Intersection and Divide in Monterey

Intersection and Divide in Monterey


Although a connection between the fishing industry and tourism industry, their intersection has resulted in great divides.  These two industries have coexisted and competed in Monterey for ages raising/creating various social and environmental issues.  Monterey has been a social crossroads of laborers and the elite, and the industries that host them have affected the natural environment.  First settled by the Spanish, Monterey was made home by various immigrants including the Chinese, Japanese, and Italian, all whom gathered there for fishing opportunities.

A peninsula in California, Monterey, provided ample fishing opportunities.  The different cultures had their different ways/styles of how they fished and what species they fished.  They coexisted, yet kept their distances.  The fishing industry grew, and the area became known for its Cannery Row, home to many fish factories to host/produce for consumers.  The fishing industry rose and fell, as did the tourism industry.  The two did not need one another to exist but they caused plenty of friction.

Tension rose especially when the Pacific Improvement Company and various business types saw opportunity for tourist attraction in the pleasant seaside environment of Monterey.  The development of the Hotel Del Monte and all of its grandeur and exoticism was a resort for the elite.  The tourists complained about the fisheries and the odors stemming from them.  The Chinese fisherman/villages were mostly affected by criticism and suppression.  The whites wanted them out.  They viewed them as different class of people, primitive, living in squalor.  Even the women were judged for working equally alongside the men.  The social classism had its ramifications causing segregation and tension.  The Chinese held their own, claim their stake in the area that they made home and supported by their fishing industry.  They also were exploited, filled service positions at the hotel, provided some souvenirs to tourists, and overall provided the hotel with fish.  A real hypocrisy when the white elites complain about the very people who essentially feed their bellies with fresh seafood.

The arrival of the railroads to the area fueled the desire for touring Monterey.  The land/nature itself was a beauty and a getaway for many tourists.  Tourism and fishery’s affected the natural environment.  Waste, sewage, drained into the bay/ocean, causing polluted water with layered sludge.  The elites did not accept the responsibility.  The fishing industry and competition that came with it caused over-fishing.  Some anglers also caught species at the immature stage, which affected procreation.  In addition, in the early 19th century, whaling was an industry, and we know the ramifications of that.  Fisherman, consumer, tourist, residents, businessmen, transplants, however you look at it, it was people and their industries that changed the natural landscape of Monterey.  For better or for worse.

More social and environmental change occurred later in the 20th century.  In the 60s, 70s, 80s, people/researchers/historians became more interested in the changes whether social or environmental.  Attention to ecological concerns of the industrialized and abandoned areas a (the once bustling Cannery Row) as well as the natural environs was growing.  Universities, scientists, organizations all were beginning to pay closer attention to the landscape, the damage done, and what needs to be done preventive.  An aquarium was built to in a way bring back species after the fisheries/canneries were long gone (i.e. sardine fishery of WWII).  and to reintroduce the beauty of/to Monterey.  However, anywhere there is tourism, there is change.  It’s the meeting of the natural with the fabricated.  It is the juxtaposition of industries changing the face of an area.  Monterey was once a city settled by a melting pot of cultures all wanting a piece of what they saw as pie, and then overrun by whites, the elite seeking their piece.  The effect was abundant social changes and environmental change.  Where there is a human, there is change.

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