The Native Rumsien people lived here for thousands of years before Euro-Americans landed on Monterey's shores. Although we know very little about the First People who settled in what is now Monterey, we do know what drew them here. It was the abundance of fish and wildlife and other natural resources. The mild weather of the Central Coast, along with the bounty of the bay made this area an important part of the Rumsien life. Several of their village sites have been identified within the confines of Monterey.
Spanish explorer Juan Rodríquez Cabrillo is credited as the first Euro-American to see the bay on November 17, 1542, which he named La Bahia de los Pinos (Bay of Pines). Sixty years later, in December 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno became the first European to set foot on the shores of the bay which he officially renamed "Monte Rey Bay", in honor of the Viceroy of New Spain who had ordered his expedition. Under a large oak tree overlooking the bay, near what is now Artillery and Pacific Streets, he and his crew of 200 celebrated mass in honor of their safe journey.