Pacific Grove

Pacific Grove is the only city in the U.S. to ever pass an ordinance making it a misdemeanor to hurt a butterfly. I first visited the city in the early 2000s to attend an art show at the Pacific Grove Art Center. It was December and its downtown was lit up with Christmas lights like Bedford Falls in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I walked about the silent streets, entranced by the 19th century Victorian homes and coastal cottages. It all started in 1855 with the building of the Point Pinos Lighthouse, which still operates. Twenty years later, a group of Methodists founded a seasonal retreat center and campground nearby, a place that inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write: “I have never been in any place so dreamlike.” A burgeoning Chinese fishing village developed on the town’s rocky shoreline, but “mysteriously” burned in 1908 and was never rebuilt. In May 2022, the Pacific Grove City Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution that apologizes for the burning of the village and for racism and discrimination faced by Chinese Americans over 170 years.  

I took these photos on a recent visit to Pacific Grove, neighboring Monterey, and Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. 

Published by Ed Aust

I'm a photographer and writer living in Oakland, CA.