Monterey, California: Historic Cannery Row and John Steinbeck Walking Tour
San Xavier Reduction Plant /Cannery Row Resurgence
Stop here and look to your right through the chain link fence. This wooden western false front style building is what is left of the San Xavier Reduction Plant which was used to reduce fish scraps and waste to fishmeal and fertilizer.
With the remains of that fish ladder, reduction plant 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. I will now tell you 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 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.
Now continue walking straight while I tell you more about Cannery Row's renaissance.
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 properties and one by one they restored these structures into what you see today, a welcoming waterfront of world class hotels, wine rooms, restaurants, shopping and the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Keep walking straight.