History of Stanford's Land Use

In the hundred years of its history, Stanford University lands have supported an impressive record of academic and sport excellence, as well as enduring two major earthquakes, the 1906 San Francisco and 1989 Loma Prieta earthquakes. The Founding Grant on November 11, 1885 established that approximately 8,100 acres of land will be dedicated to support education under the newly founded University, “Leland Stanford Junior”. These lands, which are under the land government of six jurisdictions, (Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, City of Palo Alto, City of Menlo Park, Town of Portola Valley and Town of Woodside), are located in an extremely dynamic region, a region that has been a key economic engine for the world for the last 50 years. While not exhaustive, here are some historic facts of the largest land use areas of Stanford lands.

  • The main campus was established in 1886 and only twenty years after, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake damaged buildings and structures extensively. The campus was mostly reconstructed under first president David Starr Jordan with a budget of approximately $700,000. Not all the buildings and structures were reconstructed at the time, for example, the original gym was leveled and after 100 years, it is now being studied by the Campus Archeologist as the site for the new Art Center for the campus. Today, the main campus covers approximately 1,700 acres and includes the Stanford Hospitals and Clinics, and residential areas for students and faculty.
  • In the 1950s, the university's science and engineering graduates had difficulty finding jobs on the West Coast. With the intention of generating some revenue and to provide starting work for students, the Stanford Trustees established the “Stanford Industrial (now Research) Park" in 1951 on approximately 700 acres of land east of the main campus. Early tenants included Hewlett-Packard, (a company formed originally to produce an electronic device based on a master's thesis at Stanford) and General Electric. Stanford was able to make the research facilities available to these companies while they hired Stanford’s students for specific projects. Now it houses more than 150 companies, such as Varian Medical Center, Symphony Technology Group, Information Express, and Facebook.
  • The Research Park was five years old when a new land use was dedicated at the University. The Stanford Shopping Center opened in 1956 on 70 acres of land, adding to the University's revenues.
  • During a meeting at Professor Panofsky’s house in 1956, Professor R. Hofstadter proposed a new linear accelerator ten to twenty times more powerful than the university’s first full scale accelerator, “Mark III”. Five years later, in 1961, Stanford Trustees approved the construction of SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center), on approximately 426 acres of land southwest of the main campus. It was founded in 1962 as a national laboratory for scientific research with participation of scientifics from all over the world. It is operated by Stanford University and by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
  • In 1973, Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve was established by Stanford Trustees in approximately 1,200 acres South-West of the main campus to provide a natural laboratory for researchers from all over the world, educational experiences to students and docent-led visitors, and refuge to native plants and animals.
  • The above current land uses: Main Campus, Research Park, SLAC and Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve occupy about half of Stanford lands (approx. 4,000 acres). The rest of the land is mostly non-developed academic reserve lands that are temporary leased for agricultural uses.