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Favorite thing: My first stop ever in Monterey, after filling my tank at the now demolished Valero Station, was to swing by the visitors center at El Estero Park for information on hotels, restaurants, and things to do. The lady there was kind of crabby, but we avoided her and looked around on our own. This is a nice facility with lots of great info... just be careful with some of the bums and geese that congregate in the area.
I later found out the visitors center is in the old French Consulate building. A French Consulate in California? What gives? This consulate was established in 1843 after Mexico took over California from Spain, and Monterey was the capital of the area called Alta California. The consulate served the needs of the numerous French nationals who lived and worked in the area.
Just down the street is a new Asian antiques store called Orientations. It is in the old Marsh Building that was constructed in the 1920s. There was talk of tearing down this unique building before Orientations stepped up to restore and reopen it.
Updated Nov 8, 2008
Favorite thing: The Osio Cinemas is one of those small, local theaters that every town should have, but most just can't stay in business. The Osio creates its niche by showing a variety of independent films, foreign films, and a few Hollywood blockbusters. They are also the friendliest theater around, giving numerous student, military, and senior citizen discounts, and they have no ticket sellers behind bulletproof glass with a funny speaker. With their discounts, most tickets are about $6.50 some two or three dollars cheaper than the big Wal-Mart movie complexes. The Osio has just six screens, but all are modern with comfy seats and good sound and lighting.
We saw "Mongol," the Russian-made epic about Ghengis Khan at this theater in July 2008. This is a great movie entirely in Mongolian with English subtitles that is not showing anywhere else around Monterey.
The theater is named after the nearby Osio-Rodriguez Adobe, and it was completed in 1999. It was part of the Custom House Urban Renewal Project that started in 1994.
Updated Jul 12, 2008
Favorite thing: Monterey's Coast Guard station was established in 1946. Station Monterey is under the operational control of Coast Guard Group San Francisco. Monterey's CG station covers a 120-mile stretch of coastline from Point Ano Nuevo in the north to the Monterey-San Luis Obispo County line in the south. This area is secured and protected by the 50 men of Monterey's station, along with their four small boats.
The station's flagship is the Coast Guard Cutter Hawksbill, which enforces laws and treaties and performs search and rescue along the California Coast. The fourteen men and women assigned to the 87-foot patrol boat also help promote safety in the commercial fishing fleet.
U.S. Coast Guard Station
100 Lighthouse Avenue
Monterey, CA 93940
Written Apr 5, 2008
Favorite thing: Ever heard of Monterey Peninsula Artists? Probably not, but your favorite singer certainly has. They are an agency for a bunch of singers of all genres, headquartered on 509 Hartnell Street in Monterey, next to the post office. They represent Toby Keith, Black Eyed Peas, Aerosmith, KD Lang, Lyle Lovett, The Black Crowes and about 100 other singers and bands. Kind of cool.
Though they were recently purchased by Paradigm, they continue to have a headquarters in Monterey, along with locations in Nashville, Las Angeles, and New York. Paradigm is a little more diverse than Monterey Peninsula Artists, covering television, literature, and other arts, most famous for representing the TV shows 24, Desperate Housewives, and Rescue Me.
Check out their website... http://www.montereypeninsulaartists.com/ or call them at (831)375-4889 if you want to book the Doobie Brothers for your barmitzvah.
Monterey Peninsula Artists is located in the old Gabriel de la Torre adobe. Built around 1832 by Don Jose de la Torre, the Mexican government's chief administrator of Monterey. One of the oldest buildings in town, it was used as a Federal Court under Mexican rule and continued as a court after American possession in 1846.
Updated Mar 16, 2008
Favorite thing: Many buildings constructed in the early 1800s still stand in Monterey. They are great examples of Spanish Architecture with their adobe walls, pitched terra cotta roofs, and wooden decks. Downtown Monterey has a "Path of History" with its route marked by round yellow tiles embedded into the sidewalk. The path will take you past many old buildings that were constructed during the time of Mexican rule of California. These historic buildings have a sign posted in front that usually states the name of the building, a brief history, and the year it was built.
Written Mar 15, 2008
Favorite thing: The streets and parks of Monterey have a wide variety of plants and flowers. The running trails, parks, and city streets are full of a variety of flowers including the lovely bird of paradise, blue hibiscus, lily of the Nile, Santa Barbara daisy, lilac vine, and many others.
Updated Jul 19, 2007
Favorite thing: The Golden State Theater, when it opened in 1926, was the largest theater between San Francisco and Los Angeles. After major changes and remodeling over the years, the theater was in decline in the 70s and 80s. In the 1990s, restoration began with the installation of a new pipe organ and repainting of the interior, followed by all new flooring and seating. Today the Golden State Theater shows a variety of older movies along with concerts--in 2007 they've hosted Kenny Rogers, KD Lang, and even Lily Tomlin.
The Golden State Theater is located downtown on Alvarado St.
Updated Jun 16, 2007
Favorite thing: As I drive & walk around Monterey I often see street names that make me wonder who these people were...important enough to get a street named after them, they must be important enough for me to learn about, right?
Fremont Blvd in Monterey and Seaside. Named for John C. Fremont who first arrived in Monterey in 1846, was named the first military governor of California, was one of California's first senators, and failed in a bid for President of the United States.
Sloat Ave near NPS in Monterey. US Navy Commodore John D. Sloat arrived in Monterey in 1846 and claimed California for the United States.
Alvarado St is Monterey's Main St. It is named after Juan Bautista Alvarado who was born in Monterey and served as a controversial governor of Mexican California.
Don Dahvee Lane & Don Dahvee Park are located near the Del Monte Shopping Center between Highway 1 and Munras Ave. I was surprised to find these areas are named for local land baron and businessman David Jacks...the local Mexicans used this name for him. David St, Jack's Peak, & Jack's Park are also named after Jacks.
Ord St & Fort Ord. General Edward Otho Cresap Ord was a lieutenant in 1847 when he arrived in Monterey (with William Tecumseh Sherman & Henry Halleck) and built the fort that became the Presidio of Monterey.
Major Sherman Lane...I think is named after General William Tecumseh Sherman who spent a few years in Monterey as an army Lt and Captain. As far as I can tell, he was never a major while here!
Larkin St. Thomas O. Larkin was the US consulate to Mexican California before California became part of the US.
Abrego St. Don Jose Abrego, a Mexican merchant who came to Monterey in 1834.
Cannery Row. Though the general area was always known as Cannery Row, the street name was changed from Ocean View Blvd to Cannery Row due to the fame of John Steinbeck's novel. I think Pearl St was also named after a novel Steinbeck wrote while living in Monterey.
Updated Jun 6, 2007
Favorite thing: El Camino Real--the King's Highway--is a series of roads from San Diego to San Francisco which connected Spain's 21 missions, 3 pueblos (or towns located in LA, San Jose, Santa Cruz & a 4th built by Mexico in Sonoma), & 4 presidios (at San Diego, Santa Barbara, Monterey, and San Francisco) along the California coast. The first outpost on this trail--San Diego--was established in 1769 & the final mission at Sonoma was built in 1823.
The missions were religious centers, run by a priest, for the purpose of converting the native heathens to Christianity. The presidios' main function was a strategic military fortification & barracks, primarily to prevent competing claims from Britain or Russia along the California Coast. The pueblos were designed as towns to provide food & other support to the military presidios. The last piece of the intricate Spanish colonial structure was the ranchos which consisted of 800 private plots of land land used for farming.
The Presidio of Monterey, home to the US Army base with the same name and the Defense Language Institute, was part of this series of fortifications and was created in 1770 on the strategic hillside overlooking Monterey Bay. The mission in the Monterey area was San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo; established in 1771 it was the second mission of the 21 and is the basis for modern Carmel by the Sea. Father Junipero Serra, the leader of the California missions chose Monterey as his headquarters, helping the area to flourish over the next several decades.
Today's El Camino Real is marked every 1-2 miles by a bell hung from a bent guidepost with a small sign reading "Historic El Camino Real." There are about 600 bells along the route today as it traverses parts of 14 different California roads, but most of the El Camino is US-101, I-280, and I-5.
Updated May 14, 2007
Favorite thing: Besides the Presidio of Monterey, there are other sites that recognize the local Spanish heritage in the Monterey area. I recently visited the Spanish Cross on the beach in Seaside. There, a 20-foot tall cross stands in commemoration of a similar cross erected by Spanish missionaries in 1769. A plaque at the site reads:
"In the winter of 1769, the Spanish expedition in search of Monterey Bay, under the command of Don Caspar de Portola and Father Juan Crespi erected a cross on or near this site and left this message: The land expedition is returning to San Diego for lack of provisions today, December 9, 1769."
The Vizcaino-Serra Landing Site marks the location where Sebastian Vizcanino landed in 1602, claiming this land for Spain. On June 3, 1770, Fray Junipero Serra landed on this spot and helped establish the city of Monterey.
Additionally, the area has the Presidio, the Cathedral of San Carlos Borromeo, Carmel Mission, the El Camino Real, and more.
Updated Mar 17, 2007
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