We had chosen an RV park in San Juan Bautista, CA, primarily because of its proximity to Monterey, so the first chance we got, we headed to Monterey, about 25 miles to the southwest.
About three miles from downtown, we came over a slight rise in Highway 1 and were greeted with a beautiful view of Monterey Bay.
From San Carlos Beach at the eastern end of Cannery Row, we had this view of the Bay (east, above; northwest, below), which is part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS).
The Sanctuary was established in September 1992. Marine sanctuaries strive to preserve ocean environments that are still relatively pristine while promoting multiple use of the area for enjoyment by everyone.
The Sanctuary protects plants, animals, rocks and shells and encompasses 5,322 square miles. Monterey Bay comprises about seven per cent of the MBNMS, the largest marine sanctuary in the United States.
Some facts about the Santuary that I thought were significant were: Approxi-mately 21 endangered and threatened animals spend all or part of their lives in the Sanctuary, the sea otter population within the Sanctuary is estimated to be more than 1,200, and a submarine canyon in Monterey Bay is larger than the Grand Canyon.
This sculpture of dolphins seemed to fit the setting perfectly.
The history of Monterey's Cannery Row is marked by waves--waves of immigrants, waves of fishes, and waves of activity.
In the late 1700's, the Spanish began to settle the area, bringing their religion and replacing the Native American customs.
In 1814, the Chinese began to arrive in large numbers, due mainly to the subject of the second wave--salmon. Around the 1850s, Portuguese whalers arrived, drawn by the large population of humpback and gray whales. Japanese immigrants began arriving in the early 1890s and were responsible, with the aid of insulated suits and helmets, for the advancement of abalone fishing in the Monterey Bay. And in the early 1900s Italian fishermen introduced the lampara net that helped revolutionize the fishing and canning industry and helped Monterey earn the designation "Sardine Capital of the World."
The first major cannery on Ocean View Avenue was the Pacific Fish Company, born on February 14, 1908. During the boom years of the canning industry, ships would unload their catch on long piers that stretched into the bay, move the fish into the canneries along the shore, and then send the cans by conveyer belt from the bayside of the street to the inland side for shipment. The crossovers above the street are vestiges of the conveyor belts.
The canneries themselves went through "waves," also--the huge spike in demand for canned sardines brought about by World War I, a decline during the Great Depression, another boom for the industry during World War II, and the collapse of the industry after World War II when the over-fished sardines disappeared from Monterey Bay.
When I saw this gathering of cormorants near this old building, I could almost sense the "conver-sation" occurring among them: "Why, back in the day, our ancestors would talk about 'the silver rivers of fish that would pour in out of the boats.' Those were the days."
Well, that was just how John Steinbeck described the heyday of the fishing industry in his 1945 novel Cannery Row. Steinbeck lived in Pacific Grove, next to Cannery Row, and it is along this street that banners having quotes from Steinbeck are hanging (left).
It seemed as though the 1960s struck a fatal blow to the area when many cannery buildings burned to the ground, but two Monterey restaurant managers and entrepreneurs opened The Sardine Factory Restaurant on October 2, 1968. The Sardine Factory is today one of the most successful, widely recognized, and highest grossing dining establishments in the country.
Other restaurants and hotels, such as the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa (right), have transformed Cannery Row from a street of abandoned canneries into a welcoming waterfront to which visitors would return again and again.
This table setting at the Hotel's outdoor restaurant is an example of the fine dining options available.
This simple mural of two fishermen on these concrete slabs seemed to be a modest but striking tribute to those who filled the history of Cannery Row.