Arguably the quaintest and most spirited neighborhood in Corte Madera, Christmas Tree Hill is also one of the oldest. Originally it was part of 136 acres gifted to Emma Catharine Pixley by her sister-in-law in the 1890s; Pixley split the land into small plots and sold them for as little as $50 each. San Francisco residents looking to build summer retreats purchased these lots on “Tank Hill” or “Little Tam,” as it was then called; many of the houses eventually became year-round homes. It wasn’t until the late 1920s, when the first street lamps were installed along the hill’s zigzagging roads, that people noticed the triangular pattern of lights resembled a large Christmas tree. Local residents played along with that imaginative image by adding colored lightbulbs; at one time the hill was dubbed “the world’s largest Christmas tree” in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Though that festive practice ended years ago, today’s Christmas Tree Hill dwellers have modernized the tradition by placing a 200-pound steel star near the summit of the hill during the holidays. The star’s last appearance was several years ago, but many are hoping it will shine again in the future.