Explore Historic Monterey


The Explore Historic Monterey cell phone tours and brochure were made possible by a Preserve America grant from the National Park Service.

Preserving History

Restored Pacific Biological Laboratories specimen tanks

Ed Ricketts’ Marine Specimen Tanks, 1928-1948

In October 2010, as part of a grant awarded to the City of Monterey by the Community Foundation for Monterey County, conservators stabilized and protected the concrete specimen tanks located in back of the Pacific Biological Laboratories building. Marine biologist Ed Ricketts used the tanks to store marine specimens for his research and in preparation for shipment to schools, universities and museums. The tanks were originally built by Vicente Rodriguez, the previous owner of the Lab site, who used them for his fish salting and sardine pressing operation. Ricketts began using the tanks when he moved to the site in 1928.

Featured News and Events

Take our Pacific Biological Laboratories Museum (Ed Ricketts' Lab) Online Survey!

Survey Answers Due By September 22, 2014

The City of Monterey received a grant from the Thomas Doud, Sr. and Anita M. Doud Fund of the Community Foundation for Monterey County to create a museum interpretive plan for the Pacific Biological Laboratories, the home and laboratory of marine biologist Edward F.R. Ricketts, and subsequently, the clubhouse of the Pacific Biological Laboratory members. The City of Monterey has selected museum interpretive professionals to develop and produce the Pacific Biological Laboratories Museum Interpretive Plan.

To help in the development of the Museum Interpretive Plan, we are asking for your feedback and participation in the planning process through this brief survey

The Museum Interpretive Plan will identify opportunities to ensure that the PBL remains an authentic and immersive experience, while establishing a sustainable financial model. 

Go to SurveyMonkey at this link:


"Along the Way" - photographs by Susan Theodore

"Along the Way" - photographs by Susan Theodore

Now on display through October 19, 2014 at Alvarado Gallery, One Portola Plaza, MontereyExhibit

The City of Monterey, Colton Hall Museum and Cultural Arts Commission, and the Monterey Conference Center are pleased to announce the  Alvarado Gallery exhibit: Along the Way, Photographs by Susan Theodore. Susan first created photographs in Chicago neighborhoods and lakefront, trying to make visual sense of the streets, buildings and people she encountered. She began capturing images that resonated with her and sought to evoke memories and emotions in the viewer.

This exhibit offers images of Monterey she made over the past six years. Her work can be viewed online at:photographsbysusantheodore.com.

The exhibit will be on display August 8, 2014 through October 19, 2014 in the Alvarado Gallery, located at the Monterey Conference Center, One Portola Plaza.
Free Public Tours of Pacific Biological Laboratories (Ed Ricketts' Lab)

Free Public Tours of Pacific Biological Laboratories (Ed Ricketts' Lab)

October 4 and November 8, 2014

Join us at the Pacific Biological Laboratories (Ed Ricketts' Lab) at 800 Cannery Row, Monterey, for free tours sponsored by the City of Monterey. All five sets of one-hour tours are on Saturdays, and our docents will present the history of the Lab, Ed Ricketts, his friendship with author John Steinbeck, and the PBL Club that was instrumental in founding the Monterey Jazz Festival.

Dates of tours:

October 4 and November 8, 2014

Tour times for each date are:

9:00-10:00 am, 10:30-11:30 am, 12:30-1:30 pm, 2:00-3:00 pm, 3:30-4:30 pm

Make your reservation by phoning the Colton Hall Museum, 831-646-5640 between 10 am - 4 pm daily. Deadline for tour reservations is the Friday before the scheduled tours. Please arrive at the Lab 10 minutes prior to the tour.

Parking available at the Cannery Row Garage at 601 Foam Street, and other areas, see link:


Due to the Lab's historic significance and space, 15 persons can be scheduled for each tour.

Historic Monterey's Annual History Fest October 4th - 5th, 2014

Historic Monterey's Annual History Fest October 4th - 5th, 2014

Festival showcases Monterey's important role in California's early history!

Saturday, October 4, 11:00 am -4:00 pm: The center of the festival will be the Custom House Plaza where you can gather information from cultural heritage groups from all over Monterey County that will provide information, presentations, demonstrations and hands-on-activities.

“Pieces from the Past”, a sale of history related items displayed for sale on the plaza. All items are donated and sales will go towards supporting Historic Monterey. The sale will continue for the weekend as long as items last!

Museum of Monterey – Stanton Center #5 Custom House Plaza. Enjoy a film festival of continuous films reflecting the history of Monterey created by various artists and featuring many familiar faces!

Artists in the Adobes” hosted by the Old Monterey Foundation. Wander historic venues and watch local artists as they produce paintings in progress. Buy tickets to win one of the paintings donated by the participating artists, and on Sunday, view the works created on Saturday and other works created by the artist’s at the Custom House Plaza including an awards ceremony and a drawing for winners of original donated works.

House of Four Winds,  the Monterey Civic Club, 560 Calle Principal, hosts the historic adobe, featuring an exhibit of more than 20 original paintings of historic Monterey.  On Saturday well known marine painter Hans Skalaagard will present paintings and limited edition prints during a special appearance.

Royal Presidio Chapel, 500 Church Street, Saturday morning at 11:00 Dr. Rueben Mendoza gives a tour of the interior and exterior the Royal Presidio Chapel (San Carlos Cathedral) highlighting his findings from archeological activities at the site.  Royal Presidio Chapel Heritage Center will be on hand both days to show-off new artifacts and displays. 

The Lower Presidio Historic Park, 76th Artillery & Cpl. Ewing Roads, will serve as the weekend home for a Civil War encampment complete with tents, period artifacts, cannon and musket detail demonstrations and a horse drawn ambulance.  In addition, Saturday morning offers a bus tour at 9:00 am which begins at the Presidio of Monterey Museum, and covers the history of the Defense Language Institute, and includes a stop at the Berlin Wall Monument.  Walking tours of the Lower Presidio Saturday afternoon at 1:00 and 2:30 pm will recount explorer Sebastian Vizcaino's landing, Capt. Don Gaspar de Portola’s claiming of California for Spain and Argentine revolutionary Bouchard’s attack on Monterey. The tour visits the first Spanish burial, the fortifications of El Castillo and Fort Mervine, as well as monuments to Father Junipero Serra and Admiral John Sloat. Call 831-646-5640 to reserve your space for the bus tour and/or walking tours.

Saturday also includes one-hour tours of the Pacific Biological Lab at 800 Cannery Row (Doc Ricketts Lab). Tour times are: 9:00 am, 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, 2:00 pm and 3:30 pm. Call 831-646-5640 to reserve your space for the tours.

Sunday, October 5,  11:00 am -4:00 pm: Activities continue at the Custom House Plaza including Pieces from the Past and Artists in the Adobes, display and ceremonies, surprise appearances and youth music.

On Sunday, the California Constitutional Convention convenes in the House of Four Winds at 2:00 – 3:30 pm (Colton Hall is not available for public assembly at this time) just as it did in 1849 to reenact the birth of California as a state. The audience can watch history in the making with local actors portraying the California delegates as they collaborate to create California’s landmark constitution of 1849. Seating is limited. Call 831-646-5640 to reserve your seat.

Monterey State Historic Park offers free admission to the Custom House and Pacific House on Saturday and Sunday.  Designated State Historic Landmark #1, the Custom House was the center of trade and government as well as a social center for Mexican California from 1827 to American occupancy in 1846. Today, it displays trade goods that would have traveled thousands of nautical miles to reach this remote Capital of Alta California.  

Pacific House was built in 1847 for the Mexican government on land owned by the former American Counsel to Mexico, Thomas Oliver Larkin. Through the years it served many uses, including clerk’s office, court house, and saloon. Today’s interactive museum offers an overview of Monterey history from the first Rumsien/Ohlone people to California statehood. The second-floor of the exhibit contains one of the finest privately assembled Native American collections in California – a gift from Willford and Zena Holeman

Admission to all events and historic sites participating in History Fest is free.  Some events have limited space and reservations are required. For the schedule visit www.historicmonterey.org or call 655-2001 for information.