When Walter Blair bought the land, in 1852, that would later become the city of Piedmont, he paid $1.25 an acre. Now, more than 150 years later, the average home in this tight-knit residential community sells for almost $800,000.
Piedmont, at less than two square miles, has the friendly charm of a small town, with the convenient amenities of being within a few minutes drive of Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco.
The city's schools, in particular, draw young families to the green, tree-lined streets and roomy, 100-year old houses. Piedmont's three elementary schools, middle school and high school were all ranked in the top ten percent of the state last year. Piedmont High School sends about 98% of its students on to college.
Higher education is important not only to Piedmont youngsters, but to their parents as well. Forty percent of adults living in town hold graduate or professional degrees, and parents are deeply involved in academic life, from helping to plan extracurricular events to raising money for Piedmont's substantial endowment fund.
Piedmont Unified School District Superintendent Constance Hubbard says that the ``community obviously values education, and sees it as contributing to the citizenry of the future.''
Lisa Braver Moss, the president of CHIME, the parents' organization that supports performing arts programs in the Piedmont schools, notes that there's ``a sense of community here that's really unusual. We have all the liabilities of a small town, and all the assets.''
Most recently, Piedmont voters passed a bond measure to enable the district to make improvements to district school buildings, to reduce danger from earthquakes and meet federal and state safety standards.
As San Francisco marks the centennial of the 1906 earthquake, Piedmont prepares to celebrate a centennial of another kind. In January, 2007, the town will begin a year of festivities in honor of its official founding. Walking tours, art exhibits and celebrations like a special July 4th parade bring together what Hubbard calls, ``a good, solid community.''
- Piedmont means ``foot of the mountain'' in Italian. The city sits at the base of the Oakland hills.
- The Harvest Festival, on September 24, will feature demonstrations and contests of produce grown in Piedmont backyards.
- Some of the city's most famous residents have been Jack London, Robert McNamara and Clint Eastwood.