Dr. M and I spent the last two days jackassing around the Peninsula looking for a place to live, focusing first on Mountain View, Palo Alto and Menlo Park, and then looking around Redwood City yesterday. We ended up finding a couple of places in Redwood City that suit our particulars, so last night I was doing some online research about Redwood City neighborhoods.
I found a number of comments on various Internet forums stating that one should steer clear of "east" Redwood City, or at least that "west" Redwood City is the nicer area. I found less consistent comments making a similar distinction between north (good) and south (bad). The task then became determining what these geographic dividing lines might be. After some more digging, people seemed to fixate on El Camino Real (one of my least favorite streets in the universe) and Woodside Road. Figuring out the actual significance of these streets was further complicated by the fact that Redwood City is sideways (from Wikipedia):
El Camino Real (California), a northwest/southeast arterial street and Woodside Road, a north-northeast/south-southwest arterial, run through Redwood City. Locally, the former is regarded as north/south and the latter east/west, as El Camino connects Redwood City to San Francisco and San Jose and Woodside Road runs from San Francisco Bay to the Santa Cruz Mountains. The actual geography is as stated.
As you can seem from the map, ECR is at an almost diagonal orientation, but Woodside Road, the putative north-south divider, actually runs more or less north-south itself. As far as I can tell, this means that the "southeast" portion of the city is actually the northeast quadrant of the ECR-Woodside Road intersection in real life. Given my already abysmal sense of direction, living in this city is going to be a real treat.
Bonus Redwood City fun fact: "Redwood Shores" is actually part of Redwood City, but it is impossible to get there on land from Redwood City proper without passing through San Carlos. Redwood Shores is the Alaska to Redwood City's lower 48.