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Historic Hotspot: Monterey, California
Historic Hotspot: Monterey, CA
By Julie DiNisio
As an East Coaster, I don't really give the West Coast much thought, especially in terms of historical value. And while California is often associated with Hollywood, L.A., and good vacation spots, the city of Monterey is an historic hotspot that deserves recognition.
The town was established in 1770 by Spaniards Father Junípero Serra and explorer Gaspar de Portolà, though the land was originally inhabited by the Ohlone tribe. Monterey played a key role in the Mexican-American War as the site of the Battle of Monterey in 1846. The U.S. won and claimed Monterey. Besides its history, the city is also known for its location on beautiful Monterey Bay.
If visiting Monterey, there are a variety of historic places to check out. Cannery Row is a water-front street lined with closed sardine canning factories, the muse for John Steinbeck's novel. Restaurants and shops fill many of the defunct factories, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium is located at the end of the historic street. Similarly, Fisherman's Wharf is an historic location turned tourist attraction. Built in 1870 to facilitate the sardine business, it now houses nice eateries and, yes, more shops along with the Custom House Plaza, Monterey's historical center.
The Old Monterey Jail also makes for an interesting stop as it was built in 1854 and acted as the city's jail until 1956. Also consider San Carlos Cathedral, the oldest active church in California. It was constructed in 1770, having been founded by Father Serra, and and is a beautiful example of Spanich Colonial architecture. A small museum within the church further explains its history and influence.
Thus, Monterey, California makes for a charming place to visit and glean some West Coast history.
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