Built in 1940, the Palo Alto station is the only building in the city designed Moderne style, which usually features glass blocks, portholes, horizontal stripping, and curved corners. The station has all of these elements, making it truly unique. For these reasons it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. The station contains a mural, painted by John McQuarrie, depicting important events in California (as seen in the street view). The station remains an important transportation hub today, serving customers taking buses to neighboring areas, shuttles to Stanford University, and the Caltrain.


  • The Palo Alto Station was built in 1940 in the Moderne style.
    The Palo Alto Station was built in 1940 in the Moderne style.

The current Palo Alto Station was built in 1940 and replaced the original structure, which was built in 1897. The station was built in the sleek Streamine Moderne style, a rarity for Palo Alto. There was a trend at the time to build transportation buildings in a style that mimicked elements of transportation. In the case of the Palo Alto Station, it was built to resemble a Streamline train. The hallmarks of the Streamline Moderne style are rounded corners, horizontal lines, portholes, and glass blocks, and the Palo Alto Station possesses all of those elements. 

There is a sad irony in the fact that ultra modern building was constructed just as rail transportation began to decline. 

The waiting room features a 26-foot long mural by John McQuarrie which depicts Leland Stanford surveying the West and developments in California's history. The building was refurbished in the 1980s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural significance.


James McFall & Virginia Warheit. "Palo Alto Station." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/8db1dbd8-c279-4a60-954c-097f8aa8e760.

"Palo Alto Station." National Park Service. Accessed May 9, 2017. https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/santaclara/pal.htm.
The University Avenue Train Depot: A Streamline to the Past. paloaltohistory.org. Accessed July 22, 2017. http://www.paloaltohistory.org/the-university-avenue-train-depot.php.