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Tiny Cars of Palo Alto

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Many years ago, Arthur E asked me if I had been to Tiny Cars of Palo Alto.

I had never heard of it, despite growing up in Palo Alto, so he took me.

On University Avenue, in downtown Palo Alto, there's a particular window. (Link is to Google Street View image of the window.) Because of the window's curvature, if you look in the window, you can see compressed cars driving past in the street. They're squeezed front-to-back but not top-to-bottom.

It's much more entertaining than it sounds.

Ordinary cars become squished little cars. Vans and trucks are often particularly comical. Even bicycles get compressed.

Ever since Arthur first introduced me to it, I've been taking visitors there. It's more fun in person than to hear it described, and I like the mystery of telling someone the name but nothing else about it before showing it to them.

Unfortunately, not everybody comes to visit me. (Or perhaps fortunately; I don't have that many guest rooms.) So there are many people to whom I haven't been able to show this local landmark.

So I finally decided to make a video.

It's not a high-quality video. I took it on my iPhone, and I haven't removed the street-noise audio track. Still, it gives something of a sense of what the view is like.

So I uploaded it to YouTube. (My very first YouTube video!)

So now even those of you in far-off lands and distant climes can behold at least some semblance of the wonder that is Tiny Cars of Palo Alto. (1 min)

(Bicycles, alas, not included.)

(P.S.: Some of the compressed cars end up just looking like European cars to me. So if y'all Europeans look at it and think “Those just look like normal cars,” then remind yourself that they're really full-size American cars, transformed through the miracle of optics. Still, some of the humor may be lost in translation.)

1 Comment

Ha -- that's hilarious, Jed. I'd never seen that before. And you're right -- I didn't expect it to be so funny, based just on your description, but it's really amusing.

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