Monterey, California: Historic Cannery Row and John Steinbeck Walking Tour
Hello, and welcome to this Monterey California Historic Cannery Row and John Steinbeck Walking Tour. I am Lynn Momboisse and I have been visiting the Monterey Peninsula since 1964 and lived in the area for many years. This tour is a collaboration between me and my VoiceMap partner Dale Byrne.
Today’s walking tour will introduce you to Monterey’s Cannery Row. History in the area around Cannery Row dates back to the indigenous people known as the Ramsien, who made their home here for thousands of years before the arrival of the Europeans. We cover this, as well as Monterey’s early fishing industry, on our Monterey California State Historic Park and Fisherman’s Wharf VoiceMap walking tour which is a great complement to this tour.
Cannery Row, which served as the industrial heart of Monterey for the first half of the 20th century, is a street along the waterfront that was originally known as Ocean View Boulevard. It is also the location of a common story which repeats itself over and over again throughout history, that of boom to bust.
In the early 1900’s this area and Monterey Bay’s seemingly inexhaustible resource of Pacific sardine, attracted fishermen 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.
On today’s walking tour we will visit Steinbeck Plaza, Monterey Bay Aquarium, San Carlos Beach, a few of Monterey’s premiere hotels as well as a number of historic sites while getting to know some of the colorful characters who roamed these streets and were immortalized in the novel Cannery Row.
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. It 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 in 1968.
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.
Five years later, 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.
Okay we’ve got a lot of ground to cover so let’s start walking. Turn around and walk straight down the hill towards Steinbeck Plaza.
While you walk, I will explain how VoiceMap works. It uses your location to play audio automatically, at the right time and place. This means that I will be silent at times, when I am not giving directions or telling stories. It also means that you can put your phone away now if you like. There is a map on your screen if you ever feel lost. You may also end the tour at any time and resume it at any of the locations on the tour.
Continue towards Steinbeck Plaza.