Doc Rickett's Pacific Biological Laboratories, Monterey

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#6 of 8 in Historic Sites in Monterey
Historic Site · Tourist Spot
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Pacific Biological Laboratories, abbreviated PBL, was a biological supply house that sold preserved animals and prepared specimen microscope slides, many of which were of maritime aquatic species, to schools, museums, and research institutions. It was located in a building on what is now Monterey's Cannery Row on Monterey Bay in Monterey County, California.The building, activities, and business were fictionalized as "Western Biological Laboratory" by John Steinbeck in his novel Cannery Row, as was a character based on one of its founders, Ed Ricketts.HistoryThe company was started by Ed Ricketts with his college roommate and business partner Albert Galigher in 1923. Originally located in Pacific Grove at 165 Fountain Avenue, the lab was moved to 740 Ocean View Avenue, Monterey, California around January, 1930, where Ricketts became sole owner. Today, that location is 800 Cannery Row. After Ricketts developed marital problems with his first wife Anna, the lab served as Ricketts's home for some time beginning in 1936.On November 25, 1936, a fire broke out at the Del Mar Cannery next to the lab (site of today's Monterey Bay Aquarium) and most of the contents of the laboratory were destroyed. The manuscript for Between Pacific Tides survived the fire as it had already been sent to Stanford University for publication. It was Steinbeck that saved the lab financially after the fire with the purchase of half the company's stock.
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  • As a marine biology student at Stanford in the 1950's, I came with classes, to Hopkins Marine Station, and visited what was left of Doc Rickett's legacy on The Row. We all had copies of his seminal... 
    As a marine biology student at Stanford in the 1950's, I came with classes, to Hopkins Marine Station, and visited what was left of Doc Rickett's legacy on The Row. We all had copies of his seminal...  more »
  • Growing up reading Steinbeck, I thought that Doc (Ed) Ricketts was a fictional character... I learned otherwise. Ed Ricketts was the grandfather of modern Marine Biology, and he was a real character.....  more
    Growing up reading Steinbeck, I thought that Doc (Ed) Ricketts was a fictional character... I learned otherwise. Ed Ricketts was the grandfather of modern Marine Biology, and he was a real character.....  more »

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