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Monterey was the capital of Alta California under both Spain and Mexico. It was the only port of entry for taxable goods in California. In 1846 the U.S. flag was raised over the Customs House, and California became part of the United States after the Mexican–American War.
The city had California's first theater, public building, public library, publicly funded school, printing press, and newspaper. The city and surrounding area have attracted artists since the late 19th century and many celebrated painters and writers have lived there. American writer John Steinbeck made the area famous with his books; most notably "Cannery Row". Until the 1950s, the area's primary industry was fishing. To this day, fresh seafood is a local staple and people come from all over the world for the Clam Chowder found at the modern day Cannery Row.
Among Monterey's other notable present-day attractions are the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Fisherman's Wharf and the annual Monterey Jazz Festival. Every year the community is filled with countless big events and festivals (check out See Monterey for a calendar).
Pacific Grove is known for its Victorian homes, Asilomar State Beach, and is also known as the "Butterfly Town U.S.A." for the annual migration of the Monarch butterflies. The city is endowed with more historical houses per capita than anywhere else in California. Seventy-five percent of the homes in Pacific Grove are considered historic, and the street along the Recreation Trail is lined with their colorful bay windows and spires.
The city is also known as the location of the Point Pinos Lighthouse, the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast. The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History and Pacific Grove Art Center are located in the historic downtown. Pacific Grove was also the main filming location for Roger Spottiswoode's 1989 film Turner & Hooch as well as A Summer Place, starring Sandra Dee.
Carmel is known for its natural scenery and rich artistic history. In 1906, the San Francisco Call devoted a full page to the "artists, writers and poets at Carmel-by-the-Sea", and in 1910 it reported that 60 percent of Carmel's houses were built by citizens who were "devoting their lives to work connected to the aesthetic arts."
Early City Councils were dominated by artists, and the city has had several mayors who were poets or actors, including Herbert Heron, founder of the Forest Theater, bohemian writer and actor Perry Newberry, and actor-director Clint Eastwood (who also became the town's Mayor from 1986 to 1988). Hollywood actress and songstress Doris Day founded and continues to own the historic Cypress Inn in the heart of downtown Carmel.
The city is known for being dog-friendly, with numerous hotels, restaurants and retail establishments admitting guests with dogs. Carmel is also known for several unusual laws, including a prohibition on wearing high-heel shoes without a permit, enacted to prevent lawsuits arising from tripping accidents caused by irregular pavement.
In 1946, Byington Ford and his brother, Tirey Ford, developed the Carmel Valley Village and Airway Market, first known as the General Store, a barber shop, a drug store and soda fountain, a beauty shop, and a liquor store. All were in walking distance of the Airpark and decorated to resemble a Mexican village. Today, this local area is known as Carmel Valley.
Offering a warmer and drier inland climate than its coastal counterpart of Carmel-by-the-Sea, residents of this area enjoy rural living (and generally larger land lots). But, it's also a prime tourist destination thanks to a number of high end luxury hotel properties, golf courses, and wineries.
Many tasting rooms are clustered in Carmel Valley Village, only a short stroll from several inns and lodges.
Wineries with tasting rooms include Bernardus, Boëté, Chateau Julien, Chateau Sinnet, Folktale, Galante, Georis, Heller Estate, Joullian Village, Joyce Vineyards, Parsonage, San Saba and Talbott.
The Pebble Beach Golf Links, The Inn at Spanish Bay, The Lodge at Pebble Beach and four of the eight golf courses inside the Pebble Beach community are among the local assets owned by the Pebble Beach Company. Area open space is partly administered by the Del Monte Forest Conservancy, a non-profit organization designated by Monterey County and the California Coastal Commission.
The name Pebble Beach was originally given to a rocky cove and beach strand, a prominent coastal segment of the Rancho Pescadero Mexican land grant that had been awarded to Fabián Barreto in 1836. In 1860, David Jack bought the Mexican land grant, then sold it in 1880 to the Pacific Improvement Company (PIC), a consortium of The Big Four "railroad barons." By 1892, the PIC laid out a scenic road that they called the 17-Mile Drive, meandering along the beaches and among the forested areas between Monterey and Carmel, offered as a pleasure excursion to guests of the Hotel Del Monte.
Pebble Beach has eight public and private 18-hole golf courses. Pebble Beach Golf Links, The Links at Spanish Bay,Spyglass Hill and Peter Hay Golf Course are owned by Pebble Beach Company and are all public courses. Poppy Hills is also a public course. Private courses located at Pebble Beach are Cypress Point Club and the private Monterey Peninsula Country Club's two courses, the Dunes Course and the Shore Course. Pebble Beach Company also owns Del Monte Golf Course a few miles away in Monterey, which is the oldest continuously operating course in the Western United States.