Pacific Grove is a coastal town in Monterey County, California, USA, with a total population of 15,522 as of the 2000 census.
Pacific Grove is known for its Victorian homes, Asilomar State Beach, its artistic legacy and the annual migration of the Monarch butterflies. The city is endowed with more Victorian houses per capita than anywhere else in America; some of them have been turned into bed and breakfast inns.
The city is also known as the location of the Point Pinos Lighthouse, the oldest continuously-operating lighthouse on the West Coast, Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, located in the historic downtown, and the Stowitts Museum & Library.
It is also known as John Denver's place of death.
Pacific Grove as its shape is known today began in 1875 as a summer Methodist camp, where hundreds assembled to worship amid rough tents. In time, the butterflies, fragrant pines and fresh sea air brought others to the Pacific Grove Retreat to rest and meditate. The initial meeting of the Pacific Coast branch of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle was held in Pacific Grove in June 1879. Modelled after the Methodist Sunday school teachers’ training camp established in 1874 at Lake Chautauqua, N.Y., this location became part of a nationwide educational network.
In November 1879, after the summer campers returned home, Robert Louis Stevenson wandered into the deserted campgrounds: "I have never been in any place so dreamlike. Indeed, it was not so much like a deserted town as like a scene upon the stage by daylight, and with no one on the boards." Today, Stevenson School in nearby Pebble Beach is named after the author.
Pacific Grove, like Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey, became an artists' haven in the 1890s and subsequent period. Artists of the En plein air school in both Europe and the United States were seeking an outdoor venue which had natural beauty, so that Pacific Grove was a magnet for this movement. William Adam was an English painter who first moved to Monterey and then decided on Pacific Grove for his home in 1906. At about the same time Eugen Neuhaus, a German painter, arrived in Pacific Grove with his new bride. Charles B. Judson was an artist of aristocratic lineage who painted in Pacific Grove over a long period of time beginning in 1907; Judson's murals decorate the halls of the California Academy of Sciences.
For a number of years, John Steinbeck lived in a cottage in Pacific Grove owned by his father, Ernest, who was Monterey County Treasurer. The cottage still stands on a quiet side street, without any plaque or special sign, virtually overlooked by most Steinbeck fans. In Steinbeck's book Sweet Thursday, a chapter is dedicated to describing a (probably fictional) rivalry that arose among the town's residents over the game of roque.
Local traditions include a Butterfly Parade, in which elementary schoolchildren dress in various costumes and march through town, and the Feast of Lanterns, a Chinese-styled pageant in which a high school girl and her companions act out a melodrama.
In the 1980's, Pacific Grove was the site of the pioneering microcomputer software house Digital Research.
In recent years, Pacific Grove has seen a decrease in its population of young people with children, due to the high cost of housing and the mismatch between housing prices and the incomes available from the primarily tourist-centered local economy.
Pacific Grove contains several habitat types including marine, littoral, pine forest and mixed oak woodland. The famed breeding habitat for the Monarch butterfly is situated in the southern part of town imbedded in residential neighborhoods in mixed oak forests. These Monarchs migrate 2000 miles to reach Pacific Grove after their summer in Canada, often soaring as high as 3000 meters. The black-and-orange butterflies spend the winter in the local Monterey Pine trees from Halloween until Valentine's Day each year. City Ordinance No. 352 makes it a misdemeanor to kill or threaten a butterfly, punishable by a $1000 fine.
The principal noise source in Pacific Grove is State Route 68. There are approximately 800 residents exposed to sound levels of 60 CNEL or above, making Pacific Grove noticeably more quiet than its neighbor Monterey, which has more tourist traffic and more through traffic (Hogan, 1980).
The town sits between its two well known neighbors, Pebble Beach and Monterey. Carmel-by-the-Sea is the next city, five miles to the south, and the community of Big Sur is 30 miles south. Pacific Grove is a favorite vacation getaway for San Francisco Bay Area residents, located two and a half hours south of San Francisco.
The town does not allow development on the waterside of the ocean-front street, so that the beaches and scenic points are unobstructed. Plans for the one private residential parcel on the waterside of the street about one half mile north of Asilomar State Beach were the center of local controversy several years ago.
Pacific Grove is located at (36.619065, -121.921025). That places it on the Pacific Ocean between Monterey and Pebble Beach, about 40 miles south of Santa Cruz and about 100 miles south of San Francisco. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.0 square miles (10.4 km²). 2.9 square miles (7.4 km²) of it is land and 1.1 square miles (3.0 km²) of it (28.43%) is water. Asilomar, Lovers Point and the intervening coastline afford surfing, which is challenging due to near shore rocks, albeit waves are typically moderate in height.
There were 7,316 households out of which 21.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.7% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.7% were non-families. 36.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.10 and the average family size was 2.75. The age distribution is: 17.8% under the age of 18, 5.7% from 18 to 24, 27.0% from 25 to 44, 29.9% from 45 to 64, and 19.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 85.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $50,254, and the median income for a family was $59,569. Males had a median income of $43,897 versus $35,924 for females. The per capita income for the city was $31,277. About 3.0% of families and 5.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.6% of those under age 18 and 3.9% of those age 65 or over.
Local radio stations include KAZU-FM - 90.3 . Television service for the community comes from the Monterey-Salinas-Santa Cruz designated market area (DMA). Local newspapers include the Monterey County Herald.