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Monterey, California

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Monterey in California.

 

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The City of Monterey in Monterey County is located on Monterey Bay along the Pacific coast in Central California. Monterey lies at an elevation of 26 feet (8 m) above sea level. As of 2005, the city population was 30,641. The city is noted for its rich history of resident artists beginning in the late 19th century, and its historically famed fishery.

Monterey is home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman's Wharf and the annual Monterey Jazz Festival.

Arts and culture

Monterey has a strong arts community. Museums and entertainment venues abound in the city as do local and internationally known artists.

Visual arts

Monterey is also the home of the Monterey Museum of Art. Also, the Thomas Kinkade National Archive was founded in 1994 and is located within the Harry A. Greene Mansion at 361 Lighthouse Avenue. Kinkade originals have been limited in availability since 1997, however the museum does display many of the artist's earlier work and on rare occasions and at the discretion of the artist, more contemporary works. All works in the Archive are original Kinkade works of art. The mansion is Moorish-Victorian style and has been restored to its original 1886 condition. Monterey is also the site of numerous waterfront arts and crafts festivals held in the Custom House Plaza at the top of Fisherman's Wharf.

Literary arts

Notable artists who made the area their home include John Steinbeck, who grew up in Salinas, and lived in nearby Pacific Grove for many years as well as the city of Monterey for a very short time. Steinbeck immortalized Monterey with his novels Cannery Row, Tortilla Flat and East of Eden, and his play Of Mice and Men. Among Steinbeck's friends were some of the city's more colorful characters, including Ed Ricketts, a marine biologist, and Bruce Ariss, artist and theatre enthusiast who designed and built the Wharf Theater. After Rickett's death, the new owner and a group of his friends would assemble in Rickett's lab for drinks and Jazz music every Wednesday evening. While visiting with the group, San Francisco DJ Jimmy Lyons suggested holding a Jazz celebration in Monterey, which eventually became the Monterey Jazz Festival.

In 1879, Robert Louis Stevenson spent a short time in Monterey at the French Hotel during the time he was writing "Amateur Immigrant," "The Old Pacific," "Capital," and "Vendetta of the West." The former hotel, now known as "Stevenson House", is located at 530 Houston Street and features various items that once belonged to the writer.

Music

The Monterey Jazz Festival began in 1958, presenting such artists as Louie Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and Billie Holiday, and now claims to be "the longest running jazz festival in the world" (since the Newport Jazz Festival moved locations).

In June 1967 the city was the venue of the Monterey Pop Festival. Formerly known as the Monterey International Pop Music Festival the three-day concert event was held June 16 to June 18, 1967 at the Monterey County Fairgrounds. It was the first widely-promoted and heavily-attended rock festival, attracting an estimated 200,000 total attendees with 55,000 to 90,000 people present at the event's peak at midnight on Sunday. It was notable as hosting the first major American appearances by Jimi Hendrix and The Who, as well as the first major public performances of Janis Joplin and Otis Redding.

The Monterey Pop Festival embodied the themes of San Francisco as a focal point for the counterculture and is generally regarded as one of the beginnings of the "Summer of Love" in 1967. It also became the template for future music festivals, notably the Woodstock Festival two years later.

In 1986, the Monterey Blues Festival was created and has run continuously for over two decades.

Theater arts

The building in which the first paid public dramatic entertainment in California is located in Monterey and is called, appropriately, "California's First Theater". In 1847, a sailor named Jack Swan began construction on an adobe building at the corner of Pacific St. and Scott Ave, near the Pacific House and Fisherman's Wharf. Between 1847 and 1848 several detachments of soldiers were stationed in Monterey and some of the sailors approached Swan with a proposition to lease a section of his building for use as a theater and money making venture – a proposal that Swan accepted. The enterprise collected $500 on its first performance, a considerable sum at that time. The primary mediums presented were Melodramas and Olios (a form of musical revue and audience sing-along). In the spring of 1848, the play Putnam, or, the Lion Son of '76, was presented. After the Gold Rush of 1849, much of the population, including Swan, traveled to northern California in search of riches. As a result, by the end that year, the company disbanded. In 1896, Swan died and the building was abandoned until 1906, when it was purchased by the California Historic Landmarks League, who deeded it to the State of California. In 1937, the building was leased to Denny-Watrous Management, who revived the tradition of melodrama at the now historic building. A resident company was created and named the Troupers of the Gold Coast, who maintained the tradition for over 50 years, closing for renovation in 1999.

The Bruce Ariss Wharf Theater is run today by Angelo Di Girolamo, whose brother had the original idea for a theater on the wharf. "The Wharf Theater" opened May 18, 1950 with a production of Happy Birthday, featuring a set design by Ariss. The theater also produced one of Bruce Ariss' original plays and was successful enough to draw the attention of MGM who brought the artist to Hollywood to work for several years. The theater was destroyed by fire December 31, 1959. It re-opened in 1960 in a new location on Alvarado Street (formerly "The Monterey Theater") and in 1963 was renamed "The Old Monterey Opera House". It continued until the mid-1960s, when it fell to urban renewal. In the early-1970's, discussions began about rebuilding back on the wharf itself, and theater plans began to take shape. Designed by Ariss, the new Wharf Theater opened its doors on December 3, 1976, with a community theater production of Guys and Dolls, directed by Monterey Peninsula College Drama Department chairman, Morgan Stock. Located at the northwest end of old Fisherman's Wharf, the venue continues to provide ongoing amateur entertainment.

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