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Posted June 2006

Monterey – Character and History Retained


MONTEREY—Walking through Monterey's historic Cannery Row, it's easy to be distracted by the present. A swell of souvenir shops, ice cream parlors and pizzerias are a clear reminder that time marches on, bringing with it inevitable change.

But the past is still very much there. Behind the tchatchkes and blinking lights of popular restaurants is the revitalized shell of what was once one of the world's most productive fishing and canning operations and the inspiration for two of author John Steinbeck's novels. Wooden buildings, fishing ships, old train tracks and even a few working canneries are the still-intact links to a world of 100 or more years ago. You just have to look a little to see the past behind the present.

Throughout the Monterey peninsula, history is very much a part of the present. In fact, the town has the best-preserved collection of original historic buildings west of Williamsburg—including homes, missions, maritime buildings and hotels that date back hundreds of years to the town's founding in 1602. That's nearly 20 years before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock.

Casting a spotlight on the town's rich past, the town is celebrating its history with a series of special events during 2006. (See below) And, whether you've got days to explore the past, or just a few hours, you'll likely find a museum, walk or exhibit that will open your eyes to the history all around you.

Find out more about Monterey's History

Historical attractions are abundant in Monterey County. Monterey's Path of History literally walks you through the town's early Spanish and Mexican days and historic adobes are open daily for tours. Three of California's significant missions lie within the county borders, and historic homes, museums and other sites can be visited as well.

Monterey History & Art Association
5 Custom House Plaza, Monterey

Los Amigos de la Historia y del Arte

Old Monterey Preservation Society

Big Sur Historical Society

Carmel Valley Historical Society

Carmel Heritage Society
First Murphy House, Carmel

Monterey County Historical Society
333 Boronda Road, Salinas

- A grab-bag of Monterey history: Visit six of the landmark buildings owned by the Monterey History and Art Association, including the Maritime Museum and Casa Serrano, during "75 Treasures for 75 Years." The exhibit is a year-long celebration of the 75th anniversary of the historic society and includes more than 100 historical objects including ship models, porcelain, crystal and a hand-painted Mexican flag.

- Monterey was California's first capital. Visit Colton Hall, the site of California's first Constitutional Convention held in 1849. Today Colton Hall still retains its historic character. Authentic items as well as replicas help keep the era alive in Monterey. Colton Hall Museum, Pacific Street, Monterey City Hall, Monterey, 831.646.5640

- Take a fascinating tour of Monterey's best-kept secrets: its historic gardens. Learn about plant lore, identification, and uses. The Historic Garden League leads 90-minute walks, starting from the garden beside the Joseph Boston Store (Casa del Oro), Pacific and Scott streets. Thursdays and Fridays, 10:30am. 831.649.3364

- Fish for History on Cannery Row. A 1.5 mile walking tour starts at the historic Hoyden Cannery exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and winds through Cannery Row and the waterfront. Learn about Ed Ricketts, the inspiration for "Doc" in John Steinbeck's novels, and hear the story of the people who contributed to Cannery Row, from the native Ohlone and Esselen tribes, to the Chinese who established fishing villages, and the Portuguese and Italian fishing families. The tour makes it way to Fisherman's Wharf and the Maritime Museum of Monterey. Saturdays, 1-3pm; 866.963.9646.

- Who was John Steinbeck? Learn about the famous local author during four days of films, speakers, panels, theater, and bus or walking tours, all celebrating Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck. 25th Annual Steinbeck Festival, National Steinbeck Center, Salinas, August 3-6, 831.775.4737.

More Historic 2006 Events

August 20
Monterey on Canvas
Join art and architectural historian Kent Seavey in a lecture/walking tour on the artist of Monterey and how they interpreted the community, buildings and people. 831.372.2608, ext 13, or

September 23
Diamond Jubilee Gala
A year of commemorative events will end with a black-tie gala at the Portola Plaza Hotel. Silent and live auctions. For more details or reservations, call 831.372.2608 (ext. 13).

October 6-15
History Fest Monterey, Monterey
A week-long special focus on the history of Monterey, from the native populations who lived here first through the arrival of the Americans. Hands-on kids programs, exclusive house and garden tours, special exhibits, historical films, and stimulating lectures and workshops. 831.372.2608 ext 17 or

October 15
Third Annual Historic Home Tour
Hosted by the Friends of the Monterey Public Library, the self-guided walking tour of Monterey's most interesting vintage homes. 831.373.1241, or

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