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Parade of Cultures

canneries1Cannery Row’s Immigrant Heritage
The Monterey Bay has been home to many diverse cultures throughout history. First inhabited by Native Americans, then settled by the Spanish, it later became home to many Chinese, Italian, Portuguese and Japanese immigrants.

In the 16th century, over 10,000 Native Americans lived in central California coastal areas between Big Sur and the San Francisco Bay. To most, they were known as the Ohlone tribe, but with nearly 40 different tribes in the area, each had its own name and leader. Each spoke a different language and had its own customs and traditions. The tribes lived off the abundant natural plant and animal population. Acorns were an important part of the Ohlone’s diet, boiled to make thick porridge and bread. They hunted for deer, elk, bear, whale, sea lion and otter.

The Spanish began searching for the mythical Northwest Passage around 1542, believing it would connect the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Although they routinely sailed along the California coast, it was almost 200 years before they attempted to establish a settlement. The Spanish built the first mission in 1770 in Monterey, a few miles from what is now Cannery Row. Construction began on the Presidio of Monterey around the same time.

In 1814, the region experienced an influx of non-Spanish settlers, and the expansion of Monterey began. Chinese fishermen were the first to delve into the riches of the Monterey Bay. It was salmon, not sardines, that brought the original Chinese settlers here. They settled in what became known as China Point on the cove of Point Lobos in the early 1850s. When the abundance of the bay was discovered, China Point and other settlements began to grow, many consisting of stilted shanties overhanging the shoreline, with flat-bottomed fishing boats tied up at the fishermen’s back doors. By 1853, roughly 600 Chinese fishermen were trolling the bay waters.

Experienced Portuguese whalers also arrived in the Monterey area around the 1850s, drawn by the large population of humpback and gray whales. Whale blubber was used for many applications, including lighting the Monterey nights with torches. But the arrival of kerosene replaced whale oil by the turn of the century, and the Portuguese whalers turned to farming and fishing.

Japanese immigrants began arriving in the early 1890s and were responsible for the advancement of abalone fishing in the Monterey Bay. Prior to their arrival, the only way to collect abalone was free diving, and with the chilly water temperature, it was a very dangerous profession. The Japanese hard-hat divers brought new techniques along with insulated suits and helmets. Japanese immigrants launched successful abalone canning as well as salmon and sardine fishing operations. Japanese cannery workers, specializing in the cutting operation, also became a major factor in the economic life of Cannery Row.

By the late 1800s Monterey’s European population, particularly of Italian fishermen, was exploding. The Italian fishing community became so dominant, made up largely of migrants from the fishing towns of western Sicily, that the Chinese began fishing for squid at night, when their operations did not conflict with other crews. In the early 1900s, Italian fishermen introduced the lampara net from Sicily to the Monterey fishing industry. The Italian word lampara was derived from lampo or “lightening” and meant fast haul and strong construction. The round-haul net helped revolutionize the fishing and canning industry and helped Monterey earn the designation “Sardine Capital of the World.”


Event Calendar

Event Calendar

In addition to the views, attractions, pubs and restaurants, Cannery Row hosts several exciting events throughout the year guaranteed to be fun for the whole family.

Fire Pits

Fire Pits

Two of nature’s most mesmerizing elements—ocean and fire—come together in Cannery Row in a beautiful way at these four fire pits you don’t want to miss. The Monterey Bay’s moderate climate makes the Row an ideal place to cozy up next to a warm fire while you savor the sights and sounds of the ocean.

Wildlife watchers will find a surprising array of animals and aquatic plant life on Cannery Row, ranging from marine mammals to stunning seabirds to captivating kelp beds.

Sand in Your Shoes
The entire length of Cannery Row runs parallel to the coastline of the Monterey Bay, which means you’re never more than a few minutes from the water. This might be why Coastal Living magazine recently named Monterey as the “Happiest Seaside Town in California.”

With a scenic waterfront location, convenient trail access and spas catering to sports-minded individuals, Cannery Row makes a great home base for active travelers. Here are five can’t-miss athletic endeavors to try this season.

Small Bites

Small Bites

Cannery Row is home to over 25 different restaurants, but don’t be intimidated by all the options. Instead view it as an opportunity to embrace variety by trying small bites at several different spots.

Premium Cigars
A good cigar can be an excellent choice for just about any guy on a holiday gift list this year. Cigars are making a comeback and with so many options, and that includes a wide variety of accessories for the cigar lover, it's relatively easy to find just the right smoke and accessories to go along with it.

Fun and Games
When you think of Cannery Row, you probably don’t picture blacklights, billiards, mazes and lasers. If this is true, then you’ve been missing out. Beyond the shopping, eating and ocean, there are activities galore to keep the whole crew occupied.

Wine Tasting
Cannery Row wine tasting offers the ultimate California experience, bringing together the tastes of wine country with the beauty of the bay. Monterey County boasts over 39,000 acres of wine grapes, almost half of which are devoted to its award-winning Chardonnay grape.



With nine appellations nurturing a variety of grapes, and more than 60 tasting rooms welcoming guests, Monterey County is a destination popular with both winemakers and wine drinkers.

Steinbeck Plaza
A History That's Unforgettable
Cannery Row