Gone are the days when wrinkled Sicilian fishermen clad in flannel shirts and black knee high rubber boots walked the length of the pier at the Old Fisherman’s wharf in Monterey. Thankfully, gone also is the smell of those inevitable Toscani cigars(UGH!). No longer do we see fisherwives with buckets of fish ready for preparation of the midday cioppino, or hear the pound of wooden mallets as they beat freshly caught abalone into mouthwatering tenderness.
The century old Wharf was originally built by local shipping companies to accommodate steam schooners bringing cargo and merchandise to the general stores along Alvarado Street. Eventually, it became Headquarters for the wholesale fish shippers and the thriving sardine fishing fleet. During its heyday, the catch of salmon, albacore, mackerel, rockfish, ling cod and squid from the blue waters off Monterey Bay, were brought in daily by local fishermen. Burly fish butchers prepared the catch for shipment to West Coast retail outlets and restaurants.
Today, most of Monterey’s commercial fishing activities have moved North to the city’s new Municipal pier, but the ancient wharf, with its tired timber pilings, remains alive with a variety of colorful waterfront activities. Old Fisherman’s Wharf has become a Mecca for the throngs of visitors, tourists and vacationers touring this historic area. The unique Wharf Theater majestically sits in command at the end of the wharf and files of seafood restaurants line the promenade. Short-fingered piers reach anxiously into the bay, each offering its own variety of sport-fishing trip, whale watching excursion or SCUBA diving tour. A proliferation of Art galleries, craft vendors and salt-water taffy shops contribute to the welcoming atmosphere of the Wharf and the Daily Catch can still be found at one of the few remaining fresh markets.
On the windswept bluff just south of the Wharf and overlooking Alvarado Street, one sees the statue of Santa Rosalia, patron saint of the Monterey fishing fleet, constantly watching her beloved wharf below.
OLD FISHERMAN'S WHARF IS - Open daily, year 'round - Shops are opened from 10am to 10pm, Restaurant times vary.