The native people of the Monterey region, the Rumsen/Ohlone, inhabits the village and shoreline of Monterey for thousands of years, maintaining a complex society dependent on fishing and hunting.
Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo sights the “Bahia de los Pinos” later named Point of Pines (Point Pinos). In 1602, Sebastian Vizcaino lands at Monterey Bay in search of a safe harbor for Spanish galleons and claims California for Spain.
On June 3, Father Junipero Serra and Captain Gaspar de Portola claim Monterey for Spain. Portola founds the Royal Presidio de San Carlos de Monterey and Father Serra founds the Mission San Carlos Borromeo.
On April 18, 1774, Monterey is named the capital of Las California’s, upper and lower California.
On March 10, 1776, de Anza expedition arrives in Monterey with 240 soldiers and colonists. On February 3, 1777, Monterey is declared the official capital of Alta California.
A gun cache, El Castillo, is built on the hill overlooking the harbor on what is today the Lower Presidio Historic Park. The Royal Presidio continues as the administrative center of the regional capital of Alta California. The Royal Presidio Chapel, the oldest existing building, built from 1791 through 1795.
The first adobes and stone houses are built outside the Royal Presidio grounds. In 1818 the privateer and Argentinean revolutionary, Hipolito Bouchard, attacks, burns and briefly captures Monterey.
Mexico attains independence from Spain and Monterey claims their loyalty to Mexico in 1822. Monterey becomes the port of Customs for foreign merchants trading luxury goods and tools in exchange for hides and tallow. Foreign settlers, including John B. Cooper, Monterey their make home.
In his book “Two Years Before the Mast” Richard Henry Dana described Monterey: “The Shores are extremely well wooded, (the pine abounding upon them). The town lay directly before us…the red tile roofs, contrasted well with the white plastered sides and with the extreme greenness of the lawn upon which the houses –about a hundred in number—were dotted about, here and there, irregularly. There are in this place, and in every other town which I saw in California, no streets or fences, (except here and there a small patch was fenced in for a garden) so that the houses are placed at random upon the green, which, as they are of one story and of the cottage form, gives them a pretty effect when seen from a distance. The Mexican flag was flying from the little square Presidio…”
Merchant Thomas Oliver Larkin builds the first house in the “Monterey Style,” combining New England and Spanish elements. Foreigners from England, Scotland and the United States increase their activity in Monterey.
Commodore Thomas Catsby Jones mistakenly seizes Monterey for the United States, then retreats and apologizes.
On July 7, 1846, Commodore John Drake Sloat raises the American Flag over Monterey’s Custom House and officially claims California for the United States.
Robert Semple and Walter Colton, using Vicente Zamorano’s press, publish the first newspaper in California, titled the “Californian”.
The “Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo” conceding California and other Mexican territories to the United States. James Marshall arrives in Monterey with samples of gold discovered near Sacramento.
The first American public building, Colton Hall, is completed in Monterey. On September 1, the California Constitutional Convention begins in Colton Hall. On October 13, the delegates ratify the new Constitution. San Jose is chosen as the new state capital, ending Monterey’s 75 years as California’s capital.
On September 9, 1850,California becomes the 31st state of the Union.
Chinese fishermen begin arriving in the Monterey area and Portuguese shore whalers establish whaling stations on Monterey Bay.
On October 23, 1874, the Monterey & Salinas Railroad Co. begins operating one of the earliest Granger narrow gauge railroads in California. The railroad, started by Carlisle Abbott and David Jacks, becomes “the little railroad the hope but not the fulfillment of Monterey’s new destiny”.
In August, 1879 Robert Louis Stevenson arrives in Monterey and settles into the French Hotel while courting Fanny Osbourne. Later he writes “The Old Pacific Capital”.
The Southern Pacific Railroad arrives in Monterey and the grand Hotel Del Monte, “Queen of American watering places” is opened under the auspices of railroad mogul Charles Crocker.
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 opens the door to Japanese immigration; Otosabura Nota recognizes Monterey Bay’s potential for the fishing industry.
In 1887 the Hotel Del Monte burns down and is rebuilt.
Sicilian fishing families begin moving to Monterey.
H.R. Robbins opens the first fish canning and reduction plant, followed by Frank Booth’s cannery, both canneries were located near Monterey’s wharf. In 1903 Frank Booth buys out Robbins and begins experimenting with sardine canning; he becomes known at the “father of the sardine canning industry” in Monterey.
In 1902, Otosabura Nato and Harry Malpas establish the Monterey Fishing and Canning Company on Ocean View Avenue, which would later become Cannery Row.
In 1902, the U.S. Army returns to Monterey after a forty year absence establishes the Monterey Military Reservation. Two years later the name was changed to the Presidio of Monterey in honor of the Spanish Royal Presidio of Monterey.
The demand for canned fish during World War I leads Monterey’s fishing and canning operations to become the area’s primary industry, replacing tourism.
Norwegian fishery engineer, Knut Hovden opens his state-of-the-art cannery on Cannery Row.
In 1919, developer Sam Morse purchases the Hotel Del Monte and creates the Del Monte Company: its holdings include what is now Pebble Beach.
On September 14, 1924, the Associated Oil Company fire destroys several canneries and threatens to engulf the city of Monterey. In an unrelated incident, on September 27 the In Hotel Del Monte burns and is rebuilt in the current Spanish Colonial Revival Style.
In 1931, over dinner at Cadamatorie’s Restaurant—housed in the historic Casa Serrano adobe, a group of friends established the Monterey History & Art Association to preserve the irreplaceable reminders of Monterey’s history.
In 1935, John Steinbeck publishes Tortilla Flat, a novel about Monterey’s paisanos.
In 1938 the State of California acquires the Custom House and designates it as California State Historical Monument #1.
In 1939, Steinbeck’s friend from Cannery Row, marine biologist Edward Ricketts and Jack Calvin publish Between Pacific Tides and Viking Press publishes Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, for which he receives the Pulitzer Prize in 1940.
Monterey becomes known as the Sardine Capital of the World.
Before the Second World War, Sicilian and Japanese-Americans dominate the fishing industry. More than half the fishing companies on Fisherman’s Wharf were owned by Japanese-Americans.
In 1942, Monterey’s Japanese-Americans are forced to relocate to detention camps far inland.
In 1943, the U.S. Navy leases the Hotel Del Monte to create a naval pre-flight school, leading to the establishment of the current Naval Postgraduate School.
In 1944 John Steinbeck lives at the Lara –Soto Adobe for less than a year and writes the novel The Pearl; and in 1945 his novel Cannery Row is published.
In 1946, the Military Intelligence Service Language School moves to the Presidio of Monterey, it is renamed the Army Language School and again renamed in 1963 to its current title, the Defense Language Institute.
The Sardine industry collapses.
Harlan Watkins purchases Ed Ricketts’ Pacific Biological Lab on Ocean View Avenue (Cannery Row) and forms the PBL Club made up of local businessmen that wanted to save the building from ruin.
In 1958 to commemorate Steinbeck’s novel, Cannery Row, Ocean View Avenue is renamed Cannery Row; the PBL Club, Jimmy Lyons and associates founded the Monterey Jazz Festival
The Monterey History & Art Association acquires the Casa Serrano adobe to serve as its headquarters and house their art collections.
The 1967 Monterey Pop Festival brings the first and according to many performers, the best of the large rock and roll festivals Monterey.
Urban renewal changes the face of Monterey. Many historic buildings and sites are rescued by the Monterey History & Art Association, the City of Monterey and California State Parks.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium opens on October 20th.
Monterey History & Art Association opens the Stanton Center / Maritime Museum and the permanent home of the Allen Knight Collection and its reference library.
The U.S. Congress designates the Monterey Bay as part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Fort Ord Military Base closes. California State University Monterey Bay founded on the former base. Leon and Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy founded at CSUMB in 1998.
Fort Ord Dunes State Park is dedicated.
Fort Ord is designated as National Monument administered by the Bureau of Land Management.