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The Monterey Peninsula Glossary

If you are new to the area or just visiting, you may encounter terms unfamiliar to you. This glossary will help you understand the local jargon.

  • Adobe (pronounced: uh-DOE-bee)
    (1) A type of brick made from clay and straw used to build many of the early buildings in Monterey.
    (2) A building made with adobe, especially in Monterey; plural: Adobes.
Cooper-Molera Adobe by James B Toy. Click to enlarge or purchase.
  • AMBAG
    Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments. A joint powers authority representing regional governments of Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito counties. Its purpose is to provide coordination between various agencies regarding matters of regional interest.
  • Asilomar
    A lodging facility and conference center near Asilomar State Beach in Pacific Grove. Many of its historic buildings were designed by architect Julia Morgan, who also designed Hearst Castle near San Simeon. It is owned by the state parks department and operated by a private contractor.
  • Big Sur
    (1) The coast between Carmel Highlands and San Simeon, often referred to as the Big Sur Coast.
    (2) A sparsely populated community with no particular boundaries in the vicinity of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Usage note: When people say "I'm going to Big Sur" or "I live in Big Sur" it is usually this general area they are referring to.
Big Sur Cow by James B Toy. Click to enlarge or purchase.
  • Bay School
    A historic 19th century schoolhouse just south of Carmel between Carmel Meadows and Monastery Beach. A locally famous co-op pre-school operation was established there in the 1950s by the late Rosa Doner. It was later sold to the Carmel Unified School District which continued operating the school as Doner had. Bay School closed in 2014 when CUSD combined the Bay School operation with a similar program at Carmel Valley's Tularcitos school, and moved both operations to Carmelo School in Carmel Valley. Originally Bay School was a one-room schoolhouse, but was expanded to a two-room schoolhouse in the early 1960s. Folk singer Joan Baez, who was a volunteer worker at the school in the early 1960s, performed a benefit concert to help raise funds for the annex. Bay School is affectionately known as The Little Red School House. Read about Mr. Toy's childhood experience at Bay School in his blog entry entitled The  Lady With The Long Black Hair.
  • Bixby Bridge
    A famous single span concrete arch bridge on Highway 1, 16 miles south of Carmel. It rises 260 feet and spans over 700 feet across Bixby Canyon in Big Sur. Built in 1932, it is one of the largest such bridges in the world. In its early days some people called it Rainbow Bridge or Mill Creek Bridge. It has been featured in many automobile commercials and a few Hollywood films. It should not be confused with the similar, but much smaller, Rocky Creek Bridge a few miles north.
Bixby Bridge by James B Toy. Click to enlarge or purchase.
  • Cabrillo Highway (pronounced: cuh-BREE-oh)
    Official name designated for the segment of state Highway 1 from San Francisco to the Las Cruces junction with Highway 101 near Buellton. This includes all of Highway 1 in Monterey County. It was named after Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who in 1542 was the first European explorer to sail along the California coast.
  • Cannery Row
    (1) The area along the shoreline and roughly two blocks inland between the Coast Guard Pier in Monterey and the American Tin Cannery in Pacific Grove.
    (2) A street name in the same area.
    (3) A novel by John Steinbeck about life on Cannery Row in the 1940s
Aeneas Overpass On Cannery Row by James B Toy. Click to enlarge or purchase.
  • Carmel Bay
    The bay between Pescadero Point in Pebble Beach and Point Lobos.
  • Carmel-By-The-Sea
    The full legal name of Carmel. 
  • Carmel Hill
    The hill between Monterey and Carmel, especially the highway. 
  • Carmel Hill Interchange
    The freeway interchange at the junction of Highway 1 and Highway 68 at the top of Carmel Hill. 
  • Carmel Point
    The small peninsula at the edge of Carmel Bay between the city of Carmel and Carmel River State Beach.
Rugged Carmel Point by James B Toy. Click to enlarge or purchase.
  • Carmel Woods
    The residential area on the north side of Carmel.
  • Catellus properties
    The land on each side of the entrance to the Municipal Wharf in Monterey. Originally owned by the Southern Pacific Railroad, it is now city property. The old Monterey train station is located on the western half of the property. 
  • CAVE People 
    Citizens Against Virtually Everything. A derogatory term referring to people who are opposed to and actively fight against what they feel is inappropriate development. The term arose because nearly every development receives significant opposition. 
  • CDR
    Canyon Del Rey Boulevard in Seaside and Del Rey Oaks. This abbreviation is primarily used by public agencies, such as police, fire, and public works. Most normal people use the full name. 
  • China Point
    See: Point Cabrillo. 
  • CHOMP
    Community Hospital Of the Monterey Peninsula. It is located just off of highway 1 near the Carmel Hill interchange.
  • Court of the Golden Bough
    A courtyard of small retail shops in Carmel on Ocean Avenue at Monte Verde. It was the site of the original Golden Bough Theater which burned down in 1935. (See also: Golden Bough Playhouse.)
  • Crosby, The
    An archaic term for what is now known as the AT&T Pro-Am Golf Tournament. It is based on the tournament's original name: the Bing Crosby Pro-Am Golf Tournament.
  • Crosby Weather
    Stormy weather that often occurs during the AT&T Pro-Am Golf Tournament.
  • CSUMB
    California State University Monterey Bay, located at the former Fort Ord. Informally known as UFO (University at Fort Ord)
  • Custom House Plaza
    The plaza at the north end of downtown Monterey between the Portola Hotel and the old Custom House.
  • Custom House Tunnel
    The tunnel connecting downtown Monterey with New Monterey and Cannery Row. It runs beneath the Custom House Plaza. Also known simply as The Tunnel.
  • Del Mesa
    A retirement community in Carmel Valley. Its full name is Del Mesa Carmel, but most residents use the two-word version as in "I live at Del Mesa."
  • Del Monte Forest
    The forested residential areas of Pebble Beach. Also known simply as "The Forest."
  • DLI
    The Defense Language Institute, located at the Presidio of Monterey.
  • Fisherman's Flats
    A residential neighborhood near the southeast corner of Monterey. It was so named because fishermen used to lay their nets out there for drying because the area gets less fog.
  • Fisherman's Wharf
    A public pier on the north side of downtown Monterey. It is a major tourist attraction. It features numerous restaurants, gift shops, and is the local base for whale watching and fishing tours. It is one of two wharves in Monterey Harbor. The other is called the Municipal Wharf (see).
Fisherman's Wharf by James B Toy. Click to enlarge or purchase.
  • Foot of Ocean
    The parking area and beach at the western end of Ocean Avenue in Carmel. Interestingly the parking lot is shaped like a foot at the end of a long leg.
  • Forest, The
    See: Del Monte Forest.
  • Forest Theater
    An outdoor theater in Carmel on Mountain View Avenue at Santa Rita Street. It was founded in 1910.
  • General Jim
    Short for General Jim Moore Boulevard on the east side of Seaside.
  • Golden Bough Playhouse
    A live theater in Carmel on Monte Verde Street between 8th and 9th Avenues, currently owned by Pacific Repertory Theater. It was moved to this location after a fire destroyed the original theater on Ocean Avenue, site of the current Court of the Golden Bough (see). 
  • Golden Rectangle
    A term used by real estate agents to refer to the area roughly bounded by Mission, 8th, San Antonio and 13th streets in Carmel. Most people don't think it's any better than any other Carmel neighborhood.  
  • Golden State Theatre
    A 1926 movie palace in downtown Monterey. It is the largest theater ever built on the Peninsula. 
  • Hatton Fields
    A Carmel residential area between Highway 1 and Rio Road, overlooking the mouth of Carmel Valley. Also known as The Mesa. 
  • Hartnell Gulch
    A deep creekbed next to the Monterey Public Library. 
  • High Meadow
    A residential area east of Highway 1 at Carpenter Street. 
  • Holman Highway
    The segment of Highway 68 between Carmel Hill and Pacific Grove. It was named after Wilford R. Holman, one of the family owners of Holman's Department Store in Pacific Grove, who advocated construction of a direct road between Carmel and Pacific Grove. 
  • Hopkins Marine Station
    A marine biological research facility, a branch of Stanford University, located on Point Cabrillo (a.k.a. China Point) in Pacific Grove just northwest of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
  • Hurricane Hill
    The highest point on the highway to Big Sur, located between Bixby Bridge and the Little Sur River.
  • Jacks Peak
    (1) The ridgeline between Monterey and Carmel Valley.
    (2) A county park on part of that ridgeline.
  • Lagoon, The
    The lagoon and wetlands at the mouth of the Carmel River at Carmel River State Beach. 
Carmel River Lagoon by James B Toy. Click to enlarge or purchase.
  • Little Red School House
    See: Bay School
  • Lone Cypress
    A famous Monterey cypress tree on the rocky Midway Point on 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach. It is often referred to as the most photographed tree in the world, and is considered a symbol of Pebble Beach. 
  • Lovers Point
    A prominent rocky outcropping and park on the northern shoreline of Pacific Grove at the intersection of Ocean View Boulevard and 17th Street. There is some controversy over the name. Some claim that it was originally called "Lovers of Jesus Point" due to the fact that Pacific Grove got its start in 1875 as a Methodist summer retreat. However, there is no documented evidence from that time indicating that it was ever so named. The shorter "Lover's Point" was documented as early as 1885, just ten years after Pacific Grove was established. References to Lovers Point as a popular place for young couples appeared soon after, strongly suggesting that the current name was also the original. Furthermore, publications suggesting that "Lovers of Jesus Point" was the original name didn't appear until the early 1970s. Some early references used an apostrophe in the name, i.e. Lover's Point, and the punctuation issue also remains controversial. 
  • McAbee Beach
    A beach on Cannery Row near the bottom of Prescott Avenue. 
  • Mesa, The
    See: Hatton Fields 
  • Mid Valley
    The shopping center and residential area immediately west of Robinson Canyon Road in Carmel Valley. 
  • Midway Point
    The famous rocky outcropping in Pebble Beach which supports the Lone Cypress.
Midway Point by James B Toy. Click to enlarge or purchase.
  • MIIS
    Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, a civilian language school located just west of downtown Monterey on Van Buren Street. Prior to 2015 it was called Monterey Institute of International Studies.
  • Mission Fields
    The residential neighborhood on the floodplain along Rio Road between Highway 1 and the Carmel Mission. 
  • Monastery Beach
    Informal name for San Jose Creek State Beach. It is located across Highway 1 from the Carmelite Monastery just north of Point Lobos. It is also grimly referred to as Mortuary Beach due to the rough unpredictable surf that has claimed the lives of many unwary beachgoers.
  • Monterey-Salinas Highway
    Highway 68 between Monterey and Salinas.
  • Monterey-Salinas Transit
    The public bus system serving the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel Valley, Big Sur, and Salinas.
  • Mouth of the Valley
    The area in the vicinity of Highway 1 in Carmel Valley, especially the shopping areas.
  • Mortuary Beach
    See: Monastery Beach
  • MPC
    Monterey Peninsula College, a community college located southeast of downtown Monterey.
  • MST
    See: Monterey-Salinas Transit
  • Municipal Wharf
    A public mixed-use pier defining the east side of Monterey Harbor. It is primarily an industrial facility, with a fish processing building at the north end. It alse features a couple of restaurants and is home to the Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club. It is also a popular pier for rod and reel fishing. You can drive out onto most of it, and public parking can be found along most of its length. It is informally known as Wharf 2 to distinguish it from the more famous Fisherman's Wharf (see). 
Monterey Municipal Wharf by James B Toy. Click to enlarge or purchase.
  • New Monterey
    The portion of Monterey between the Presidio of Monterey and Pacific Grove. It includes Cannery Row and the Lighthouse Avenue commercial corridor, but is dominated by a large residential area on the hill above. The term New Monterey was coined by real estate advertisements in 1889 when the area was first subdivided.
  • NPS
    The Naval Postgraduate School, an educational and research facility of the United States Navy in Monterey. It occupies the grounds of the former Hotel Del Monte, a large luxury resort hotel which opened there in 1880. The Navy leased the hotel for a flight school during WWII, and purchased the property in 1947. The hotel building is now known as Hermann Hall.  
  • Oak Grove
    A residential neighborhood in Monterey between the Naval Postgraduate School and Lake El Estero. It began as housing for employees at the old Hotel Del Monte. There are almost no oak trees in the neighborhood. They were cut down decades ago. 
  • Odello Fields
    The fields straddling Highway 1 at the mouth of Carmel Valley, immediately south of the Carmel River. They had been owned by the Odello family who grew artichokes on the land for many decades. They stopped farming after the 1998 flood. The western portion is now owned by the state parks department and has been restored to its natural state as wetlands. The eastern portion was purchased by Clint Eastwood and donated to the Big Sur Land Trust.
  • Offshore flow
    A reversal of normal wind conditions when air currents flow from east to west, bringing warm dry air from inland to the coast. The phenomenon usually occurs in the spring or fall and lasts for a few days. It is sometimes referred to in the feminine as "Offshore Flo."
  • Old Fisherman's Wharf
    See: Fisherman's Wharf
  • Pearly Gates
    An underused term for the gates into Pebble Beach. 
  • Pescadero Canyon
    A narrow canyon that defines the boundary between Carmel and Pebble Beach. It runs from Highway 1 to Carmel beach. 
  • Pescadero Point
    The southwestern extremity of Pebble Beach, on the north side of Carmel Bay. 
Pescadero Point by James B Toy. Click to enlarge or purchase.
  • PG
    Pacific Grove
  • Pagrovian
    A resident of Pacific Grove.
  • Pillbox Row
    Informal name for Cass Street in Monterey, which is almost entirely lined with medical offices. 
  • Pine Cone
    (1) The Carmel Pine Cone, a weekly newspaper.
    (2) A cone shaped pod of seeds from pine trees. 
  • Plaza, The
    (1) The Monterey Plaza Hotel on Cannery Row.
    (2) The Carmel Plaza shopping center on Ocean Avenue between Junipero and Mission Streets. 
  • Point Cabrillo
    A fairly large point in Pacific Grove, just northwest of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where the Hopkins Marine Station (see) is located. Also known as China Point for the Chinese fishing village that occupied the area circa 1900. 
  • Recreation Trail
    See: Shoreline Recreation Trail. 
  • RLS
    Robert Louis Stevenson school in Pebble Beach. 
  • Ryan Ranch
    A business park in Monterey east of the Monterey Airport along Highway 68. 
  • Shoe, The
    A football trophy, an actual bronzed football shoe, representing a rivalry between Carmel and Pacific Grove high schools. Possession of the shoe is awarded to the winner of an annual "shoe game." The tradition began in 1948. 
  • Shoreline Recreation Trail
    A walking and bicycle trail which roughly follows the shoreline. It begins at Lover's Point in Pacific Grove, runs through Monterey and northward through Seaside, Sand City, and the former Fort Ord to Marina. 
  • Spanish Bay
    The bay which straddles the border between Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach. The Inn at Spanish Bay is located there. 
  • Stewart's Cove
    A small portion of Carmel River State Beach at the south side of Carmel Point. It was named for the Stewart family which owned a large house overlooking this part of the beach. The house was demolished in 1980.
Stewart's Cove At Sunset by James B Toy. Click to enlarge or purchase.
  • Stillwater Cove
    A cove located on the northern portion of Carmel Bay by the Pebble Beach golf course. It is so named for its calm waters and is a haven for small boats.
  • Stilwell Hall
    A large red-roofed building that once stood west of Highway 1 at Fort Ord. It was built as a soldier's club by General Joseph Stilwell of Carmel, and named in his honor. It was demolished in 2003 when beach erosion ate away at the sand dune it was built on.
  • Sunset Center
    A performing arts theater and community center on San Carlos Street in Carmel. The building was originally a public school called Sunset School.
  • TAMC (pronounced: TAM-see)
    Transportation Agency for Monterey County, a joint powers agency governed by the five county supervisors and a representative from each city in the county. They set priorities and policies for transportation. 
  • Tarpy's Flats
    The field along the south side of Highway 68 east of the Monterey airport entrance. It was named after a 19th century Watsonville man named Tarpy who, after a long feud with his neighbor over a property line, accidentally (?) shot his neighbor's wife. Tarpy was taken to the Monterey jail, but an angry mob overpowered the jailers and lynched him on that field. 
  • UFO
    See: CSUMB 
  • Village, The
    (1) Short for Carmel Valley Village.
    (2) The prison where Number 6 was held. 
  • Wharf 2
    Informal name for the Municipal Wharf in Monterey, just east of Fisherman's Wharf.
  • Window On The Bay
    A waterfront park in Monterey between Del Monte Avenue and the beach in the vicinity of Lake El Estero. Starting in the mid-1980s the city and state began buying up commercial properties as they become available and demolishing the buildings to open up views of the bay (hence the origin of the term). See also: Window On The Bay, The Lost Opportunity in our history section.