Once the center for an industrial sardine-packing operation immortalized by John Steinbeck as "a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream," this area today is a strip congested with tourists, tacky gift shops, overpriced seafood restaurants, and a parking nightmare. What changed it so dramatically? The sardines disappeared in 1948, from overfishing, changing currents, and pollution. Fishermen left, canneries closed, and the Row fell into disrepair. Curious tourists continued to visit the area. Steinbeck himself wrote, after visiting in the 1960s, "The beaches are clean where they once festered with fish guts and flies. The canneries that once put up a sickening stench are gone, their places filled with restaurants, antique shops, and the like. They fish for tourists now, not pilchards, and that species they are not likely to wipe out." I couldn't put it any better.