The last stage in the development of San Mateo County, from the standpoint of the ownership and apportionment of the soil is now at hand, and consists of the division of large portions of the magnificent country estates throughout the county, into generous sized suburban lots and villa tracts. Although this period is the last stage of the subdivision of the land into its smallest segments,-it marks the beginning of an era of the greatest advancement and prosperity that this section of the peninsula has ever experienced.
San Mateo County is a “community grown up over night.” Twenty-five years ago it consisted of only a few scattered villages and two good sized towns with a total population of ten thousand ; today the population is almost four times this amount and growing more rapidly than ever before.
Previous to the year 1888, the county was altogether undeveloped in respect to the subdivision of its lands into suburban lots and acreage home sites. Along the Southern Pacific Railroad were dotted the older villages of Millbrae, San Mateo, Redwood City and Menlo Park. In the. adjacent country lay the beautiful estates of the Eastons and Mills of Millbrae; the Howards, Haywards and Parrotts of San Mateo ; the Hawes and Brittons of Redwood ; and the Athertons and Selbys of Fair Oaks.
It was in the year of 1888 that William H. Howard who owned several acres lying between the village of San Mateo and what is now Burlingame Avenue, began an active campaign of subdivision, and employed Davenport Bromfield the civil engineer to lay out what is known as the Western Addition to the City of San Mateo. Mr. Bromfield subsequently laid out practically all of the most important tracts and subdivisions throughout the peninsula, from the southern boundary line of San Francisco to the Menlo Park vicinity.
The platting of the Western Addition to San Mateo was followed by the first subdivision of the Town of Burlingame (being that portion of the town now lying south of Burlingame Avenue). Later came a subdivision of a portion of Mr. Howard’s home place, now known as Highland Park in the City of San Mateo. This work was the beginning of the expansion of San Mateo northerly, and the foundation of the present City of Burlingame.
The coming of the United Railroads from San Francisco to the City of San Mateo in 1902 and the perfection of their service into a daily half-hourly headway, between these two points in November of the next year, contributed largely to the further subdivision of private holdings.
The William Corbitt property at Burlingame was laid out into one-quarter acre lots, followed by the subdivisions known as Burlingame Heights, Lomita Park and Hayward Park. A few years later the tracts known as Easton and San Bruno were subdivided. All of these were contiguous to the railroad lines and on the eastern side of the State Highway. Crystal Springs Park and Highland Park were also important subdivisions.
As the beauty of peninsula property became more widely known to the San Francisco homeseeker, and its reputation as a most exclusive section for country ‘homes became more firmly established ; new tracts were thrown open, especially those more elevated lands lying westerly from the State Highway which were subdivided into larger residence and acreage lots to meet this higher priced market.
The Sharon Estate in 1889 began the subdivision of its 800-acre tract known as Burlingame Park, where today can be seen the handsome homes of the Crockers, Scotts, Colemans, Tobins, Carolans and others. This was followed by the Clark holdings, now known as San Mateo Park-the Bowie Estate, known as El Cerrito Park-the Ansel Easton Estate, San Carlos Park, Dingee Park, now known as Redwood Highlands-Valparaiso Park which is a portion of the Atherton Estate at Fair Oaks-and Stanford Park. These acreage subdivisions extending from Easton on the north to Stanford Park on the south, included every variety and character of land that the most fastidious homeseeker could desire.
Great care has been exercised by the landscape engineer in utilizing the natural contour and topography of the ground so as to place the building sites in elevated positions and allow the roads to meander along natural depressions. San Mateo and Easton are good examples of this art of the engineer.
From a bulletin issued by the United States Census Department over a year ago, dealing with the ownership of San Mateo County homes built upon the subdivisions of these large estates, the following comparative figures have been derived: about 80%4, of the total number of homes in the county today are occupied by urban home dwellers. Of this number more than half own their homes.