"Los Altos is a city in Santa Clara County, California, in northern Silicon Valley, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Los Altos means "the heights" in Spanish. The population was 28,976 according to the 2010 census.
Los Altos is crossed by three creeks that flow north to San Francisco Bay, Adobe Creek on its western boundary, Stevens Creek on its eastern boundary and Permanente Creek in the middle. Hale Creek is tributary to Permanente Creek, and Permanente Creek is now largely diverted to Stevens Creek by a diversion channel. All three creeks originate on the flanks of Black Mountain.
The area was originally called Banks and Braes. Paul Shoup, an executive of the Southern Pacific Railroad, and his colleagues formed the Altos Land Company in 1906 and started the development of Los Altos. The company acquired 140 acres of land from Sarah Winchester. Shoup wanted to link Palo Alto and Los Gatos by making Los Altos a commuter town. It continued a train-a-day operation to and from San Francisco.
In 1908, Southern Pacific Railroad began running steam train service through Los Altos (April 19, 1908) with five trains per day. Two freight cars served as train depot. Also, the first commercial building, Eschenbruecher's Hardware, was built in downtown. In 1913, the craftsman-style Los Altos train station was built at 288 First Street.
By 1949, many residents were dissatisfied with the zoning policy of Santa Clara county. Also, there was a constant threat of being annexed by neighboring Palo Alto and Mountain View, so they decided to incorporate. Los Altos became the eleventh city in Santa Clara county on December 1, 1952.
Train service stopped its operation in January 1964, and the train track became Foothill Expressway. Los Altos may have a legitimate claim to having the first scientifically designed sound baffle in the year 1970. Santa Clara County undertook a seminal study to calculate the effects of alternate soundwall designs along Foothill Expressway. The resulting wall brought about the predicted reduction of seven to ten decibels in noise pollution levels experienced by adjacent homes.
In 2017, Forbes ranked Los Altos (94022 and 94024) as the 3rd and 48th most expensive ZIP codes in the United States with median home prices of $7,755,000 and $3,431,615, respectively. In 2018, data from the American Community Survey revealed that Los Altos was the fifth wealthiest city in the United States.
Primary and middle school students attend schools in the Los Altos School District, the Cupertino Union School District, or Bullis Charter School (K–8). The Los Altos School District has one of the highest average API scores in California and includes seven elementary schools in the Los Altos–Mountain View area.
Local residents generally attend high school in one of two public school districts: Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, or Fremont Union High School District.
All of the public schools are highly regarded, and many graduates of Los Altos area high schools continue their education at well-known universities.
Los Altos is also served by highly regarded private and religious schools. St. Nicholas School, St. Simon School, Miramonte Elementary School, (JrK–8th) Canterbury Christian School (K–6th), the Lower and Middle Campuses (K–6th) of Pinewood School, The School for Independent Learners, and the lower school campus of the Waldorf School of the Peninsula  are located within city limits. Others nearby include St. Francis High School (Mountain View), Mountain View Academy, and The King's Academy (Sunnyvale). Other schools farther away with students from Los Altos include Mitty High School, Menlo School, Woodside Priory School, Castilleja School, The Harker School, and Bellarmine College Preparatory.