320. Cannery Worker Shacks

Cannery Worker Shacks The three tiny cabins standing here are a small reminder of the hundred or so that once dotted Monterey's waterfront, from Cannery Row to Fisherman's Wharf. They are located along what was once called the old "Chicken Walk," where a series of planks were set in the embankment as steps. People walking up the steps reminded at least one witty observer of chickens climbing slat ladders into an old chicken coop. Residents were usually single men who worked in the canneries or fished sardines during the season. Even though rent was cheap, sometimes as many as four men lived in one cabin. The little homes were a multi-cultural stew made up of men from Mexico, Spain, Japan, the Philippines, Sicily and other parts of the world. They may not have spoken each others' languages, but they shared an understanding of the work to be done. The three one-room shacks represent three of the ethnic groups who worked at the canneries during the heyday of Cannery Row. Filipinos from the island of Luzon, north of Manila, came during the 1920s through the 1940s. Japanese fishermen and cannery workers were prevalent from the 1920s through the 1930s. Spanish workers also resided here in the 1920s. Because the arrival of sardines was seasonal, so were many of the men who fished and canned them. When the season ended in mid-February, many workers moved on to the San Joaquin and Santa Clara valleys to pick fruit and vegetables. Others traveled to Alaska to harvest red salmon. However, they always returned to Monterey when the bay once again flashed silver with schools of sardines.