Monterey, California - Historic Cannery Row and John Steinbeck Walking Tour

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If you are interested in this walking tour as an audio tour, our companion audio tour is now available on VoiceMap under Monterey Peninsula.   To use VoiceMap, you will need to download the app from the Apple Store or Google Play.  The app is free, there is a cost for the tour. 

This Monterey, California Historic Cannery Row and John Steinbeck Walking Tour is a collaboration by Carmel Residents Association members Lynn Momboisse and Dale Byrne


"Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream."  

So goes the opening line from John Steinbeck's seminal novel, Cannery Row, about a bygone era and the characters that filled it.  

On this walk we'll trace the seam of Steinbeck's Cannery Row. Along the way we'll discover the real-life people he drew from in order to create his vivid characters.  

We'll hear about the marine biologist Ed Ricketts, the man who was perhaps the greatest influence on Steinbeck's life, and the basis for one of the main characters in the book.  We'll also pass by some of the real locations Steinbeck used as backdrops for his stories.

We'll explore how Cannery Row went quickly from a quaint fishing village to the center of a booming sardine industry filled with many canneries, and how that ultimately ended in economic collapse, fire and rusted ruins, only to be reborn into the commercial tourist hub it is today. 

On this walking tour we will explore Cannery Row and the surrounding area which includes the Steinbeck Plaza, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey Plaza Hotel, Monterey InterContinental Hotel and San Carlos Beach. 

Sardine Factory  (Photo Dale Byrne)

The Tour is about 2 miles.  It begins at the Sardine Factory at 701 Wave Street and Prescott Avenue and ends at the Steinbeck Plaza located at the intersection of Cannery Row and Prescott Avenue.

If walked at a leisurely pace the tour should take about two hours.  However, if you decide to do any shopping, wine tasting, or dining the tour will take longer.  We encourage you to take the time if you have it to explore the area and make new adventures.  

There are two options for parking along Cannery Row.  Parking along the street is metered.  Each meter lists the hours of enforcement. They accept dollar coins, quarters, dimes and nickels and currently the cost is about $1.50 per hour.  

If you prefer a parking garage, we suggest the Cannery Row Parking Garage at 601 Foam Street between Hoffman and Prescott Streets. 

Foam is a one way street so enter Foam from Hoffman to get to the entrance of the parking garage.  As of the time of this writing, the charge is a flat rate at entry of $10 per day.  Payment is accepted in cash, Visa or MasterCard.  There are no in and out privileges.  

Now it is time to head off on our walking tour. You should be standing on the corner of Prescott Avenue and Wave Street looking at a Monterey clipper boat named Sardine Factory which is located just outside the restaurant of the same name.

The Sardine Factory - founded by Bert Cutino, left, and Ted Balestreri, right, pictured in the restaurant’s conservatory - celebrated its 50th birthday October 2018 (Monterey County Weekly, photo by Nic Coury)

This is also the place where the rebirth of Cannery Row began, when restaurant managers Ted Balestreri and Bert Cutino saw potential in this run-down industrial area on the other-side-of-the-tracks and opened their Sardine Factory restaurant in 1968.

Clint Eastwood and Jessica Walter at the Sardine Factory Bar in a scene from the 1971 movie
Play Misty for Me (From Reel to Real Movie and TV Filming Locations

Others saw the potential too. In 1971, Clint Eastwood chose the bar at The Sardine Factory for several scenes for his movie “Play Misty for Me,” and for over 50 years now, celebrities from all over the world have frequented its dining room and enjoyed wine from its 20,000 bottle cellar.

In 1976, Ted and Bert would partner with Harry Davidian and George Zarounian to form the Foursome Development Company. This would become the precursor of the Cannery Row Company which we will learn more about on this tour.

Now turn around and with the Sardine Factory behind you begin walking straight down Prescott toward Monterey Bay and the Steinbeck Plaza.  

Omesia Teyoc, a Rumsen women born and baptized at Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo (Wikipedia) 

History in the area around Cannery Row dates back to the indigenous people known as the Rumsen one of eight groups of the Ohlone, who made their home here for thousands of years before the arrival of the Europeans, when Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo spotted this area in 1542.  We cover this, as well as Monterey's early fishing industry, on our Monterey California State Historic Park and Fisherman's Wharf Walking Tour.  

By the 20th century, Cannery Row which originally went by the name of Ocean View Boulevard, was the industrial heart of Monterey. It is also the location of a common story which repeats itself over and over again throughout history, that of boom to bust.

Informational Plaque Historic Cannery Row Silver Harvest (Photograph California Views) 
In the early 1900’s this area and Monterey Bay’s seemingly inexhaustible resource of Pacific sardine, attracted fishermen, investors and inventors from around the world seeking their fortune.

But just as the gold rich Sierra foothills were quickly depleted of easy to mine gold by the flood of miners looking for their fortune in the 1850’s, overfishing decimated the sardine fishing and canning industry in the 1950’s. 

Today Cannery Row has risen from the ashes of its burned out canneries and undergone a renaissance. Almost fully restored, the waterfront area has been officially renamed for Steinbeck’s novel, Cannery Row which captured life on the Row during its commercial heyday. It is now one of America’s top visitor destinations and attracts approximately four million people each year.

At the corner of Prescott Avenue and Cannery Row, cross Cannery Row and continue walking into Steinbeck Plaza and over to the Cannery Row Monument. 

This sculpture is the work of local Carmel artist Steven Whyte.  We visit Steven Whyte's Carmel art studio on our  walking tour Downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea in One Hour.This pays tribute to the many people who played a vital role in the development of Cannery Row.

Take a look at the top of Whyte’s work. That is author John Steinbeck who anchor’s the top of the rock.

Directly below Steinbeck is marine biologist Ed Ricketts. Ed was a lifelong friend of Steinbeck and he is memorialized as the character Doc Ricketts in the novel Cannery Row.

To the right of Steinbeck is Madam Flora Woods who is portrayed as Dora Flood in Steinbeck’s novel. Next to Dora is one of her girls.

On the other side of the monument there are four men sitting together.Two of these figures are modeled after the owners of the Sardine Factory where we began this tour. 

Together, the four men are Ted Balestreri and Bert Cutino as well as Zee & Dee Packing partners Harry Davidian and George Zarounian. All four partnered together in 1976 to form the Foursome Development Company which as I mentioned before would became the Cannery Row Company.

On the back of the monument is a Chinese fisherman. He represents the people who lived in the Chinese fishing village established in the mid 1800’s on the beach surrounding this area. 

If you look closely you will also see frogs on the rock monument. We will talk about how these frogs came into play later on the tour.

From the monument take a walk over to the metal railing and the overlook of McAbee Beach and Monterey Bay.  We will learn more about McAbee Beach toward the end of our tour.  To your right off in the distance is Highway 1 from Marina to Monterey.  

Turn back around and head over to the Carmel Ridge Winery Tasting Room. Paul Stokes planted his first vineyard high in the hills of Carmel Valley in 1996 and he is still in charge of all the vineyard management today.  Stop in if time permits and try one of their varietals, chardonnay, pinot noir, merlot or cabernet. They open daily at noon.

Steinbeck Plaza will also be the ending point for our walking tour. When you finish your tour, you might consider checking out some of the businesses that surround this plaza. Cannery Row Kids, Pebble Beach Company, The Fish Hopper and Louie Linguini’s are some of our favorites. 

As you continue walking toward the exit of the plaza stop and take a look at the bust of John Steinbeck by sculptress C. W. Brown. 

John was born in 1902 in Salinas, California. With much of his 33 literary works set in central California, he is a beloved local author. The plaque on the bust is a portion of the opening paragraph from his 1945 novel Cannery Row. We will read the plaque on the bust when we return to this spot at the end of our tour. 

So, with John Steinbeck’s bust behind you, turn right and walk straight along Cannery Row past Sly McFly's Refueling Station.

Take a look across the street to your left. Do you see the red painted corrugated steel structure with the words Monterey Canning Company painted on the front?  This is the original Monterey Canning Company warehouse. You will hear more about this cannery in a moment but for now, this is where we  begin the story of Cannery Row. 

The rapid expansion of Monterey’s fishing industry at the turn of the 20th century gave birth to the fish canning industry. During the first decade of the 1900’s, fishing and canning technology would improve. This street, which originally went by the name of Ocean View Avenue, would have a name change and become Cannery Row.

The Pacific Fish Company c. 1909. Nothing is left of this cannery which became the California Packing Corporation. It was located near the parking lot of El Torito next to the ruins of the San Xavier Cannery.  (Monterey Public Library, California History Room)

The first cannery in Monterey, F. E. Booth’s Crescent Brand Sardine Cannery, was built next to Fisherman’s Wharf primarily for canning salmon. The first major cannery to spring up away from the wharf was Pacific Fish Company in 1908.

World War I brought a huge demand for canned sardines and, from 1915 to 1918, Monterey’s canned sardines production went from 75,000 cases of sardines to 1.4 million cases. Corrugated canneries were popping up all over the rocky coast of Monterey Bay and Cannery Row was in full swing.  

The Monterey Canning Company Reduction Plant c. 1918 (Monterey Public Library, California History Room)

Now, back to the story of the Monterey Canning Company, which was founded by Alexander MacMillan Allen during the height of World War I. Alexander arrived in Carmel in 1897 to restart the abandoned Carmel Land & Coal Company near Point Lobos. He purchased the company and the 640 acres that now make up the Point Lobos State Reserve.

 Whalers Cove Point Lobos  2020

 Whalers Cabin Point Lobos built c. 1850 

But unable to make the company profitable, the following year he started the Point Lobos Abalone Company operating it out of what is now the Whaler’s Cove Parking Lot at Point Lobos. With the success of his abalone company, Alexander started the Monterey Canning Company in 1917.

 Old Monterey Canning Company reduction plant burns February 24, 1978 ( Monterey Herald) 

On February 24, 1978 the old Monterey Canning Company reduction plant was burned to the ground.   Although it is an entirely new structure, the building was rebuilt to appear as it did prior to the fire.  

As you walk, you will pass between the Monterey Canning Company warehouse, to your left, and the Monterey Canning Company cannery and rebuilt reduction plant to your right. Both buildings are distinguished by their Mission Revival false front. 

At the end of the Monterey Canning Company building, turn right and keep walking alongside the building. Just ahead on your right is Bargetto Winery Tasting Room.

As I said Alexander’s original Monterey Canning Company cannery and reduction plant was destroyed by fire in 1978 but the building was authentically reconstructed by the Cannery Row Company and now hosts 40 businesses. 
One of the 40 businesses is Bargetto Winery Tasting Room

The original Bargetto family winery opened in 1910 in San Francisco and relocated to Soquel, just north of here, at the onset of Prohibition in 1917. The next generation introduced modern technology to the business and the winery sourced grapes from the Santa Cruz Mountains. The third generation of Bargetto’s now runs the oldest continuously operated winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Stop in and try one of their varietals, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio. They are open from 11 am daily.

Or, just go in and explore some of the other 40 shops. There is something for just about everyone from Candyland, Monterey Wine Market, Monterey Bay Harley-Davidson to the Spirit of Monterey Wax Museum.  On the second floor of this building there is a great bay overlook that opens at 11 am. 

With the Bargetto Winery Tasting Room behind you, walk straight ahead to the bench outside of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. The bench will be just past the check-in counter for Bubba Gump restaurant. 

Have a seat for a moment on Forrest Gump’s bench. I’m sure he won’t mind sharing his box of chocolates.

The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant is the highest grossing restaurant on the Row. It is also the only structure that survived of the Del Mar Canning Company, having been its reduction plant. 

The InterContinental Hotel to your right was the Del Mar Canning Company cannery and the buildings across the street were its warehouse.  

Originally this area was part of the Chinese fishing village that extended along McAbee Beach. In 1916, the Japanese run Bayside Fish & Flour Company built a small reduction plant here. 

Except during wartime, when canning was a maximum priority, the reduction process which was relatively simple, was highly profitable. In the reduction plant, fish scraps, waste and even edible fish would be ground in a centrifuge into fishmeal, poultry feed or fertilizer. The process also produced a terrible smell for which Monterey became famous. 

In 1927, Edward David took over the reduction and canning operation and opened the Del Mar Canning Company. 

Disaster struck in 1936 and the entire complex burned to the ground, a story that mysteriously occurred time and again here on Cannery Row. However it happened, David used the fire and resultant insurance money to rebuild and expand his operation. He added a second warehouse across the street which was connected to the cannery by an elevated conveyor called a cross over. You will see these all along Cannery Row.  

 Westgate-Sun Harbor Canning Company warehouse burns 1951 ( Monterey Fire Department) 

David sold his cannery in 1947 to Westgate-Sun Harbor Canning. Two fires, one in 1951 and a second in 1952, led to the total demolition of the entire cannery. Well, except for the reduction plant, which in the late 1990’s became the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant.   

The InterContinental Clement Monterey Hotel was built atop the site of the original Westgate-Sun Harbor cannery and cannery warehouses that were demolished by the fires of the 1950’s. This stylish waterfront hotel was built in a similar design as the original buildings and opened in 2008. 

Time to continue with our walk. With Bubba Gump behind you, turn right and walk toward the entrance to the exceptional C restaurant, where every seat offers a stunning view of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  The restaurant is part of the InterContinental Clement Monterey Hotel. 

Before you get to the front door of the restaurant, turn right and walk to the right of the outdoor dining area of the C restaurant on the public coastal access path.

Coastal access laws in California require that all new development maintain a public access to areas that were traditionally open to the public for right-of-way to the water. For years, Cannery Row was mostly vacant lots, thus there was an easy public access to the water. So, all new hotels, restaurants and the Monterey Bay Aquarium have public paths to the water, a wonderful feature.  

Walk over to the cut-out in the center of the wooden deck and take a look over the railing. Underneath this deck is the remains of a holding tank. What is a holding tank you might ask? Well let me explain.

Originally all early canneries operated using the same method. Fish were caught with a net, deposited in a boat and delivered to an abbreviated pier constructed at the front of the cannery on the water side. 

 Smelly sardines on racks laid out to dry (Monterey Public Library, California History Room) 

Then it gets pretty messy. The fish were cut by hand to remove the head and tail, split and spread out to dry on wooden slats. After they were dry, the butchered fish were scooped into baskets and drawn through troughs of boiling peanut oil. This was called French frying. Fish were then packed into cans and hand soldered closed. But this was about to change.

 Drying sardines at the Booth Cannery (Monterey Public Library, California History Room) 

Pietre Ferrante arrived in Monterey in 1904. After observing the fishing methods being used in Monterey, he introduced the lampara boat which greatly improved the size of the catch and increased the compensation to the fishermen for their efforts.

  Lampara fishing fleet moored in Monterey Harbor in the background is Municipal Wharf II c. 1927 (photo A. C. Heidrick, Monterey Public Library, California History Room)

Between 1925 and 1929, the boats continued to get larger. The lampara net was replaced by the half ring net, which was capable of an even larger haul. But now the boats were too small to carry both the crew and the catch, so the fishermen towed a second boat behind their craft called a lighter, a kind of  flat-bottomed barge to hold the larger catch.

The canneries along Cannery Row didn’t have large loading docks, so as catches  increased in size they would be off-loaded at sea by brailing nets that would transfer fish by metal buckets along a wire cable to the cannery weight room. A very tedious task for the fishermen, who had already worked all night bringing in the catch.  

 City of Monterey purse seiner  in 1937
 (photo by William L. Morgan, Monterey Public Library, California History Room)

In 1929, the purse seiner came on the scene. The net, when drawn closed at the bottom like a purse, captured entire schools of fish.   At 80 feet in length the hold could accommodate 100 tons of sardine, 150 tons with a deck load.

With the abundance of fish, new and improved methods were required to bring the catch to the production line in the cannery.

 Knut Hovden (Monterey Public Library, California History Room)

Enter Knut Hovden, a Norwegian immigrant who was apparently chased out of town following a mysterious and deadly fire at a fishing operation back home. After bouncing around the country a bit he ended up in Monterey at an opportune time. He was a brilliant inventor and would bring many advancements to the fishing and canning industry, including the Fish Hopper.

 Informational plaque showing  Fish Hoppers floating in Monterey Bay (photo by Don Click,  California Views)

The Fish Hopper was a system of floating wooden containers or hoppers that would be anchored to the seabed and connect directly to the canneries via underwater steel pipes which were installed and maintained by cannery divers you'll hear more about later. Pumps sucked the sardines into concrete holding tanks before they were processed in the canneries.

The picture below is a ruin of an old fish hopper. You will be able to view this later on the tour.  

A remnant of an old holding tank is located down under the wooden boardwalk you are standing on. You can view it by looking over the wall of the cut out in the boardwalk.  

Now, turn and walk back straight along the outdoor patio of the C restaurant, then turn right and enter the side door of the InterContinental Hotel. The craftsman style exterior gives way to a sleek contemporary interior. 

Enjoy the lobby, pick up a brochure if you like and take a look out the back windows onto the wooden boardwalk which overlooks Monterey Bay.

After you’ve had a good look, exit the front entrance of the hotel onto Cannery Row.    

At the entrance to the InterContinental Hotel, turn right and walk a few steps down to the Z Folio Gallery.  It will be on your right just past the grey corrugated bridge.

Z Folio Gallery has a diverse collection of Czech art glass and was voted one of the top five destinations for designer jewelry in the United States.

On the wall next to the Z Folio Gallery is a historic aerial photograph of Cannery Row. It is remarkable that The Cannery Row Company, responsible for the revitalization of Cannery Row, not only transformed this space by incorporating some of the original buildings, but also managed to keep the original footprint.

Up ahead, you'll see a ramshackle wooden structure. It looks kind of out of place as it sits wedged between two former sardine canneries. Just before you get to that building, there will be a public coastal access path. 

The metal gate is open from 8 am to sunset. If it is open, turn right and start walking into what is, quite literally, Ed Rickett’s backyard.

 Ed Ricketts (wikipedia)

Ed was immortalized as Doc in John Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row and you saw his likeness just below Steinbeck on the Steinbeck Monument.   

Ed was born in Chicago in 1897. After serving in the Army Medical Corp in 1917, he studied zoology at the University of Chicago but dropped out before earning his degree.  In 1922, he married Nan, and a year later, along with their son Ed Jr., they moved to California.

Ed and a college friend set up a business called the Pacific Biological Laboratories. This was a biological supply house that preserved sea anemones, starfish and mollusks that were pulled from the tide pools along Monterey Bay and provided as specimen microscope slides to universities, museums and research institutions.

Originally located in Pacific Grove, the lab was moved to this location on Cannery Row in 1930 when Ricketts became the sole owner. As a result of his marital problems with Nan, Pacific Biological Laboratories also became his home. 

John Steinbeck was introduced to Ed by John's wife Carol who worked at the lab and John spent quite a bit of time at the lab. He was greatly influenced by Ed and even wrote a non-fiction book about him called The Log from the Sea of Cortez. Steinbeck would also fictionalize Ed as Doc and his Pacific Biological Laboratory as the Western Biological Laboratories in his novel about the Row. 

Ed Ricketts is known for his work called Between Pacific Tides, a study of intertidal ecology considered to be the most complete intertidal record of the west coast of North America and still a seminal marine biology text today. 

Ed Ricketts Packard parked out in front of the lab (Photo by Fred Strong, Edward RIcketts Jr. collection, Monterey Public Library, California History Room) 

Look out through the chain link fence and you should see a grid of concrete containers. Chasing the low tide at night Ed would leave the lab in his old Packard, head to the coast and load his car with all kinds of animals and marine life. Back in his yard, he used those concrete containers to separate and store the larger animals like sharks, rays and octopus. 

Ed employed the residents of Cannery Row to find various specimens that he needed to fill an order, paying five cents each for frogs. This is why there were frogs on the Monument. He also bought butterflies, crayfish and strangely, cats.   

Looking at the building, the downstairs housed Ricketts lab and garage and upstairs was where he lived for 18 years. The Del Mar fire also destroyed Ed’s lab which was rebuilt from insurance money.

Since the mid 1950’s this building has served as a meeting place for a men's group. This group purchased the building in 1956 and, in 1994, it was added to the National Register of Historic places. The structure is now owned by the city of Monterey and can be visited four times a year when the nonprofit Cannery Row Foundation leads public tours. 

Turn around and walk back out to the street. Then turn right back on to Cannery Row to continue in the same direction you were going.

The cement building to your right is the beginning of the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium.

This building was originally the location of the Sea Pride Packing Corporation, a company which was entirely owned and operated by Japanese-Americans.

Sea Pride Packing Corp. c. 1940 (photo Larry Oda

Some of its top products were abalone, filleted and kippered sardines as well as tuna and mackerel. In 1926 and 1930, the facility was severely damaged by fire.

Sea Pride was rebuilt after the fire and the grey corrugated warehouse diagonally to your right across the street was added for cannery storage and access to the Southern Pacific Railroad Monterey Branch tracks, which were behind the warehouse. The original warehouse survives to this day and is used as retail space. As of the date of this writing, it is the home of Crepes on the Row. 

Sea Pride sold their operation to Atlantic Coast Fisheries in 1945 which continued to run until the 1950’s. In 1980, the abandoned  cannery, yes you guessed it, burned to the ground.

Monterey  Bay Aquarium Open Sea wing with exhibit of school of Pacific sardines (wikipedia)

In 1996, this area would become the Open Sea wing of the Monterey Bay Aquarium which features the million-gallon Open Sea community exhibit that contains a school of Pacific sardines. The Aquarium was also the location of various episodes of the HBO miniseries Big Little Lies.  

Just past the newspaper racks to your right is another public coastal access path.  The name over the top of the opening is Hovden Way. Turn right and enter this area. Walk down to the water’s edge. Along the way you will pass a public restroom on your right.   

After you pass the restroom there will be a wooden amphitheater. You can stop here and have a look out to the bay and at the back of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Monterey Bay Aquarium stands on the site of Cannery Row’s Hovden Food Products Cannery. It was built in 1916, by Knut Hovden, who we already know as the person who revolutionized the fishing industry with not only the Fish Hopper but many other innovations as well. 

Hovden Cannery from Monterey Bay (Library of Congress) 

Keeping to the local script, the original cannery burned down in 1921 and Hovden’s reduction plant was leveled by fire in 1924. But, Hovden moved on and erected what became the largest fish-packing plant in Monterey. The crash of the sardine industry after World War II effected Hovden’s cannery less than others and he was able to stay in operation having expanded into other fish products. Hovden retired in 1951 and Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station purchased the cannery in 1967.  

Monterey  Bay Aquarium on the Monterey Bay side (Wikipedia)

The space was then rented to the Portola Packing Company. You will see their name on the wall of this building later on this tour. The Portola Packing Company closed in 1973 and was the last of the canneries to close on Cannery Row.

  Hovden Cannery (Library of Congress) 

In 1978, David and Lucile Packard created the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation and purchased the Hovden property from Stanford for nearly $1 million and began converting it into an aquarium. Much of what was left of the old cannery was demolished except for the boilers and smokestack which remain in their original locations.  

  Monterey Bay Aquarium (Wikipedia) 

The Monterey Bay Aquarium opened in 1984. For over 30 years it has been an ocean conservation leader, deeply involved in cutting-edge research and an advocate to protect all living aspects of the sea. The Monterey Bay itself is part of the nation’s largest marine sanctuary, a stretch of ocean that runs from San Francisco south to San Simeon.

The aquarium educates visitors about the rich habitats of the bay, from the kelp forest down to its deep sea canyon. It also developed the Seafood Watch program which provides a sustainable seafood advisory list that assists consumers, chefs and business professionals in making informed seafood purchasing decisions. 

Turn around and walk back out to the entrance of Hovden Way and turn right to the main entrance to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The current price for adults is $49.95. If you come back for a visit, plan on spending about 4 hours, as there is so much to see and experience inside. 

Now, with the front doors of the main entrance to the aquarium behind you and the large Portola Sardines sign to your right, walk straight ahead to the cross walk.  When it is safe, cross the street here toward the five flag poles.  

When you get across the street, turn around to view the original smokestack from the Hovden Food Products Corporation cannery. 

Ok, you're going to be heading back along Cannery Row, but sticking to this side of the street.

Be mindful of the circular driveway up ahead. Cross this carefully and continue walking straight. You are passing the location of the Hovden Cannery warehouse which is currently the offices for the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  

Up ahead on your right is a mustard colored stucco building with a Spanish tile roof over the front door. This was once La Ida’s brothel and currently the home of Austino’s Patisserie. If the walls could talk, what a story they would tell but you'll have to settle for mine. 

In the mid 1930’s, La Ida’s brothel was operated by Edith Luciani out of this building. Edith managed the downstairs as a restaurant, bar and kitchen. She ran her brothel out of the five upstairs bedrooms. La Ida’s closed in 1941 when the California attorney general, Earl Warren, closed all of the known brothels in the state. 

From 1958 to 2007 this was the location of Kalisa’s restaurant. Run by Kalisa Moore, who was called the Queen of Cannery Row, her restaurant kept the memory of La Ida’s alive. Moore’s restaurant was frequented by celebrities such as Clint and Maggie Eastwood, as well as Kim Novak and Dizzy Gillespie.

John Steinbeck wrote of La Ida’s in his novel Cannery Row. He made no attempt to fictionalize it, using the real name and placing it exactly where it was located next to Wing Chong’s Market, our next destination. 

Won Yee emigrated from China to San Francisco in 1900 and moved with his family to Monterey in 1918. That same year, Yee and several partners formed the Wing Chong Co. and operated a general store out of the first floor of this location while Yee lived with his family upstairs. The store offered just about anything one needed.

There was a secret passageway that ran between Wing Chong’s and La Ida’s. It was used often during the 1920’s and 30’s as an escape route during police raids. 

  Won Yee  beside a truck loaded with dried squid c. 1930s (Monterey Public Library, California History Room) 

In 1924, Yee became aware of the growing demand for dried squid in China so he bought squid from Monterey fishermen and dried it outside of town, due to a law banning the smelly activity within city limits.

The drying area became known as Tarpy Flats and is where the Monterey Airport and the great Tarpy’s Roadhouse Restaurant is today. Quite the entrepreneur, Yee also invented a machine that cleaned the squid and, by 1932, he was shipping ten thousand tons of dried squid to Hong Kong! 

John Steinbeck fictionalized Won Yee and his store changing both Yee’s name and the name of his store. Steinbeck did however place the fictional store in its historic location right next to La Ida’s.

If it's open, go inside Kristonio’s which is near the unique stone bench out in front of the Wing Chong Building.

Inside you will find an old ice box. It is located just to the right of the cash register area. It is original to Wing Chong’s store and where Ed Rickett’s would find his favorite beer, Burgermeister stocked.     

When you're done, exit Kristonio’s and turn right on Cannery Row and continue walking straight. 

The colorful mural to your right is called “View from Doc’s Lab”. This is also Bruce Ariss Way. Turn in here, find a seat on a bench and I'll tell you a few stories.

Let’s start with Bruce Ariss who was an American painter, muralist, writer and editor. He and his wife Jean McLellan Fitch moved to the Monterey Peninsula in 1935.

Over the next few decades many artists, illustrators and writers passed through Doc Rickett’s lab on Cannery Row. Bruce had the opportunity to meet and become acquainted with many of them, including Robinson Jeffers, Francis Whitaker, Salvador Dali, Hank Ketcham, Gus Arriola and John Steinbeck.  

Bruce painted a number of murals under the federal Works Progress Administration program. This one depicts quite accurately what Doc saw from his upstairs window from across the street.

Next to the mural is a bronze bust of the Queen of Cannery Row, Kalisa Moore who turned La Ida’s brothel into a restaurant. 

To the left of the bust is Mackerel Jacks store, the location of Flora Wood’s Lone Star Café.

Born Julia Silva in Carmel Valley California in 1876, Julia changed her name to Flora and married Charles Woods in 1895 but the marriage didn’t last. In 1918, either to make ends meet or just because she wanted to, Flora opened a brothel on Decatur Street in Monterey. Evicted a short time later, she moved her girls to Cannery Row to open Flora Wood’s Lone Star Café. For better or worse, Flora’s manner of running her business would earn her establishment the title of “The Best Brothel in Monterey”. 

Flora was also fictionalized in Steinbeck’s novel and was known as Madam Dora Flood, the large woman with the flaming orange hair who ran her brothel out of the Bear Flag Restaurant. Her likeness is also on the Steinbeck Plaza Monument.

Mackerel Jacks is the location of Flora Wood’s Lone Star Café which operated across from the lab until 1941 when California attorney general Earl Warren ordered all brothels in the state closed. 

Below is a picture taken on a foggy morning.  Here you can see from right to left the locations of La Ida's, Wing Chongs Market, Sea Pride Packing warehouse, the vacant lot and Flora Wood's Lone Star Cafe. Not pictured but directly across the street from the vacant lot is Ed Ricketts Biological Laboratory. 

Now, do you see the three small wooden structures? They will be up the stairs which are located between Mackerel Jacks and the Bruce Ariss Mural.  Take a walk up the stairs to view these shacks. 

During the heyday of the canneries, this area was a vacant lot where cannery workers would hangout, smoke cigarettes and converse with their countrymen while they waited for their cannery whistle to call them to work. Each cannery had a distinct whistle and every worker knew their unique call. 

California Packing  Corporation packing line c. 1949
 (Photo by George Robinson, Monterey Public Library, California History Room) 

Wearing rubber boots and standing in cold water, the men and women who worked in the canneries along the Row made 25 cents an hour in 1936. The work was smelly and dirty, but it was work. Usually the men operated and maintained the machinery while the women worked on the packing lines, filling Cannery Row’s trademark one-pound oval cans with sardines or salmon.

Though the canneries prospered through WWII, the peak season from that era  was from 1941 to 1942. That season, canneries packed over 250,000 tons of fish. After 1945, the industry’s capacity to harvest was outdistanced by the sardine’s ability to reproduce. Workers were laid off and canneries began to close. When Ed Ricketts was asked in 1947 where all the sardines had gone, he replied, “there’re in cans.”

Today on what was originally a vacant lot across from Ed Ricketts Biological Laboratory, you will find a historic reproduction of a series of typical shack homes that would have been used by cannery workers. Next to the buildings are informational placards that describe the people that worked in the canneries.  

 Workers Shacks c. 1919 (Monterey Public Library, California History Room) 

Now turn left away from Ed Ricketts Biological Laboratory and Cannery Row and walk to the end of the pathway. Then turn left on to the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail. While you are walking on this trail keep a sharp eye out for bicyclists.  

Take a look to your left at the mural on the back of Mackerel Jacks. This mural of Mack and the Boys is by local artist John Cerney.

Remember how I told you that cannery workers would just hang out on the row waiting to hear the whistle that called them to start their shifts? Well, this mural was created from an actual photograph of a group of friends doing just that on Cannery Row.

The black and white photograph that inspired this mural was taken in 1935 by Grace Aieillo of her soon to be husband Frank Bergara and his friends. In the mural Frank is center in the lower row. His good friend Gabe Bucknell is on the left in the top row.  This mural brings us back to Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row.

Mack, who is a fictional character in the novel, is the leader and mentor to a group who according to Steinbeck, “is the exploiter of a little group of men who had in common no families, no money, and no ambitions beyond food, drink and contentment.”

Mack is actually a fictionalization of Steinbeck’s good friend in real life Gabe Bucknell. Though Gabe’s life didn’t completely emulate Mack’s, there were similarities.  Gabe had a serious drinking problem and because of his alcoholism only held jobs for short periods of time.  

The artist of this mural, and two others along the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, were created in 2008 by John Cerney. We will view the others later on this walk.

Andy Boy Pushing Cart by D'Arrigo Brothers Produce facility Salinas ( John Cerney Murals)

Cerney, whose work is legendary, is a Monterey County based artist who has been creating larger than life painted plywood figures since 1995.  I'm sure you have seen the one pictured below on highway 101 and others around Salinas. 

 Enjoy the Game is found on highway 101 north of Salinas ( John Cerney Murals)

He also designed and created the life size mile markers for the Big Sur International Marathon which takes place every April.  The one shown below was on the course a few years ago.  It features Hugo Ferlito, Carmel resident and past Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Big Sur Marathon.

As you keep walking you will come across another colorful mural.  It will be on the side of the red corrugated building to your left. This in another Cerney mural. 

The red corrugated building is the former warehouse for the Monterey Canning Company. Today the warehouse is filled with specialty shops, where you will find unique jewelry and art. These shops come and go but one that has been here for years is just inside the entrance to the left of the mural, Zucchini’s Tricks N’ Things. Go in and take a look around if you like.

As you come to the end of this block take a look to your left, you will see the Steinbeck Plaza where we began our tour. Cross the street ahead of you, Prescott and continue walking along the trail.     

To your left will be the entrance to the Steinbeck Plaza Shops. Inside, you will find a number of specialty shops, galleries and gift stores.  Two of our favorites are Five and Dime General Store and Adventures by the Sea.

Up ahead, you can’t miss it, is the historic red caboose. The original steel car with wood exterior siding was built in 1916 as a boxcar and converted into a caboose in the 1940s.

It found its way to this location on the Monterey Coastal Trail in 1968 and was owned and run as a railroad memorabilia shop by noted local author Randy Reinstedt and his wife Debbie from 1974 until it was sold to Pebble Beach resident and real estate broker, Ed Ciliberti in 2018 for $27,000. 

Ed has been busy refurbishing the caboose with new paint, courtesy of Carmel resident John Stuefloten, whose company specializes in historic paint restorations. He hopes to open the railroad car as a mini-museum to the public very soon. 

This red caboose serves as a reminder to residents and visitors alike that this portion of the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail was at one time part of the Southern Pacific Railroad extension running from Castroville to Monterey. I will tell you more about this later on the tour. But, for now continue walking straight along the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail. 

On your left is the flat roofed peach colored building with green trim. This is Cooper’s Pub and Restaurant. The back entrance, which is used by visitors walking along the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, is just down the stairs to your left.

The green door to the pub is located under the Cooper’s sign. If you are in the mood for British pub fare like fish and chips, cottage pie or bangers and mash they open at 11:30 am daily . 

Just past Cooper’s do you see the sleek modern cement gray building with walls of glass?

This $42 million, environmentally sustainable, 25,000 square foot center, is the Bechtel Family Center for Ocean Education and Leadership. Opened in 2019, the Bechtel Education Center expands and enhances the Aquarium’s educational programs by offering free informative programs for teachers and students. The first floor is open to the public so go on in if you have the time.

When you're ready, cross Hoffman and continue walking straight along the Monterey Coastal Trail.

On your right is the Wave Street Café, a nice place to stop for a cup of coffee and pastry. 

Now to your left directly across the parking lot are the ruins of the San Xavier Fish Packing Company. This was founded by Swiss immigrant Frank Raiter in 1917. I will tell you more about this cannery later on this tour.

But for now I want to fill you in on how and why the railroad came to Monterey.

Before the railroad came to this area in the 1870’s, Monterey was a relatively isolated town. To get to Monterey from San Francisco passengers as well as consumer goods traveled by ship or stagecoach. Both were time consuming.

As the fishing industry continued to grow in the late 1800’s it was clear that merchants needed a faster way than ship to get their products to market. 

 The original Monterey & Salinas Valley Railroad end-of-track at Monterey
 (Mayo Hayes O'Donnell Research Library) 

In 1874, the Monterey & Salinas Valley Railroad was established and it worked out well until 1880, when they went bankrupt. The larger and more powerful Southern Pacific Railroad purchased them and in 1889 the they brought the railroad back to Monterey. It would have a long run shuttling passengers and manufactured goods back and forth between San Francisco and Monterey until 1971.

In the 1930’s, a railroad spur was extended from the Monterey Train Station at the end of Fisherman’s Wharf behind the canneries along the row, along what is today the Coastal Trail. These tracks served the canneries and packing houses as goods could then be easily loaded via platforms from the warehouses directly into waiting trains.  

As you walk you will notice up a head a big rusty drum to your left at the edge of the parking lot. This is an old steel fish oil storage tank, a remnant of the San Xavier Fish Packing Company. The San Xavier Packing Company occupied the parking lot area to the left, as well as the area straight ahead along the waterfront. 

Now look just to the right of the storage tank. Can you see a metal structure peeking out of the ground?

For years, I thought this was a submarine. Well, I was wrong. It is actually an old railroad tanker car that was used to store fuel oil for the San Xavier Cannery. Over the years it was partially buried and now remains as an artifact of a bygone era. 

When you're ready, continue walking straight along the trail and at the crosswalk, which is decorated with a blue wave pattern, carefully cross the street. On the other side of the street, turn left and continue walking toward the bronze bust and railroad crossing sign.    

Have a seat on the bench facing the Ed Ricketts memorial bust. This is the site of a devastating accident that occurred on the evening of May 8, 1948.

Beloved Cannery Row resident Ed Ricketts was driving his old 1936 Buick, which he had purchased in 1947. It stalled on the railroad crossing at Drake Avenue and Wave Street. For some reason Ed continued to try and restart the stalled engine while his car sat on the tracks. The Del Monte Express, a Southern Pacific passenger train that was on its way to San Francisco, hit Ed and the car and pushed them several hundred feet down the track before the train was able to stop. Ed died of his injuries three days later. 

 Southern Pacific Railroad Del Monte Express at Monterey Station c. 1970 (Wikipedia)

Ed was nearly 51 years old. John Steinbeck who was devastated by the death of his friend, wrote, “There dies the greatest man I have known and the best teacher. It is going to take a long time to reorganize my thinking and planning without him.” The Del Monte Express ran until 1971 and the railroad tracks were removed in the 1980s to make the Monterey Bay Recreation Trail. But, the legend of Ed Ricketts lives on.   

Continue walking and cross Drake Street ahead of you. The crosswalk will have a painted blue wave pattern. 

After crossing Drake, turn left and continue to the corner of Cannery Row then turn right. Keep walking straight.  

This is the location of the Plaza Hotel shops.  The entrance to the Plaza Hotel is across the street, we will be visiting this area later.

The first of the Plaza Hotel shops is the gallery of the American painter Thomas Kinkade. Described as the “Painter of Light,” Kinkade’s is famous for his paintings of very "Carmel Cottagey" scenes and he actually had a residence in Carmel on Scenic Road until his death in 2012. 

Next door is The Wine Experience. It is open daily from 3 pm to 9 pm and on weekends they open at noon. This tasting room provides a unique set of services, from wine tasting to custom blending and bottle label personalization. They offer a range of products for both wine novices and enthusiasts, all at affordable pricing. 

Once you have explored the shop area continue walking toward the cross over with the name Aeneas Sardine Products.

This was the conveyor crossing from the Aeneas Cannery which was on the left to the warehouse on the right. Cannery operations were gathering speed during the first half of the 1940’s and Monterey became known as the “Sardine Capital of the World.” The plentiful and nutritious Monterey sardine canned and shipped in the famous one-pound oval sardine can, would feed American soldiers and allied nations throughout World War II.

The Aeneas Canning Company was founded in 1945 to take advantage of this demand but, with the sardine market crashing the following year, it was one of the last canneries to be built and one of the least successful.

Now turn right into the open space called Cannery Row Park Plaza and continue walking straight.  Then turn left back on to the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail.  

Up here on your left is another mural.  I’m sure you recognize the artist who created this mural since it is the third and final Cerney mural on this walk. The picture above shows Mr. Cerney putting the finishing touches on his mural.  It is another artistic interpretation of Cannery Row workers hanging out, waiting to hear the unique cannery whistle calling them to work.  

The white corrugated building to your left, just past the Cerney mural, is what is left of the Enterprise Packers warehouse. Enterprise Packers Cannery was also built in 1945 at the market peak. The rest of the warehouse was demolished in 2017 to build a luxury condominium residential building called The Villas. I will point out this these condos shortly.

The picture below and others like it in this blog post are of vintage sardine and cannery labels that have been made into tiles and embedded into the cement near their original cannery location on Cannery Row.  

When you're ready, just continue straight, turn left on Reeside Ave and continue walking to the corner.  

Take a look at the modern three-story cement and stucco building behind you on the corner.

Built in 2017, The Villas at 201 Cannery Row contains five luxury condominium units where the Enterprise Packers Cannery warehouse with its large fish oil storage tanks previously existed.

One of the five condos, a 2-bedroom, 2-bath 1,400 square foot unit sold for $1.5 million in 2018. Oh, and HOA fees are over $600 a month. But it does have a lovely Monterey Bay view!

The park space directly across the street was the former site of the Enterprise Packers Cannery which, along with the crossover, was unsurprisingly destroyed by fire in 1967.  

There is a plaque on the side of The Villas building that faces Cannery Row street which gives the historic background of this location. 

At the crosswalk, cross Cannery Row toward the park space directly across the road then turn right on Cannery Row and continue walking straight along the sidewalk. The large lawn space as well as Monterey Bay will be to your left.


On the weekends this lawn area is packed with scuba divers getting ready for a dive. Monterey Bay Sanctuary, which is directly in front of you off San Carlos Beach, attracts divers from all around the world. Divers enjoy 10 to 30 feet of visibility here, but wear a wetsuit, the water temperature is 50 to 60 degrees.  

This area (which is shown in the picture above) was also the location of two canneries. The E. B. Gross Canning Company opened here in 1919, it burned to the ground in September 1924 when an oil tank on the nearby Associated Oil Pier (shown in picture below) was struck by lightning and burst into flames. Over 55,000 gallons of crude oil and 600,000 gallons of gasoline burned. It literally set the bay aflame.

1924 Associated Oil Pier Fire 
 (Photo C. K. Tuttle, Monterey Public Library, California 
History Room)

Not to be deterred though, Gross rebuilt his cannery and maintained it until it was sold in 1943 to Peninsula Packing Company.

Next door was San Carlos Canning Company. It was founded by one of the major players in the Monterey fishing industry, Pietro Ferrante, who opened his sardine plant here in 1927. The cannery continued to thrive through World War II but succumbed in the late 1940’s like many others.

Both the Peninsula Packing Company and the San Carlos Canning Company burned to the ground in a fire on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 1956.  They were never rebuilt. 

When you get to the edge of the grass area, turn left and follow the sidewalk. It will veer to the left a little than back right. Just continue walking on the sidewalk.  

While you walk, look to your right. Do you see the white building with an orange life jacket and pair of oars over the gray steel door? This is the United States Coast Guard Station in Monterey.

The Coast Guard Pier which is open to the public is straight ahead of you.  If you have time you might want to explore that area also.

Otherwise, as you come to the end of the lawn area, which will be on your left, turn left toward the picnic tables and continue walking to the rock sculpture.  

Continue walking straight along the beach overlook to the cement rock memorial just ahead. 

This is the David Packard Memorial at San Carlos Beach. Packard is best known as the co-founder, along with Bill Hewlett, of the information technology company Hewlett-Packard Company or HP. Originally founded in a garage on Addison Avenue in Palo Alto in the late 1930s, the sign on the garage on Addison still reads, “Birthplace of Silicon Valley.”  

Here on San Carlos Beach, Packard is remembered and memorialized for his gifts of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute which were created because of his belief that human survival is linked to the health of the oceans.  

After you have explored the memorial and enjoyed the view along this portion of San Carlos Beach continue walking straight along the edge of the beach overlook, keeping the lawn area on your left. 

While you walk you will see the cement ruins of the Gross and San Carlos Canning companies off to your right. 

And just ahead is a bronze memorial depicting a diver’s helmet.This memorial was dedicated in 2008 to the cannery divers of Monterey. 

These courageous divers were responsible for installing, repairing, replacing and maintaining the underwater pipes that connected the floating fish hoppers to the holding tanks and ultimately the canneries. We saw the ruins of one of these holding tanks near the InterContinental Hotel and Bubba Gump Restaurant earlier on this walking tour.  

The monument lists the names of these divers. The two with asterisks by their names lost their lives while they performed their job under the waves of Monterey Bay. 

Just behind this monument is the second and final public restroom on this tour. It is in the small gray building. Past the restroom, follow the sidewalk to your right. 

Here you will find a bronze sculpture titled Sanctuary. This was created in 2001 by Michael Duffy, Tibor Hajagos and John Random.  

Continue following the sidewalk as it curves to the left back out to the street called Cannery Row, turn right and walk toward the Monterey Bay Inn which was erected on the vacant site of the Enterprise Packers Cannery.

Enterprise Packers Cannery Fire 1967 (Monterey Fire Department)

Continue walking straight along Cannery Row. This short one-half block section was the original location of Enterprise Packers Cannery which burned to the ground mysteriously in 1967.  

You'll pass under the original Aeneas Sardine Products cross over which is straight ahead. 

Turn right and walk out to the overlook of Aeneas Beach. 

From this location you get a better view of the original Aeneas cannery. 

When you're done, turn around and walk back to the sidewalk, then turn right to the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa.

Turn right under the overhang of the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa. Follow the circular sidewalk along the driveway until you get to the front entrance to the hotel. Then, turn right and enter the lobby of the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa. 

The Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa, which is perched dramatically atop the beach, is one of our favorite places to take a break along the tour route. Explore the elegant dark paneled lobby.

Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar, which is to the left down the stairs, is open for waterfront dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They also have a delightful Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 4 pm to 6 pm throughout the year. On summer evenings, Helmsman Lounge in the lobby opens at 4 pm. You can purchase a beverage of your choice here and take it outside and sit by the fire pit.

Now exit out the back door which is to the left of the lobby fireplace. 

Here you will find a rather large cement fire pit with cozy chairs to enjoy the view and the warmth of the fire. 

Periodically, it is roped off for a private gathering. But if not, it is a perfect place to stop for a moment.

Once you’ve had your fill of this view, walk past the dolphin fountain, turn left and continue past Tidal Coffee, back to Cannery Row and turn right.

Across the street are two green shingled buildings.  These are the Monterey Peninsula Art Foundation and Gallery.

The Monterey Peninsula Art Foundation was founded to bring artists together for fellowship, to exchange ideas and to further the art education of its members and the public. The gallery is open daily from 11 am to 5 pm.  

You'll shortly pass Chart House restaurant on your right. This Chart House is a local favorite for a special lunch or dinner.  

Just past the Chart House is an informational plaque which explains Hollywood’s connection to Cannery Row. Many feature film and television productions have been filmed here in Monterey and you can take Doug Lumsden's Monterey Movie Tour to learn more.

One was Clash by Night which was filmed in 1952. It starred Barbara Stanwyck and featured a young Marilyn Monroe in her first credited starring roll. She was a cannery worker and it was filmed in the San Xavier Cannery which was located in this spot on Cannery Row. 

Another fun fact, in 1948, Ms. Monroe was the first Artichoke Queen in Castroville.

Before we move on you can look across the street an see that big rusty old steel fish oil storage tank that was part of the San Xavier Cannery.  

When you're ready, continue walking straight. The chain linked fence will be on your right.

To your right, through the chain linked fence you will see the ruins of a fish ladder which was used to convey the sardine catch from the fish storage area to the processing floor in the Xavier Cannery.  

Then a little further ahead on your right will be a vacant wooden structure built in the western false front style.  This is the remains of the San Xavier Reduction Plant built in 1941. This was used to reduce fish scraps and waste to fishmeal and fertilizer.


With the remains of that fish ladder, reduction plant, fish hopper and portions of cannery walls these are perhaps the most extensive ruins left on Cannery Row. The rest of the San Xavier Cannery and its warehouses burned to the ground in 1967.

You now know about almost all the former canneries that amazingly went from boom to bust in less than 50 years.

Now it is time to learn about how this area was and is still being redeveloped.

This area that you are currently standing in front of is the last undeveloped parcel on Cannery Row. The total of 3.5 acre lots on both sides of the street are the site of a planned mixed-use project of condos, shops, restaurants and low-income housing. However, the Coastal Commission has expressed concern that Climate Change could cause the ocean to rise 6 feet in the future and this, as well as ownership questions and water issues has put the project into legal jeopardy. Developing ocean front property these days is a tough proposition. But, let’s go back in time to better understand Cannery Row’s renaissance.

  Cannery Row after the sardine fishery collapse in 1950
 (Photo J. B. Phillips, Monterey History and Art Association)

As we’ve said before, after World War II, the sardines all but disappeared from Monterey Bay and Cannery Row fell into ruins of mostly burned out shells of formerly bustling canneries and warehouses.

In the early 50’s, Salinas equipment broker Wesley Dodge formed the Cannery Row Properties Co. and bought up most of the defunct ocean-front canneries. The property was then sold in bulk to a group in the 1960’s made up of real estate developer Ben Swig, Chief Justice Earl Warren and former California Governor Pat Brown, among others.
Then, along came those restaurant managers Ted Balestreri and Bert Cutino. After operating their successful restaurant the Sardine Factory for a few years, Ted and Bert partnered with Harry Davidian and George Zarounian to form the Foursome Development Company, the precursor of the Cannery Row Company. 

These men became the driving force behind the purchase of the crumbled remains of the abandoned canneries. One by one, they purchased the run-down properties and one by one they restored and renovated these structures into what you find today on Cannery Row, a welcoming waterfront of world class hotels, wine rooms, restaurants, shopping and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Continue walking straight to the beach alongside the Spindrift Inn.  When you find the mural of two fishermen on the cement wall you will be in the right place.  

This is McAbee Beach. In the 1800’s, this area was popular with Portuguese whalers who launched their boats from this beach. Then, they would chase down a whale numerous times larger than their boat, harpoon it and tow it back to the beach. Whaling was an exceptionally dangerous business.
At the turn of the 20th century, John McAbee purchased this beach and was one of the first to pursue a commercial venture on what is today called Cannery Row. 

This was also the location of a Chinese fishing village. Their fishing village was originally further down the coast at China Point, which is now the Hopkins Marine Station. It was mysteriously destroyed by fire in 1906 and the Chinese were forced out by the owners, a subsidiary of the railroad that had significant land-holdings including Pebble Beach. The Chinese moved their settlement to this beach and lived and fished off McAbee until the 1920’s.

Continue walking straight and pass the Spindrift Inn. Across the street to your left notice the Bear Flag building.  It is just to the right of the After the Quake building. 

This is the front entrance to Coopers Pub. We passed the back entrance earlier on this tour.  The Bear Flag Building was constructed by the Wu family in 1929 as the Marina Apartments. Notice the original tile "dragon roof."  

Up ahead to your right is a Monterey Colonial style building with a red tile roof. This is just one of  Cannery Row Company’s shopping and dining plazas. It is a great place to shop and we suggest that you visit some of these stores after we finish this tour.   

For now keep walking straight to Steinbeck Plaza and stop when you get to the bronze bust of John Steinbeck.

We have come full circle, exploring Cannery Row through the eyes of John Steinbeck and recalling some of the real life characters from the 1930’s and ‘40s that formed this town. 

We followed the history of the canneries that were entwined with these characters from boom to burned down and learned the story of two men who were nostalgic for a time past and had a dream to take Cannery Row back from the chipped pavement and weedy lots. 

So now let’s read the opening paragraph from John Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row which is printed on the plaque below his bust.  

“Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses.” 

Well with that, this is where I will be leaving you. Thank you for joining me today and I hope you have enjoyed your visit on this Monterey, California Historic Cannery Row and John Steinbeck Walking Tour.

There is so much more to discover here on the Monterey Peninsula. We have a companion tour on Fisherman’s Wharf and a number of walking tours in Carmel-by-the-Sea with more under development.
Until next time, Happy Adventures!  

This tour is also available via GPSMyCity (Part 1 and Part 2)
Photos by L. A. Momboisse unless other credit is listed below photograph.


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