The Founding Grant
In 1876, Leland Stanford purchased 650 acres of what had been El Rancho San Francisquito for a country home and began the development of his famous Palo Alto Stock Farm for trotting horses. In 1885, a year and a half after the death of their only child, Jane and Leland Stanford executed a deed of trust conveying the farm, along with several other parcels of land, to the trustees for the founding of the Leland Stanford Junior University. The size and varied topography of the 8,180 acres of foothills and plains they left to Stanford in the center of the San Francisco Peninsula provide a rare opportunity for comprehensive land use and resource management. About 60 percent of Stanford’s land today remains open.
The Campus Plan
Jane and Leland Stanford traveled widely before founding Stanford and wanted the Main Quadrangle and the Palm Drive main entrance to reflect European Beaux Arts formalism. They engaged Frederick Law Olmsted, the foremost landscape architect of the time. The Stanfords’ contentious collaboration with Olmsted and the architectural firm of Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge resulted in California Mission-inspired buildings of local sandstone with red-tiled roofs, surrounding a cloistered quadrangle with Memorial Church as its focus. The rectangular plan of the Main Quadrangle was designed to provide for expansion through a series of quadrangles developed laterally. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the Great Depression and World War II intervened. The university’s campus planning today, however, has returned to the original concept of quadrangles and connecting malls in its design.
With more than 49 miles of roads, a 49-megawatt power plant, three separate water systems, three dams and lakes, 88 miles of water mains, a central heating and cooling plant, a high-voltage distribution system and a post office, the university is a self-sustaining community. Stanford also provides or contracts for its own fire, police and other services. There are more than 690 major buildings at Stanford that incorporate 14.8 million square feet. Ninety-six percent of undergraduates live on campus, as do about 57 percent of graduate students and 30 percent of faculty members. There are 850 owner-occupied housing units for faculty on campus, as well as 628 rental units for faculty and staff. Stanford is one of the most energy-efficient institutions among California research universities.
There are more than 43,000 trees on the Stanford campus, with the native California Coast Live Oak the most common. Many of Stanford’s trees have survived a century or more of drought, flood and change. There are more than 800 different species of plants on campus. The inner campus includes about 1.1 million square feet of shrubs, 143,000 linear feet of groundcovers, 1.3 million square feet of green areas and 2,700 automatic irrigation valves. There are 25 fountains.
Stanford Research Park
Stanford Research Park was created in 1951 in response to the demand for industrial land near university resources and an emerging electronics industry tied closely to the School of Engineering. Today, the park is home to more than 150 companies with about 23,000 employees in electronics, software, biotechnology and other high-tech fields. Research and development and supporting service companies occupy some 10 million square feet in more than 160 buildings spread over 700 acres.
Stanford Shopping Center
In 1955, Stanford Shopping Center opened at the northern end of the campus in keeping with the Stanfords’ goal of using their land to provide support for the university. The 70-acre development, anchored by five major department stores and 140 retail stores, is one of the nation’s leading super-regional centers in revenue and sales per square foot. In 2003, the center was groundleased to, and is now managed by, Simon Property Group, Inc. The property provides rental revenue that supports the university’s endowment.
Stanford and Its Neighbors
Stanford's contiguous 8,180 total acres are in six different governmental jurisdictions:
|5,178 acres in Santa Clara County|
|4,017 acres in unincorporated Santa Clara County|
|1,161 acres in Palo Alto|
|3,002 acres in San Mateo County|
|2,701 acres in unincorporated San Mateo County|
|114 acres in Woodside|
|111 acres in Menlo Park|
|76 acres in Portola Valley|
Stanford and its surrounding communities are interconnected. The university considers its relationship with those communities to be vital in jointly addressing such crucial issues as growth, transportation and economic development. Stanford has been a major contributor to the economic vitality of the region.
The academic campus is governed by a Community Plan and General Use Permit, issued by Santa Clara County in 2000, that allows Stanford to add two million additional square feet of academic facilities and up to 3,000 new housing units on campus while preserving more than 2,000 acres of the campus foothills in Santa Clara County for 25 years.
Stanford earned a gold rating for sustainability from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education in 2012. The Sustainable Stanford program continues to improve sustainable practices:
- The Stanford Energy System Innovation program will reduce Stanford's greenhouse emisions by 50 percent and decrease potable water use by 18 percent by 2015, exceeding California's AB 32 Global Warming Solutions Act.
- Since 2002, energy retrofits of older buildings have resulted in an estimated savings of more than 176 million kilowatt-hours of electricity—about eight months of the university’s current use.
- A 21 percent reduction in domestic water use has been achieved since 2000, despite the addition of more than 1 million gross square feet.
- The recycling program diverts 62 percent of waste from landfills.
- About 44 percent of Stanford food is sustainably sourced from 200 local farms and 21 local manufacturers or is 3rd-party certified.
- Designated a Platinum-Level “Bicycle Friendly University” in 2011, Stanford boasts 13,000 bikes on campus daily and 12 miles of bike lanes. Twenty-four percent of commuters bike to work.
- Employee drive-alone rate has been reduced from 72 percent in 2002 to 47 percent in 2012—compared to the national rate of 76 percent—and transit ridership is up from 8 to 28 percent.
- There are eight electric vehicle charging stations on campus.
The transportation program includes the free 56-bus, 19-route Marguerite system running on biodiesel with five diesel-electric hybrid buses; the 8,300-member Commute Club; free transit on Caltrain, VTA, Dumbarton Express and AC Transit’s Line U; half off ACE train; Zipcar car sharing; commute planning; charter services; and a bike program.
Ridership on Marguerite buses climbed to 1,702,562 in 2011, up 17.5 percent since 2010. In 2012, 53 percent of employees commuted via alternative transportation, compared with 23 percent in Santa Clara County.