Part 2: A Condensed Timeline of Historic Honolulu
A Condensed Timeline of
Note: Many events in this section are specified in greater detail in the O‘ahu section (Chapter 2) and in Chapter 11, Part 1: Complete Timeline of Hawaiian History. Information about Honolulu is presented here in condensed form for ease of reading about the history of the Honolulu area.
In February of 1793, the British trading ship Butterworth, under the command of William Brown, became the first foreign vessel to enter Honolulu Harbor. At that time the harbor was known by the Hawaiian name Māmala, after a shark woman said to reside there.
On December 12, 1794, Brown and another captain, John Kendrick (c.1740—1794), helped the Hawai‘i Island chief Kalanikūpule defeat Kā‘eokūlani [Kā‘eo], chief of Kaua‘i, Maui, Lāna‘i, Moloka‘i and Kaua‘i. The battle took place near Pearl Harbor, then known by the Hawaiian name of Pu‘uloa (“Long hill”).
A victory salute after the battle was accidentally loaded with grapeshot, and it hit the Lady Washington and killed its captain, John Kendrick, and several of his officers. Later, both Gordon and Brown were killed by the warriors of Kalanikūpule, who were attempting to take over their ships.
In 1795, after spending more than a decade preparing for war, the rising warrior Kamehameha invaded O‘ahu in an attempt to defeat the forces of Kalanikūpule (the ruler of O‘ahu as the heir of Kahekilinui‘ahumanu [Kahekili]). Kamehameha had an estimated 960 canoes (estimates vary) as well as 20 armed foreign ships (20 to 40 ton vessels).
Kamehameha’s troops totaled about 16,000 soldiers (estimates vary widely), many trained in modern musketry. Also allied with Kamehameha were 16 foreigners, including Isaac Davis [‘Aikake] and John Young (I) [‘Olohana] (c.1749—1835), who were in charge of cannons.
Kamehameha’s troops landed on O‘ahu’s south shore from Waikīkī to Wai’alae, and then spent the next several days preparing to meet the forces of O‘ahu’s chief Kalanikūpule. The army of Kalanikūpule, had about 9,000 warriors (estimates vary).
O‘ahu’s forces were gradually overpowered and retreated up into the Nu‘uanu Valley, where many of the fleeing warriors climbed the valley’s sides and escaped over the valley’s ridges, or made it down the trail at the end of the pali (cliff).
Other forces of O‘ahu were confronted by Kamehameha’s soldiers at the head of the valley, at Nu‘uanu Pali, where many O‘ahu soldiers were either forced off the cliffs or jumped rather than surrender to the forces of Kamehameha.
The number of warriors that met their death in this manner remains speculative, with estimates ranging from 300 to more than 2,000. Overall, it is estimated that as many as 10,000 warriors (from both sides) died in the Battle of Nu‘uanu, making the confrontation the deadliest event ever in Hawaiian Islands, including Pearl Harbor.
The Battle of Nu‘uana was Kamehameha’s final conquest. With this victory, Kamehameha gained control of all of the Hawaiian Islands with the exception of Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau, furthering his attempt to establish a united Hawaiian kingdom.
Kamehameha initially ruled from Kawaihae on the island of Hawai‘i and then from Hilo. In 1803, Kamehameha moved his capital from Hilo to Lahaina, and then in 1804, the center of government was moved to Honolulu, which had the best available port.
Kamehameha continued planning to attack Kaua‘i, but sickness among his troops delayed the attack (for the second time). In a renewed effort for a large-scale attack, Kamehameha began assembling an armada of sailing ships in Waikīkī, using foreigners to construct the vessels.
These plans of invasion became unnecessary in 1810 when Kaua‘i’s ruler, Kaumuali‘i, ceded the island of Kaua‘i to King Kamehameha who then declared Hawaiian Islands to be one nation.
In 1820, the Nantucket whaling ship Maro, under the command of Joseph Allen, became the first whaling ship to enter Honolulu Harbor. Allen later discovered rich whaling waters off Japan.
After the bountiful sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) grounds were discovered near Japan, Hawaiian Islands quickly developed into a major staging area for ships going to and from the newly discovered whaling grounds. The main Hawaiian ports for the whaling ships were located in Honolulu and Lahaina, and many native Hawaiians were recruited to work on the ships.
Under the command of Andrew Blanchard, the brig Thaddeus sailed from Boston for Hawaiian Islands (then known as the Sandwich Islands) on August 23, 1819, carrying the First Company of American missionaries. On September 15, 1821, a Christian Meeting House known as Hale Pule was dedicated in Honolulu. Located at the site today is the historic Kawaiaha‘o Church (see below).
Built just adjacent to Hale Pule was Hale Lā‘au, also called the Frame House, a two-story prefabricated structure that the missionaries brought with them around Cape Horn. The Frame House served as a residence for different missionaries, including Hiram Bingham (1789—1869), Gerrit Parmele Judd (1803—1873), and Elisha Loomis (1799—1836) (the printer).
On January 7, 1822, Elisha Loomis completed the first printing in the North Pacific region, using a second hand Ramage press brought to Hawaiian Islands on the Thaddeus with the First Company of American missionaries in 1820.
The printing was done in a grass-roofed hut in Honolulu at the site that is now Kawaiaha‘o Church. This was the beginning of the Mission Press, which eventually printed millions of pages, many in the Hawaiian language. The Hale Pa‘i, or Printing Office, was constructed in 1823 using coral blocks.
By 1825, about 6,000 Hawaiians lived in the village of Honolulu, along with about 300 foreigners. The first Catholic chapel in Hawaiian Islands opened in Honolulu in 1828.
Hui aku na maka i Kou.
The faces will meet in Kou.
We will all meet there. Kou (now central Honolulu) was the place where the chiefs played games, and people came from
everywhere to watch.
In 1832, Honolulu merchant Henry A. Peirce (1808-1885) outfitted the Denmark Hill, which was captained by G.W. Cole and became the first whaling ship to sail under the Hawaiian flag.
In 1832, a total of 198 whaling ships stopped in Hawaiian ports, including 118 ships in Honolulu and 80 in Lahaina.
In 1837, construction began on Kawaiaha‘o Church (originally known as Stone Church, and renamed Kawaiaha‘o Church in 1862) in Honolulu at the corner of South King and Punchbowl Streets. Kawaiaha‘o Church was dedicated on July 21, 1842.
The church was built following plans drawn by missionary Reverend Hiram Bingham. The cornerstone the church was laid on June 8, 1839, and the church was built in the New England style with Gothic influences.
Presiding over the dedication on July 21, 1842 was Reverend Richard Armstrong (Bingham had left due to poor health). The historic and still functioning Kawaiaha‘o Church is O‘ahu’s oldest church and largest church. The original grass-thatched church on the site was built to hold 300 people and dedicated in 1821. (See above.)
More than 1,000 people worked on the construction of the large, new Kawaiaha‘o Church from 1837 to 1842, using blunt axes to cut coral reef from beneath 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 m) of water. Approximately 14,000 coral blocks were cut from the reef for the church.
Located just inside the main entrance gate to Kawaiaha‘o Church is the Tomb of King Lunalilo, a substantial memorial that is one of the first cement-block structures in the Islands. Many of early missionaries of the Hawaiian Islands are buried in a cemetery behind Kawaiaha‘o Church.
In 1841, Punahou School for missionary children and chiefs’ children is established by Hiram Bingham (1789—1869), who came to the Hawaiian Islands on the Thaddeus in 1820 with the First Company of American missionaries, Amos Starr Cooke (1810—1871), who came to the Hawaiian Islands in 1837 with the Eighth Company of American missionaries, and Reverend and Mrs. Daniel Dole.
In 1843, the school is designated Punahou School and Oahu [O‘ahu] College. (See 1839.) The school was originally known as Ka-puna-hou (“The new spring”) referring to an ancient legend.
On February 10, 1843, Lord George Paulet of Britain arrived in the Hawaiian Islands on the frigate Carysfort. Using the threat of military might, Paulet demanded a formal “provisional cession” of the Hawaiian Islands to Britain. King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) acquiesced, and the British flag was raised in Honolulu.
On July 31, 1843, the provisional cession of the Hawaiian Islands to Britain was rescinded by Admiral Richard Thomas (1777-1851) of Britain, who restored control of the Hawaiian Islands to King Kamehameha III. The British flag was lowered and the Hawaiian flag was raised.
Later that day, the king gave a speech at a Kawaiaha‘o Church service, and is said to have spoken the words which later became Hawai‘i’s official state motto: “Ua mau ke ea o ka ‘āina o ka pono” (“The life of the land is perpetuated [preserved] in righteousness”). The date of July 31 was later proclaimed Restoration Day.
In 1847, Washington Place was built in Honolulu by sea captain and merchant John Dominis, who was the father of John Owen Dominis (husband of Queen Lili‘uokalani [Lydia Kamaka‘eha Pākī-Dominis Lili‘uokalani]), who inherited Washington Place and lived there until Queen Lili‘uokalani died in 1917.
In 1847, the Thespian Theater opened in Honolulu, becoming the city’s first theater.
In 1851, a total of 220 whaling ships stopped at Hawaiian ports, including 90 in Honolulu, 103 in Lahaina, and 27 at other ports. The year of 1852 was a peak year for ship arrivals at Hawaiian ports, with a total of 519 whaling ships and 235 merchant ships arriving, as well as four national ships, totaling 758 ship arrivals.
In 1852, the Honolulu Courthouse was built on Queen Street near the old Honolulu Fort. A year later a second story was added. The Supreme Court met in the building, as did Hawai‘i’s Legislature. Built using coral blocks, the Honolulu Courthouse was one of the largest buildings in Honolulu, and was also the site of many social events, including banquets, musical performances, church services, and official ceremonies.
On November 8, 1852, the death of imprisoned whaler Henry Burns incited a riot by thousands of sailors, who set fire to the Honolulu police station. In 1852, on Merchant Street in Honolulu, the Melcher’s Building was constructed of coral blocks, and remains standing today as Honolulu’s oldest commercial structure.
In 1858, Charles Reed Bishop founded the firm Aldrich & Bishop, which later became Bank of Bishop & Co. Ltd, and is known today as the First Hawaiian Bank. In 1859, gasoline lamp streetlights were installed on Honolulu’s streets.
On July 17, 1860, Queen’s Hospital was constructed in Honolulu at the corner of Punchbowl and Beretania streets. The hospital was originally established in the late 1850s by Queen Emma [Emma Na‘ea Rooke; Kalanikaumakeamano; Kaleleonālani] and her husband, King Kamehameha IV (Alexander Liholiho ‘Iolani) to help Hawaiians.
On March 8, 1861, the first operatic performance in the Hawaiian Islands was given at the Royal Hawaiian Theater in Honolulu. In 1868, horse-drawn carts operated by the Pioneer Omnibus Line went into operation in Honolulu, beginning the first public transit service in the Hawaiian Islands.
In 1870, the medieval looking ‘Iolani Barracks opened (construction began in 1866) in downtown Honolulu at Richards and Beretania Streets, at the site where the State Capitol building is today. In 1965, the ‘Iolani Barracks structure was moved stone by stone to its present location on the grounds of ‘Iolani Palace, to make way for the State Capitol.
In 1871, the Honolulu Skating Rink, operated by Williams & Wallace, opened on Hotel Street in Buffum’s Hall. That same year, the Kamehameha V Post Office Building, designed by architect J.G. Osborne, was constructed on Merchant and Bethel Streets in downtown Honolulu.
Built in the Renaissance Revival style, the structure became the main Honolulu Post Office until 1922. Now occupied by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, the structure remains today as America’s oldest reinforced concrete building
On June 11, 1872, the Royal Hawaiian Band gave its first concert under the lead of Henry Berger (1844-1929). Berger held the post for 43 years and gave over 9,000 concerts, including several United States Mainland tours with the band, helping to increase the popularity of Hawaiian music.
A royal proclamation in 1872 began the recognition of what was then known as Commemoration Day, and later called King Kamehameha Day (now celebrated every June 11). On this day the King Kamehameha statue in front of Ali‘iōlani Hale in Honolulu is draped with many different leis, some more than 26 feet (8 m) long. On October 19, 1872, an electric telegraph was put into operation in Honolulu.
On February 12, 1874, David La‘amea Kalākaua was elected king. The tally of the votes in the legislative election was 39-6. After the results were announced, the Honolulu Courthouse was attacked and ransacked, legislators were beaten, and one delegate was thrown out a window. Native Hawaiians that voted for Kalākaua were particularly targeted.
Many native Hawaiians were devoted to Queen Emma [Emma Na‘ea Rooke; Kalanikaumakeamano; Kaleleonālani], who had also put forth her claim to the throne. The violence left many injured and one person dead. American and British warships provided armed marines to restore order.
In 1874, construction was completed on Ali‘iōlani Hale, a judiciary building in Honolulu built using concrete blocks. The building housed the Supreme Court, and later the Legislature.
On September 9, 1874, the Hawaiian National Museum was established in Ali‘iōlani Hale. The Museum opened on November 8, 1875, with a collection that included many artifacts donated by Hawaiian royalty.
Charles Reed Bishop, the husband of Princess Pauahi [Bernice Pauahi Pākī Bishop], was the museum’s first supervisor. On December 8, 1874, from the second floor of Ali‘iōlani Hale, scientists observed the Transit of Venus and gathered valuable astronomical information in conjunction with a British astronomical team.
In 1877, King Kalākaua [David La‘amea Kalākaua] dedicated Kapi‘olani Park on the far eastern (Diamond Head) side of Waikīkī. The park was named in honor of his wife, Queen Kapi‘olani, and was used for band concerts, polo games, horse races, and in later years, car races.
Today the park is the site of sporting events, and also is home to the Kapi‘olani Bandstand, the Waikīkī Shell, and the Honolulu Zoo.
In 1878, the East Maui Telegraph Company (under Charles H. Dickey) installed the first telephone line in the Hawaiian Islands between Wailuku, Maui and Kahului. Alexander Graham had patented the telephone two years earlier, in 1876.
In 1878, the Bank of Bishop & Company Building, designed by architect Thomas J. Baker, was constructed on Merchant Street in Honolulu. Today the building is the only remaining Northern Italian Renaissance Revival style building still standing in Honolulu.
In 1879, the Hawai‘i State Library opened on King Street in Honolulu. The building was designed by Henry D. Whitfield, brother-in-law of the donor, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. (Two wings to expand the library were built in 1930, creating the open-air center courtyard.)
On July 1, 1879, the first artesian well in the Hawaiian Islands was bored by James Campbell (1826-1900) near his ranch in Honouliuli, O‘ahu. Soon other wells were bored, allowing the cultivation of sugarcane on thousands of acres of ‘Ewa, O‘ahu.
On December 31, 1879, in midtown Honolulu, the cornerstone was laid for ‘Iolani Palace, a project of King Kalākaua [David La‘amea Kalākaua]. In 1880, a Catholic boy’s high school, St. Louis College, was established in Honolulu, and was later supplemented by Chaminade College (now Chaminade University).
On December 30, 1880, the Hawaiian Bell Telephone Company was incorporated, organized by Charles O. Berger. A telephone was installed in ‘Iolani Palace soon after it was completed.
In 1881, the Music Hall Theater was founded in Honolulu on King Street, across from ‘Iolani Palace, but soon closed due to a smallpox epidemic, and then reopened as the Royal Opera House in 1883.
On February 12, 1883, King Kalākaua had an official coronation on the grounds of the newly completed ‘Iolani Palace in Honolulu. The coronation marked the beginning of King Kalākaua’s support of traditional Hawaiian practices, including the revival of hula. As part of the ceremony, a statue of King Kamehameha I was unveiled across the street from ‘Iolani Palace in front of Ali‘iōlani Hale.
On July 21, 1886, electric lights were installed at ‘Iolani Palace. Five lamps in all were installed, including one at the Palace, one at the gate to the Palace on Richards Street, two on King Street, and one at the Government Building.
Within two years Honolulu’s streetlights, which were formerly gasoline lamps, were also replaced with electric lights. In November, 1886, King Kalākaua’s 50th birthday jubilee was held at ‘Iolani Palace.
In 1887, King Kalākaua signed a lease of Pearl Harbor to the United States for eight years. This action resulted in the Reciprocity Treaty. Also in 1887, the Kamehameha School for Boys opened in Honolulu under the terms of the will of benefactor Princess Pauahi [Bernice Pauahi Pākī Bishop].
On December 28, 1888, a mule-drawn tram became the first streetcar in Honolulu. The mule-car service was offered by Hawaiian Tramways, Ltd., which was taken over in 1900 by the Honolulu Rapid Transit & Land Co. (HRT).
On July 30, 1889, Robert W. Wilcox (who is part Hawaiian) led about 150 armed insurgents in a revolt against King Kalākaua. At 6 a.m. the men marched to Ali‘iōlani Hale, the government building in Honolulu, and took over the building as well as the grounds of ‘Iolani Palace.
The rebels opposed reform measures instituted in 1887, and wanted the king to proclaim a new constitution. King Kalākaua [David La‘amea Kalākaua] refused and shots were exchanged between Wilcox’s men and government forces, who placed sharpshooters in the tower of Kawaiaha‘o Church and surrounding buildings.
Bombs made with dynamite were thrown into the grounds of ‘Iolani Palace, scattering the rebels. Seven insurgents were killed and 12 more wounded.
Also in 1889, Charles Reed Bishop founded the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu in honor of his wife, Princess Pauahi [Bernice Pauahi Pākī Bishop] (1831—1884), a Hawaiian princess and great-granddaughter of King Kamehameha I.
When Princess Bernice Pauahi Pākī Bishop died, her estate included an extensive collection of royal family heirlooms and historic artifacts of the Kamehameha era. Bishop Museum was founded to preserve and showcase the possessions of Princess Pauahi and the late Queen Emma [Emma Na‘ea Rooke; Kalanikaumakeamano; Kaleleonālani] (1836-1885), and to provide enjoyment and education for the Hawaiian people.
In 1889, the first train ran on the O‘ahu Railroad, and in 1890, the O‘ahu Railway and Land Company was formed. In 1891, the Hawaiian Electric Company began servicing island residents.
King Kalākaua died in on January 20, 1889 in San Francisco, California, and on January 29, 1891, his sister came to the throne as Queen Lili‘uokalani [Lydia Kamaka‘eha Pākī-Dominis Lili‘uokalani].
In January of 1893, an insurrection against Queen Lili‘uokalani was led by a small group of United States sugar planters and pro-annexation businessmen who deposed the queen, abrogated the monarchy, and declared a Provisional Government with the goal of annexation by the United States.
The insurrection was backed by 162 United States marines from the U.S.S. Boston. The previous 98 years of rule of the Hawaiian Islands under eight different monarchs was effectively ended.
The events of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy remain the subject of intense historical debate. A brief overview is given here because Honolulu was the center of activity, but the events are explained in more detail in the Complete Timeline of Hawaiian History (Chapter 11).
On January 16, 1893, troops from the U.S.S. Boston marched down King Street past Ali‘iōlani Hale and ‘Iolani Palace to Arion Hall, across from ‘Iolani Palace. Meanwhile, a newly formed group called the Committee of Public Safety met to further their plans for a Provisional Government.
On January 17, 1893, Queen Lili‘uokalani requested assistance from U.S. Minister to Hawai‘i John Leavitt Stevens, but Stevens refused. The Honolulu Rifles, an armed volunteer group, assembled in Ali‘iōlani Hale in opposition to the loyalist guard across the street at ‘Iolani Palace.
At 2:30 p.m., on the rear veranda of Ali‘iōlani Hale, a Provisional Government was proclaimed by members of the Committee of Public Safety, which included Sanford Dole, the first president. U.S. Minister Stevens recognized the Provisional Government as the lawful government of the Hawaiian Islands.
That evening, about 100 armed men gathered around Ali‘iōlani Palace in support of the annexationists. Guards were posted around Ali‘iōlani Hale (the new headquarters of the Provisional Government), and drills were held on King Street in front of ‘Iolani Palace. Martial law was declared, and troops from the U.S.S. Boston remained nearby.
On February 1, 1893, the United States Minister to Hawai‘i, John Leavitt Stevens, who favored annexation and recognized the new Provisional Government, raised the United States flag over the Hawaiian Islands. Troops from the U.S.S. Boston took over as official guards of Ali‘iōlani Hale, the center of the Provisional Government.
On March 4, 1893, Grover Cleveland succeeded Benjamin Harrison as President of the United States. Cleveland was a Democrat, replacing the pro-annexation administration of Harrison, a Republican.
On March 29, 1893, James H. Blount arrived in the Hawaiian Islands, by order of the President, to investigate the events leading to the overthrow of the Hawaiian government. Blount gave orders for the American flag to be taken down and the Hawaiian flag raised, and the United States naval forces were sent back to their ships.
In June of 1893, Sanford Ballard Dole, the president of the Provisional Government, ordered that the government’s executive departments be moved to ‘Iolani Palace, with the garrison occupying the adjacent barracks.
The Palace location was thought to be better defensively in the case of an attack. The Provisional Government also passed a resolution renaming ‘Iolani Palace the “Executive Building,” and renaming Ali‘iōlani Hale the “Court House” (though it was commonly called the Judiciary Building.)
On October 18, 1893, the Blount Report was given to President Cleveland. The report blamed the overthrow of the monarchy on United States Minister to Hawai‘i John Leavitt Stevens, and suggested restoring the Hawaiian government. President Cleveland denounced the overthrow as lawless because it was achieved under “false pretexts.”
By November 4, 1893, orders were given by President Cleveland to restore the power of Queen Lili‘uokalani. President Cleveland also sent word that he regretted the “unauthorized intervention” that had taken away the queen’s sovereignty.
The Provisional Government refused to restore Queen Lili‘uokalani to the throne, saying that only armed conflict would force them to give up power. President Cleveland did not support annexation, but was reluctant to order the use of force against the group of Americans and their supporters, who were mostly Americans.
In May of 1894, the Provisional Government called a constitutional convention to draft the constitution of the “Republic of Hawai‘i.” In the courtroom of the Supreme Court at Ali‘iōlani Hale, nineteen delegates appointed by the Provisional Government along with 18 elected delegates wrote the new constitution.
On January 6, 1895, a small group of royalists, mostly native Hawaiians in support Queen Lili‘uokalani, attempted a counter-revolution to overthrow the Republic and restore the queen. The uprising apparently took place without any participation by Queen Lili‘uokalani, who denied any involvement. Hundreds of men were arrested.
On January 7, 1895, martial law was declared and a military commission was appointed to court-martial Queen Lili‘uokalani and others. On January 16, 1895, Queen Lili‘uokalani was imprisoned in ‘Iolani Palace.
On January 24 the queen signed a formal abdication, which called for the recognition of the Republic of Hawai‘i as the lawful government. Queen Lili‘uokalani later claimed that this abdication was invalid due to coercion, and that she signed the document only to spare the lives of her supporters.
On February 5, 1895, Queen Lili‘uokalani was arraigned before the military commission for treason, a charge that was later changed to misprision of treason, which involves knowing of treason (the attempted counter-revolution) but not disclosing it.
On February 27, 1895, Queen Lili‘uokalani was found guilty of misprision of treason and sentenced to a fine of $5,000 and imprisonment with hard labor for five years. This sentence was not carried out, though Lili‘uokalani remained imprisoned in ‘Iolani Palace for seven months.
On March 19, 1895, martial law in the Hawaiian Islands was ended. In all, 37 people had been found guilty of treason and open rebellion, 141 guilty of treason, and 12 guilty of misprision. Twenty-two people were exiled to the United States.
Lili‘uokalani was released from confinement on September 6, 1895, and then was confined to Washington Place until February 6, 1896, and then island-restricted until October 6, 1896. Lili‘uokalani’s freedom was restricted for 21 months in all, from Jan. 16, 1895 until October 6 1896.
In 1896, the Bishop Estate Building was constructed on Merchant Street in Honolulu. The architects of the buildings were Ripley & Dickey, and the structure was built in the Romanesque Revival style, using blue stone.
In 1898, the Hawaiian Islands were annexed to the United States. The official transfer of power from the Republic of Hawai‘i to the United States took place on August 12, 1898, and the Hawaiian flag was taken down at ‘Iolani Palace and replaced with the United States flag, which was raised over the Territory of Hawai‘i.
Sanford B. Dole became the first governor of the Territory of Hawai‘i. Also in 1898, a tent encampment of United States infantry and engineers was set up at Waikīkī’s Kapi‘olani Park, and known as Camp McKinley.
In 1899, the Judd Building, designed by architect Oliver Green Traphagen, was constructed on Fort Street in Honolulu. The building was originally four stories tall, and later a fifth floor was added. Also in 1899, the bubonic plague swept through Honolulu.
On January 20, 1900, a fire in the Chinatown area of Honolulu burned 38 acres (15 ha), displacing more than 4,000 residents. The fire was intentionally set to rid the area of the plague, but accidentally got out of control.
In November of 1900, an electric trolley (tram line) was put into operation in Honolulu, and then in 1902, a tram line was built to connect Waikīkī and downtown Honolulu. The electric trolley replaced the horse-mule-driven tram cars.
The hotel and tram line construction began the process of popularizing Waikīkī as a resort destination, and was also the impetus for building the Ala Wai Canal to drain the wetlands.
In 1901, the Moana Hotel opened in Waikīkī. Known as the “First Lady of Waikīkī,” the 75-room, 4-story hotel was the tallest building in the Hawaiian Islands. 1901—Lē‘ahi Hospital is opened in Honolulu to treat victims of tuberculosis.
On December 4, 1901, the Hawaiian Pineapple Company was formed by James Drummond Dole (1877-1958), with the first harvest occurring in 1903. Also in 1901, the six-story Stangenwald Building was constructed in on Merchant Street in Honolulu. Designed by architects Ripley & Dickey, the building was considered the first “skyscraper” in the Hawaiian Islands and noted for its Italian Renaissance elements.
In 1904, the Waikīkī Aquarium was opened on the shoreline at the far eastern (Diamond Head) side of Waikīkī. It remains operating today as the United States’ third oldest public aquarium and the oldest aquarium west of the Mississippi River.
In 1905, Duke Kahanamoku surfed Waikīkī, beginning the rebirth of Hawaiian surfing. Duke Kahanamoku grew up in the Kālia area of Waikīkī.
In 1905, the Hawai‘i State Archives building was established in Honolulu to preserve important historical photographs and documents, including private papers, records, and manuscripts, maps and books. In 1959 it was given the name Kekāuluohi Building. The building was named after Kekāuluohi [Miriam ‘Auhea] (1794-1845), who was the mother of King Lunalilo, and also Kuhina Nui (Premier) of the Hawaiian Kingdom from 1839-1845, during the reign of King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli).
In 1906, James Drummond Dole (1877-1958) and his Hawaiian Pineapple Company constructed a cannery on O‘ahu in the Iwilei district. At the time it was the largest fruit factory in the world.
In 1906, the Old Archives building was constructed in downtown Honolulu, becoming the United States’ first building constructed for the sole purpose of preserving public archive materials. The architect of the building was Oliver Green Traphagen.
In 1959, the building was given the name Kana‘ina Building, in honor of Charles Kana‘ina (c.1801-1877), the father of King Lunalilo.
In 1907, Senator William Joseph Coelho introduced a resolution in the legislature that eventually led to the establishment of the College of Hawai‘i, which later became the University of Hawai‘i.
Also in 1907, the Outrigger Canoe Club was established in Waikīkī. In 1908, the City and County of Honolulu was formed. Favorable trade agreements allowed pineapple and sugar plantations to thrive. Also in 1908, construction of naval facilities began in Pearl Harbor.
From 1908 to 1915, six coastal artillery battery defenses were constructed on O‘ahu, including Battery Randolph in Waikīkī (now known as the U.S. Army Museum of Hawai‘i).
Construction also began on Fort Ruger at the edge of the Diamond Head crater. A network of tunnels was carved into the mountain, and cannon emplacements were placed atop the crater rim, along with observation posts and bunkers. The Fort was reinforced during World War II, though the guns were never fired.
In 1909, Fort Kamehameha military reservation was established at the entrance to Pearl Harbor.
The Sacred Hearts Academy, a school for Catholic girls, opened in Honolulu in September of 1909. In 1911, Duke Kahanamoku and friends organized Hui Nalu (Club of the Waves).
Also in 1911, Ali‘iōlani Hale, the Judiciary Building in Honolulu, underwent reconstruction. The building was in disrepair due to termite damage, and was set on fire so only the exterior walls remained.
Architects Ripley and Reynolds designed the new floor plan, which still exists today. The new design included a rotunda and double staircase, along with steel beams to reinforce the structure.
In 1914, the Honolulu Zoo opened in Waikīkī. On February 4, 1916, in Honolulu Harbor, the crews of seven interned steamships (including the German cruiser Geier) set their vessels on fire to prevent them from being used by the United States. The United States was still officially neutral in the war (which began in Europe in 1914). On April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany.
In 1918, the first inter-island flight was completed by Major Harold M. Clark, who flew from Honolulu to Moloka‘i and back.
In 1921, Honolulu’s Washington Place, the former home of Queen Lili‘uokalani, was purchased by the Territory of Hawai‘i for use as a governor’s mansion. In 1922, the Federal Building was completed in downtown Honolulu to house federal agencies.
In 1926, Aloha Tower opened on the waterfront at Honolulu Harbor, becoming the tallest building in the Hawaiian Islands. Designed by architect Arthur Reynolds, the tower stands 184 feet (56 m) high, and is topped with a 40-foot (12-m) flagstaff and a 7-ton (6.4-mton) clock.
In 1927, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel (nicknamed the “Pink Palace”) opened in Waikīkī, beginning the restructuring of Waikīkī’s coastline and increasing Waikiki‘s reputation as an exotic playground for the rich and famous.
In 1927, the Honolulu Academy of Arts, a museum, library and educational facility, was built on the site of the former home of Mrs. Charles Montague Cooke, whose art objects formed the basis of the museum’s collection.
Honolulu Hale, Honolulu’s City Hall, was built in 1927 at South King and Punchbowl Streets to provide offices for the mayor and city council. Designed by architects Charles William Dickey (1871—1942), Hart Wood (1880—1957), and others, the building has pillars and arches, decorative balconies, ceiling frescoes, and a tiled roof. Honolulu Hale was modeled after Florence, Italy’s Bargello Palace, which was built in the 13th century.
In 1927, the War Memorial Natatorium was built on the waterfront at the eastern end of Waikīkī. The memorial includes a 20-foot (6.1-m) high Memorial Archway with a Beaux Arts facade and a 100-meter-long, tide-fed, saltwater pool. Champion swimmers such as Duke Kahanamoku and Johnny Weissmuller used the War Memorial Natatorium pool for training.
[Note: The pool remains today as the largest saltwater pool in the United States, though it is in serious disrepair. A court order in 1999 allowed the City of Honolulu to proceed with an $11 million restoration project that disallowed work on the pool itself until state rules were met.
In May of 2004, a section of the pool’s deck collapsed, and the rest of the structure was determined to be at risk of collapsing unless the sea walls and pool deck were shored up and stabilized.
Scheduled restoration work was cancelled by Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann on January 3, 2005, his first day in office. The Memorial is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.]
Also in 1927, St Francis Hospital is established in Honolulu. In 1929, the Gump Building, designed by architect Hart Wood (1880—1957), opened in Waikīkī. The building’s purpose was to house the art treasures of the Gump collection.
In 1930, Mary Foster (1844-1930) willed six acres (2.4 ha) at Nu‘uanu Avenue and Vineyard Boulevard in downtown Honolulu for a city park and botanical garden, now called Foster Botanical Garden. The garden was originally planted by William Hillebrand (1821-1886), a Prussian doctor who arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in 1851 (see Chapter 11, Timeline: 1851; 1890) and became a royal physician working at Queen’s Hospital.
On November 1, 1933, the last electric trolley runs in Honolulu, and buses begin operating. In 1934, Duke Kahanamoku was elected Sheriff of the City and County of Honolulu. He would serve in that capacity for a total of 26 years, from 1934 to 1960.
In 1936, Pan American World Airways flew a Martin M-130 flying boat called the Hawai‘i Clipper from San Francisco to Honolulu with seven paying customers. The cost was $360 one-way, and the flight took 21 hours and 33 minutes.
Pan American’s flights brought a visit to the Hawaiian Islands three days closer for the average traveler, inaugurating the first Pacific route to the Hawaiian Islands. Pan American soon ran 12 flights daily in and out of Honolulu.
On December 7, 1941, at 7:55 a.m., over 350 Japanese bomber planes attacked Pearl Harbor, bringing the United States into World War II. Deaths of military personnel totaled 2,323 people, and 60 civilians were also killed in the attack. Another 1,178 people were wounded.
Eight huge battleships were sunk or damaged, along with three light cruisers, three destroyers, and four smaller ships. Twenty-one United States ships were damaged, as well as 347 planes. 1,177 men perished in the fiery sinking of the U.S.S. Arizona, which was at its moorings on Battleship Row, and sunk in just nine minutes after being hit by a bomb. Nine hundred of the Arizona’s crew remain entombed in the sunken vessel. United States anti-aircraft guns responded to the warplanes 15 minutes after the start of the bombing, and 29 Japanese planes were destroyed.
Martial law was declared at 4:30 p.m. on December 7, 1941, making the Hawaiian Islands the only state or territory in the United States ever forced to operate under martial law, which lasted until 1944. Many Japanese were arrested and interned under suspicion of espionage or sabotage, though none were ever found guilty.
Martial Law imposed many restrictions on residents, including enforced blackouts (6 p.m. to 6 a.m.) with blackout wardens patrolling neighborhoods. On March 2, 1942, a lone Japanese plane bombed Honolulu. Throughout the Hawaiian Islands there was a general fear of being attacked by Japan.
In 1954, proponents of statehood gather 150,000 signatures on a petition for statehood written on a roll of blank newsprint about 3 miles (5 km) long on Honolulu’s Bishop Street.
In 1959, Hawai‘i was admitted to the United States as the 50th State. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy spoke in Honolulu at a meeting of the National Conference of Mayors.
In 1964, the Honolulu International Center opened, including a sports arena complex, exhibit hall, and auditorium. In 1976 it was renamed the Blaisdell Center.
In January of 1993, 10,000 pro-sovereignty marchers gathered outside ‘Iolani Palace, the former seat of the Hawaiian monarchy, to observe the Centennial of what they considered the “illegal” American overthrow of the monarchy.
Governor John Waihee ordered the American flag lowered while the Hawaiian flag flew above. On July 1, 1998, the Hawai‘i Convention Center opened in Honolulu.