Oldtown Salinas walking tour

"East of Eden's" Main Street

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Trees now shade paved sidewalks and sleek automobiles have replaced boxy, black Fords but it does not take much imagination to see Main Street as Steinbeck portrayed it in East of Eden. At the height of its prosperity this was a bustling district of banks, hotels, and stores. Today’s most active businesses are restaurants catering to visitors to the Maya movie theaters and the National Steinbeck Center.

Following is an easy three-block walking tour of East of Eden’s Main Street.

Two surviving buildings in the 100 block were patronized by Steinbeck’s mother – Pia’s Bi-Rite Grocery (#127) and Mayer’s Butcher Shop (#129). Locals say that on visits home Steinbeck ate at the Rodeo Café (#131), now Sang’s Café,

Imposing former bank structures at Main and Gabilan recall the wealth of the bankers and landowners who opposed Steinbeck’s social commentary. Kate deposited her money in the vault of the Monterey County Bank located in the Elections Building (207 Main).

Two other buildings featured in Kate’s weekly walk to the bank are Porter and Irvine’s department store (#210) and her doctor’s office above the Farmer’s Mercantile (#247). Bell’s Candy Store (#242) was located opposite the Art Deco-style Fox Theater (#243) that showed the movie Of Mice and Men in 1939.

The Muller Family Chapel (#315) where Samuel Hamilton and his daughter Olive (Steinbeck’s mother) lay before their burial is identified by a wall plaque. Steinbeck’s father’s feed store (#332) is now a popular coffee house.

At A Glance

Main Street
Salinas California

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