Monterey (mŏntərāˈ) [key], city (1990 pop. 31,954), Monterey co., W Calif., a port on Monterey Bay; founded 1770, inc. 1850. It is a popular resort, the home of many artists and writers, and one of California's oldest cities. An early whaling and fishing center, Monterey now depends on tourism and the revenues and employment derived from nearby military installations. There is also light manufacturing.
The bay was visited by Juan Cabrillo in 1542 and entered and named by Sebastián Vizcaíno in 1602. In 1770 an expedition under Gaspar de Portolá arrived and established a presidio; Junípero Serra remained to found a Franciscan mission. Monterey was the capital of Alta California for many of the years between 1775 and 1846. In 1846 it was taken by a U.S. naval force under Commodore John D. Sloat, and in 1849 the state constitutional convention met there.
California's first theater (1844) and first brick building (1847) still stand, and it was in Monterey that California's first newspaper was established in 1846. The city has museums, the presidio, and an aquarium with an unusual deep-sea exhibit. The Monterey Institute of International Studies, the Naval Postgraduate School, and the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center are there.