Honolulu Homes guide

Background

Honolulu Canal

Honolulu is the capital and largest city in “The Aloha State” and is located on the southern coast of Oahu Island. Honolulu means “sheltered bay” or “place of shelter” in the Hawaiian language. Honolulu is the only U.S. state capital (other than Juneau, Alaska) that cannot be reached by road from the continental United States and is also the nation’s 11th largest metropolitan area. Stretching 1,500 miles long, it is the city with the longest borders in the world. The greater Honolulu area has over 800,000 people from all different races and cultures. The city and the Island of Oahu are both known as “The Gathering Place”.

Honolulu is a modern city that is enormously diverse. It is so diverse that no racial or ethnic majorities even exist in Honolulu, or all of Hawaii for that matter. Here, everyone is a minority. Caucasians make up about 34% of the population, Japanese-American about 32%, Filipino-American 16%, and Chinese-American 5%. Most of the population is a mixture of ethnicities, making it difficult to identify a specific race. Nearly all of the people here stay true to the traditions of their homeland. Many Japanese and Chinese Americans in Honolulu/Hawaii are more traditional than people in Japan or China.

The City and County of Honolulu administration is a mayor-council system that oversees all of the civil defense, emergency medical, fire, sanitation, streets, water, parks, recreation, and others. Honolulu boasts one of the largest municipal governments in the entire United States and operates on an annual budget of $1 billion.

The city of Honolulu is where many different ethnic groups live, work, and play among mountains, valleys, beaches, and, skyscrapers. Honolulu is full of friendly people, extreme beauty, and very unique and varied cultures. Honolulu, Hawaii is the land of enchantment, the land of sun and sand, and with all of the different races and ethnicities present, is the melting pot of the Pacific.

Fast Facts


History

Hula and firework

It is not known exactly when Honolulu was first settled; many historians believe it was sometime during the 12th century, but Polynesian migrants were definitely the first to settle on the islands of Hawaii. For centuries they followed a strict social code: kapu and aloha. Kapu kept order among the people while Aloha guaranteed peace and happiness.

Honolulu was one of the last areas in the world to be explored by Europeans. The very first foreigner to sail into the Hawaiian Islands was James Cook in 1778. He bypassed Honolulu and then Captain William Brown came from England in 1794 and explored the Honolulu area. Many more foreign ships followed his lead and made Honolulu’s port a central focal point for merchant ships going between North America and Asia. The port became a center in fur and sandalwood trade routes before whaling became a major industry. Sailors, whalers, and traders came to Honolulu because of the area’s promise of plenty, causing foreigners to compete for the King’s favor. After Kamehameha I overcame O’ahu in the Battle of Nu’uanu Pali he moved his royal court to Waikiki in 1804 then relocated again in 1809 to what is now Honolulu.

Honolulu received strong forces from many different places, one group being American missionaries, who arrived in 1820. The Hawaiian’s were not a problem for the missionaries, as they adapted to the Christian concepts easily. After King Kamehameha I died, his widow even converted to Christianity. During this time the Islanders used Kanaka Maoli, a principle where they shared their land with everyone. This soon turned to the Western ways of single land ownership, which would cause many problems for Hawaii and set the stage for the monarchies downfall.

In 1814, Russian soldiers tried to take over Honolulu and built a fort at the edge of the harbor. Not too long after that the British flag flew over Honolulu in 1843 and then the French in 1849. Even after all of the different countries that tried to establish Honolulu as their own, control was returned to the independent native kingdom and they were recognized as an independent nation once again.

In 1845, Kamehameha III moved the capital of Hawaii from Lahaina on the Maui island to Honolulu. He and other kings in the area turned Honolulu into a modern capital, building structures like the St. Andrew’s Cathedral, and Ali’iolani Hale. Honolulu soon became the center of all commerce for the Hawaiian Islands.

The monarchy became effected negatively by all of the rapid changes. Outsiders brought disease to the island, and with no immunities, the number of native islanders had been greatly reduced. Kamehameha V was in power, and although he attempted to marry the last Kamehameha descendent, Bernice Pauahi, she married a white man (Charles Bishop) instead. She would not take the throne after him and it went to a distant Kamehameha relative who soon died. The royal lineage did not have an heir for the throne and so David Kalakaua was chosen in a rather controversial election.

While David was king he signed the “Bayonet Constitution”, which extended voting rights only to those with high incomes and property levels but denied them to any and all Asians. His signing of this constitution greatly diminished his power, so he built the Iolani Palace where he tried to prove his position by impressing dignitaries. When King David died his sister, Lydia Lili’uikalani, took the throne. She tried to restore power to the monarchy and replace the constitution. This led to the founders of the constitution, who were in conspiracy with U.S. Foreign Minister John Stevens, to take control of the palace and the Kingdom. The group convinced the U.S. Marines stationed in Honolulu that they were needed to stop a riot, but when they arrived at the palace they saw nothing but businessmen harassing the Queen.

On January, 1893, rather than risk certain death and bloodshed and sure that the United States would restore her rightful place, the Queen wrote a letter of surrender to U.S. president Benjamin Harrison stating she “protested against any and all acts done against myself and the constitutional government of the Hawaiian Kingdom….I yield to the superior force of the United States…until such time as the U.S. Government shall undo the actions…and reinstate me in the authority…as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.” Harrison wrote back that he would send help for the situation but it never came. Congress finally denounced any activity in Hawaii to help, and the Queen was held for eight months under armed guards in her own Palace.

In 1898 America finally was able to do what all other countries had been trying to do for the past century, and Hawaii was annexed to the United States, officially ending the Hawaiian monarchy. Honolulu was officially established as a city in 1907.

The Japanese bombed the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, located in Honolulu, on December 7, 1941. This surprise attack caused the United States to take action and enter World War II. “Remember Pearl Harbor” was a famous wartime slogan for Americans.

The 19th and early 20th centuries were difficult for Honolulu and all of Hawaii. The Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown, Hawaii joined the United States and the Japanese made their attack on Pearl Harbor. Since the war Honolulu has experienced a rise in tourism, and diversification of industry making Honolulu the central business and population area of Hawaii. Through all of this Honolulu remained the largest city, capital, and the main seaport of the Hawaiian Islands.

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