Pacific Grove's Chinese Fishing Village
About Pacific Grove's Chinese Fishing Village
Establishing an American Home
The trek from southern China to the west coast of the United States isn’t an easy one. A group of families, likely hailing from the Kwangtung Province, set out to do just that in the early 1850s. Along the way, however, many of the Chinese boats became separated. Several of the boats landed in Medocino, while other landed near the Carmel River in the Monterey area. After making an initial camp at Point Lobos, the group made a more permanent settlement at Point Alones in Pacific Grove. It was here they developed their fishing village, where they would stay for many years to come., only their presence wasn’t destined to last. The village burned to the ground on May 16, 1906. The families, without a village to call their own, soon dispersed throughout the region. Many established a small village at McAbee Beach in Monterey.
First Chinese Families and the Chinese Exclusion Act
Those who lived in the village were the first Chinese families to immigrate to America, according to historians. Prior to that, only male day laborers immigrated to the country. In 1882, after the families arrived from China, U.S. politicians enacted the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prevented Chinese from becoming American citizens. According to the act, should a day laborer leave the country for any reason, they would not be allowed back in. Those that didn’t leave the country to live with their families were forced to remain in country alone. The act also required resident cards. Those found without their resident card were subject to deportation, according to the act. Glass plate photographs taken of many of the residents, kept at the Museum, are believed to have been taken for the cards.
Starting One of California's Largest Fisheries
The families living in the Chinese Fishing Village were the first to recognize the potential for commercial fishing in the Monterey Bay. Others quickly saw the benefit, however, and eventually pushed the Chinese from their daytime fishing grounds. Being resourceful, they began fishing for squid in the night, thus beginning California’s squid fishery – now on California’s largest fisheries.
The Museum's Chinese Fishing Village Exhibition
This exhibit, created by California State University, Monterey Bay Museum Studies intern Marisa Mercado, presents the history of the Point Alones Chinese fishing village. In 2012, two years after Mercado developed informational panels that detail the history of the Chinese Fishing Village, artist Michael Croft used those panels to build a miniature diorama reconstruction of the historic location.
Walk of Remembrance
With the shared goal of honoring the lives of early Chinese-American settlers, the annual Walk of Remembrance is made possible by a partnership between The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, The City of Pacific Grove, The Heritage Society of Pacific Grove, The Monterey Bay Lion Dance Team, The National Coalition Building Institute – Monterey Chapter, and The American Civil Liberties Union – Monterey Chapter. The Museum also partners with Gerry Low-Sabado, a fifth generation descendant of the village, each year. Each year's program slightly varies, but all include a Lion Dance courtesy of the Monterey Bay Lion Dancers and walk from the Museum, along the Pacific Grove recreation trail, to the village's former location where the Stanford Hopkins Marine Station is found today.