Flagpole skating was a real thing. Seriously.
According to the Waymarking folks, the old Chinaman is based on a local ghost story. (source)
Lee Chong's Heavenly Flower Grocery was based on an actual grocery in Cannery Row called Wing Chong market. You can still visit today. (But we kind of prefer "Heavenly Flower Grocery.") (source)
You might have noticed that Cannery Row is dedicated to some guy named Ed Ricketts. He was a marine biologist who lived near the water in Monterey, California. Sound familiar? (source)