The City of Monterey in Monterey County is located on the southern edge of Monterey Bay, on Central California's Pacific coast. It stands at an elevation of 26 feet (8 m) above sea level, on a land area of 8.466 sq mi (21.927 km²). The 2010 census recorded a population of 27,810. Monterey was the capital of Alta California under both Spain and Mexico. It was the only port of entry for taxable goods in California. In 1846 the U.S. flag was raised over the Customs House, and California became part of the United States after the ensuing Mexican-American War.
Long before the arrival of Spanish explorers, the Rumsen Ohlone tribe, one of seven linguistically distinct Ohlone groups in California, inhabited the area now known as Monterey. They subsisted by hunting, fishing and gathering food on and around the biologically rich Monterey Peninsula. Researchers have found a number of shell middens in the area and, based on the archaeological evidence, concluded the Ohlone's primary marine food consisted at various times of mussels and abalone. A number of midden sites have been located along about 12 miles (19 km) of rocky coast on the Monterey Peninsula from the current site of Fishermans' Wharf in Monterey to Carmel.