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Monterey


California

Monterey: Fishermen's Wharf


Monterey's Fisherman's Wharf served many purposes before it became the promenade of fish markets, shops and restaurants it is today.

Originally a pier where trading schooners unloaded their cargo, it was built in 1846 for the many trading vessels bringing goods from around Cape Horn. At that time California had not yet gained statehood and Monterey was the major port on the Pacific.
Although the booming whale industry took over the pier in the following years, it was the tiny sardine that made Monterey an industry leader. They helped the city become the fish-canning capital of the world and led to the founding of a Wharf neighbor, Cannery Row, which was later immortalized in John Steinbeck's book by the same name. Sardines did not have a monopoly on the Wharf. Daily catches of salmon, albacore, tuna, mackerel, rock cod and squid were unloaded there too.
Many of these same fish markets that were founded during the heyday of the sardine industry still sell their daily catch on the Wharf. Monterey's commercial fishing fleet is now based at the Municipal Wharf, while the old pier is host to visitors with a taste for history and seafood meals and to locals shopping for the fresh bounty from the sea.
Sport fishing, sight-seeing and whale-watching boats line the old Wharf and offer hands-on enjoyment of the Monterey Bay.
Seals, sea lions and otters provide daily entertainment with their barking and antics. Among the wood-planked pier, shops sell the creations of local artists and artisans, as well as other treasures.
A wharf-side adjunct open to the public is the Custom House, California's oldest public building. In 1846, Commodore John Drake Sloat and his troops first raised the 28-starred American flag over the Custom House, claiming for the United States a vast Western Territory that now forms all or part of seven states.

Fisherman's Wharf has seen many changes since that time but the aura of masted trading ships, whalers, fishing boats and hardy seafarers somehow lingers, attended by barking sea lions and wheeling gulls.

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Document Information
Source: Monterey CVB, City of Monterey
Last modified: 20041001
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