Monterey in Monterey County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Monterey History Time Line
Native Americans of this region lived in Monterey for thousands of years before Spanish explores arrived in California.
First Recorded Sighting of Monterey Bay
Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo, a Portuguese navigator sailing for Spain, sights Monterey and names it “Baia de los Pinos.” Bay of Pines.
Port of Monterey Named
Sebastian Vizcaino, a Spanish explorer, anchors in the bay and names it Monterey, in honor of Gaspar de Zuniga y Azevedo, the Count of Monte Rey, Viceroy of New Spain and sponsor of the expedition.
Spanish Expedition Claims Monterey
Captain Don Gaspar de Portola reaches Monterey on his second land expedition. Father Junipero Serra arrives by ship. Together they claim Monterey for Spain and establish the Mission and Presidio of San Carlos Borromeo de Monterey.
Spanish Capital Moves to Monterey
The provincial capital moves from Loreto, Mexico to Monterey.
Arrival of de Anza Expedition
After a 2,200-mile
A Spanish military fortification is constructed on an ancient Native American village site overlooking Monterey’s harbor.
Royal Presidio Chapel
The oldest building in Monterey, this is now the San Carlos Catherdral.
Alta California is divided from Baja California and Monterey is named the captial of Alta California; it remains under Spanish jurisdiction.
During the Spanish-American wars of independence, Hippolyte de Bouchard, a Frenchman commanding an Argentinean privateer, lands and captures Monterey, driving the Spanish defenders inland. After ransacking the town, Bouchard and his men sail down the coast continuing their attacks at several ports.
The Hide and Tallow Trade
Ships from Boston begin arriving to purchase hides, often called “California banknotes”, and tallow from missions and ranchos. Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana leaves us a grand description of this trade.
Mexican Independence From Spain
California acknowledges Mexico’s independence from Spain, which was declared in 1821. Monterey remains capital of Alta
A Mountain Man Jailed in Monterey
Jedediah Strong Smith, a mountain man and beaver trapper, opened the first American overland route to California in 1826. The following year the Mexican government jailed him in Monterey because they thought he was a spy.
One portion of this building was constructed by the Mexican government for the collection of duties from foreign shipping. After the United States takes California, the American government expands the building and operates it as a United States Customs House until 1867. It is the oldest U.S. government building in California.
Port of Entry
Monterey is designated as the only port of entry for Alta California. All foreign ships must have their cargoes inspected at the Custom House and pay import taxes.
California Mistakenly Claimed for the United States
Believing that the United States is at war with Mexico, Commodore Thomas ap Catesby Jones, Commander of the American Pacific Squadron, captures Monterey and claims California for the United States. When he discovers this mistake, he apologizes and sails away.
American Flag Raised at Monterey
With the outbreak of hostilities with Mexico, Commodore John Drake Sloat, as commander of the
First Newspaper is Established in Monterey
Robert Semple, participant in the Bear Flag Revolt and later President of the California Constitutional Convention, and Walter Colton , Alcalde of Monterey, establish the first newspaper in California, The Californian.
News of the discovery of gold at Coloma reaches Monterey. Many people depart for the gold fields, leaving Monterey almost abandoned.
First Post Office in California Established at Monterey
The Pacific mail steamer “California” arrived in Monterey on February 24, 1849. This exciting event brought the first mail to the first post office in California.
California State Constitutional Convention
Colton Hall serves as the site of the first California constitutional convention. Forty-eight delegates from ten districts in California debate for six weeks to create the state’s first constitution. This constitution was written in both Spanish and English.
First Public Library in California is Established at Monterey
Colton Hall Completed
Walter Colton, Alcalde of Monterey, completes the construction of Colton Hall
California is admitted to the United States as the 31st state. The constitutional convention of 1849 designated San Jose as the first state capital.
The Great Seal of the State of California
(At this point the series of plaques makes a 90 degree, left turn. No pun intended. They were added later.)
On March 30, 1850, by special act of the State Legislature, it was proclaimed that “lands heretofore known and acknowledged as the Pueblo of Monterey shall henceforth be known as the City of Monterey.”
A City of Women
Monterey’s women of all nationalities gathered and while doing wash provided a medium of information through the “Wash Tub Mail” at Washer Women’s Gulch. It was Monterey’s women who kept the town’s businesses and commerce alive when most of the men left for the gold fields.
Chinese immigrants arrived in Monterey and created the area’s first commercial fishing trade. By using techniques imported from Chin the innovative fishermen developed a dried-fish market which capitalized on the growing Chinese population
Monterey Shore Whalers
Captain J.P. Davenport organized the fist shore whaling company which was followed in 1855 by seventeen Portugese (sic) fishermen who started the “Old Company.” Between 1854 and 1888, over 95,000 barrels of whale oil were produced from Monterey Bay whales.
City Lands Sold
David Jack’s acquired 30,000 acres of City of Monterey lands for $1,002.50 and became the most prosperous land baron in the city’s history. He was immortalized not with a statue but through Jack’s Peak, Jack’s Park and Monterey Jack Cheese.
Emporium of the Valleys
Between 1850-1880 Monterey was a commercial port and known as the “Emporium of the Salinas and Carmel Valleys.” In 1869, the Pacific Steamship Company completed a “good and substantial wharf.”
Monterey’s First Railroad
The Monterey and Salinas Valley Railroad was constructed as a narrow-gauge railroad linking Monterey to the rest of California. For the first time, Monterey was easily reached by land bringing hope to Monterey’s new destiny.
World renowned artist Jules Tavernier established a studio in Monterey. A bohemian culture soon followed as Monterey became a favorite
Italian Fishermen arrived in Monterey and joined the Chinese in harvesting fresh fish for shipment throughout California via the Monterey and Salinas Valley Railroad. This new and important culture helped transform Monterey’s fresh-fish industry.
Robert Louis Stevenson
In poor health, almost penniless and with his literary success still a few years away, Robert Louis Stevenson created a romantic view of Monterey and its surrounding area. His written and mental notes of the Monterey coastline were later used when he wrote “Treasure Island,” “Kidnapped” and “The Old Pacific Capital.”
Hotel Del Monte
Charles Crocker utilized the Southern Pacific Railroad Company’s construction arm, the Pacific Improvement Company, to rebuild Monterey’s rail service and to construct a grand hotel to exploit the beauty of Monterey Bay. The Hotel Del Monte galvanized Monterey into a world-class tourist destination. Today the former hotel and its grounds are part of the Naval Postgraduate School.
(This plaque has been reordered. It is located near the Great Seal of the State of California)
The plaques recalling significant dates in Monterey’s history were installed to commemorate the Sesquicentennial
City of Monterey
Colton Hall Museum and Cultural Arts Commission
Dedicated October 13, 1999
Erected 1999 by Colton Hall Museum and Cultural Arts Commission.
Location. 36° 35.861′ N, 121° 53.832′ W. Marker is in Monterey, California, in Monterey County. Marker can be reached from Pacific Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 570 Pacific Street, Monterey CA 93940, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Great Seal of the State of California (a few steps from this marker); Colton Hall – Site of California’s Original Constitution (a few steps from this marker); Chaplain Walter Colton, U.S.N., 1787-1851 (a few steps from this marker); Moon Tree (within shouting distance of this marker); Gordon House (within shouting distance of this marker); Chestnut Tree (within shouting distance of this marker); Old Monterey Jail (within shouting distance of this marker); Colton Hall (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Monterey.
Also see . . . Monterey History - City of Monterey. On September 9, 1850, the U.S. Congress voted to admit California as the thirty-first state of the Union. (Submitted on February 16, 2013, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.)
Categories. • Notable Events •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 16, 2013, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 553 times since then and 19 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. submitted on February 16, 2013, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.