History in Honolulu

Edit This
According to oral histories and traditions, the first settlement of Honolulu is attributed to Polynesian travelers that arrived around the 12th century. King Kamehameha I later conquered the island of Oahu in the Battle of Nuuanu Pali and moved the capital of his empire from the Big Island to Waikiki around 1804. When visiting Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, make sure to stop by the Royal Hawaiian Center where there is a guest services office providing short videos narrating the history of Honolulu.

The Capital of Hawaii

In 1845, King Kamehameha III made Honolulu the permanent capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, which has been previously at Lahaina in the island of Maui. Becoming the official capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, allowed Honolulu to receive increased funds that were channeled into building infrastructure to modernize the city.

At the same time, the geopolitical location of Honolulu made it a commercial hub between merchants from the Eastern and Western hemispheres.

1959: A Year of Change


1959 was a pivotal year for the city of Honolulu. In August of 1959, Hawaii was declared the 50th state of the United States of America, regular jet service began between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii and the Ala Moana center opened its doors for the first time.

Hawaii's Statehood


On August 21st, 1959, Hawaii was inducted into the United States as an official state. Hawaii's statehood set off an incredible enthusiasm for the accelerated growth that was about to happen in the Hawaiian Islands, particularly Honolulu. The most important benefit of Hawaii's statehood was that the Hawaiian people now had a political voice to choose their own representative rather than having the U.S. President appoint a territorial governor. Hawaii's new legal status provided domestic and international entrepreneurs the confidence to invest in Hawaii. Soon after achieving statehood, two industries replaced agriculture as the main provider of the state's income: tourism and retail.

Regular Jet Service Begins Between U.S. Mainland and Hawaii


Short after Hawaii's official statehood, on August 24th, 1959 regular jet service began in Honolulu between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii. Honolulu's airport became a major hub of connection between the Eastern and Western hemispheres. The first planes to arrive in Honolulu were Pan American Airway's Boeing 707 jetliners. Shortly after United Airlines' DC-8s and air crafts from other countries such as Japan and Canada began bringing visitors to Oahu and its neighboring islands. The influx of visitors to Hawaii boosted the local economy and rushed an accelerated development of Waikiki, turning it into the major metropolis that it is today.

Ala Moana Center Opens

Even though Ala Moana Center opened one week prior to Hawaii's statehood on August 13th, 1959, this mall complex surely benefited from the induction of Hawaii into the United States as a state. Ala Moana is now the largest outdoor shopping center and in so heavily visited by tourists that in 1992 it had four times more visitors than Disneyland. Back in 1959 Ala Moana Center only had 680,000 square feet, while in 2009 it stands as a 2.1 million square feet shopping behemoth.

The port city of Honolulu continues to be a major hub where cultures from all around the globe meet for entertainment, business and exchanging traditions and customs.

Nearby History Guides

Where World66 helps you find the best deals on Honolulu Hotels