20. Cannery Row


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Google Map of Cannery Row

Cannery Row, the mile-long street that runs along the waterfront of Monterey Bay is best known as the setting for John Steinbeck's 1945 novel of the same name, but few people realize that it extended into the city of Pacific Grove. The street runs eight blocks, bordered on the Monterey end by the Coast Guard Pier (built in 1934) and on the P.G. end by Hopkins Marine Station. The street was originally known as Ocean View Avenue on the Monterey side, and was renamed "Cannery Row" in 1958, 13 years after Cannery Row and four years after Sweet Thursday were published.

It was and is named Ocean View Blvd. on the P.G. side.

From the 1850s to 1906, China Point was occupied by a Chinese fishing village, one of the largest on the West Coast. The industrious people who lived here fished for, dried and exported squid and other fish. Despite the intolerance they encountered from their neighbors, the Chinese flourished here until the night of May 16, 1906, when a devastating fire destroyed almost all of the village. There are more images of the Chinese Village here.

Purchase vintage Cannery Row-era sardine and squid labels
on clothing and gift items from 9395.com's online store

The American Can Company, now the home of the American Tin Cannery Factory Outlets, produced many of the cans used by the local packing houses.Part of the Hovden Food Products Corp./Portola Packing Co. building (which operated from July 7, 1916 to February 9, 1973) was located in P.G. That site is now occupied by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which opened to the public in 1984.

1995 marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Cannery Row, and the street has seen many changes. The overpowering smell of the reduction plants--which caused a great deal of contention between Monterey and P.G. and inspired the saying "Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey-by-the-Smell, and Pacific Grove-by-God"--is gone now, and tourism has replaced the canning and reduction of sardines as the main industry.

Even with all the changes, the popularity of Steinbeck's work endures, and his readers are apt to hear the strains of church music from Doc's phonograph wafting over the Row.

"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

You have now completed your virtual tour of John Steinbeck's Pacific Grove.