In 1864, William Chapman Ralston, one of the Silver kings and a founder of the Bank of California,
purchased a large ranch in Belmont and from the first ranch house he built, he went on to build a huge mansion, still standing today. This mansion is now part of Notre Dame du Muir University, and has been completely restored.
The town grew slowly until after WWII. Chrysanthemums were grown in the hills at that time. By 1950, the town had about 5000 residents. By 1960 the population had grown to over 16,000 and kept growing until available land for building was used up.
Belmont, whose name means Beautiful Mountain, today has a population around 25,000 people. With schools ranking high, and residents willing to pass bond measures to sustain good schools, it’s a family friendly place to live.
Home prices until recently were a little less than surrounding communities, but that changed last year. Prices have jumped and are staying high. Many homes command beautiful views of the San Francisco bay, north up to San Francisco or south down to San Jose.
Belmont rises from the flats near US 101 to the steep hills just below 280, where you see sage and chaparral growing and deer wandering around. Homes with views command much higher prices than those without.
The downtown is small with some shops and there is a shopping center up Ralston Road at the Alameda de las Pulgas called Carlmont Center. There are sixteen parks and playgrounds, including one surrounding a lake in the city. During the summer, free concerts are held on Sunday afternoons at Twin Pines Park.
Belmont is an easy commute to either San Francisco or Silicon Valley. The weather is moderate. There is a canyon in the city originally known as “La Canada del Diable” or Devil’s Canyon. Spanish missionaries decided the name was inappropriate, so they rechristened it, “Canada de San Augustine” in the 1780’s.