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City of Monterey OnCell Tour

300 - Cannery Row

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(Scroll  down  for  audio  and  more.)

Cannery  Row

In  1919,  the  name  "Cannery  Row"  first  appeared  in  print.  It  described  what  was  then  called  Ocean  View  Avenue.  But  long  before  someone  first  had  the  idea  of  putting  sardines  in  cans,  people  had  been  making  their  living  fishing  Monterey  Bay.

The  first  real  "commercial"  fishermen  were  the  Rumsien,  the  Native  People  of  Monterey.  Going  back  almost  five  thousand  years,  this  peaceful  community  harvested  abalone  and  fished  for  sardines,  anchovies  and  rockfish  along  what  is  now  Cannery  Row.

The  first  cannery  on  the  Row,  the  Pacific  Mutual  Fish  Company,  actually  packed  -  then  later  canned  -  salmon  and  abalone.  It  was  owned  and  operated  by  a  Japanese  businessman  named  Otosaburo  Noda.  He  was  so  impressed  with  the  abundance  of  Monterey  Bay  that  he  sent  for  additional  Japanese  fishermen.  By  1896  Monterey's  first  Japanese  settlement  was  established.

It  wasn't  long  before  other  fishermen  and  canners  came  to  reap  this  "silver  harvest,"  The  street  bustled  with  workers  from  all  over  the  world  processing  the  plentiful  and  seemingly  boundless  catch.

Sardines  were  king,  and  Monterey  became  the  "Sardine  Capital  of  the  World."  By  1938,  there  were  19  fully  operating  canneries  and  reduction  plants  here.  They  employed  hundreds  of  workers  and  brought  millions  of  dollars  into  the  local  economy.

When  the  fishing  boats  arrived  to  unload  their  catch,  the  air  would  fill  with  whistles  from  the  canneries  calling  men  and  women  to  work.  Each  cannery  had  its  own  distinctive  whistle  to  summon  its  employees.

In  the  1941-1942  season,  250,000  tons  of  sardines  were  landed.  They  were  canned  for  food  and  made  into  fertilizer  or  chicken  feed.  Everyone  thought  it  would  last  forever.  But  in  the  early  1950s  the  fishery  collapsed  due  to  changes  in  ocean  temperature  affecting  the  sardine's  food,  other  environmental  factors,  and  overfishing.

The  collapse  of  the  fishery  decimated  the  fishing  economy.  The  last  cannery,  which  was  then  canning  mackerel  and  squid,  closed  in  1973.

Conservation  efforts  have  helped  California  sardine  populations  recover.  Sardines  -  along  with  other  fish  -  are  being  caught  in  Monterey  Bay  once  again.

As  you  continue  to  explore  Cannery  Row,  be  sure  to  include  other  audio  tour  stops  along  the  way.  Look  for  Pacific  Biological  Laboratories  -  also  known  as  Ed  Ricketts'  Lab  -  at  800  Cannery  Row,  the  three  workers  shacks  just  across  the  street  from  the  Lab,  and  McAbee  Beach.  Each  has  its  own  story  to  add  to  the  Row's  rich  history.


cannery-row-narration  (1 MB)

cannery-row-tag  (238 KB)

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