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About Honolulu

Honolulu is the capital as well as the most populous community of the State of Hawaii, United States. In the Hawaiian language, honolulu means "sheltered bay" or "place of shelter." The census-designated place (CDP) is located along the southeast coast of the island of Oahu. The term also refers to the District of Honolulu (see Geography below). As of July 1, 2004, the United States Census Bureau estimate for Honolulu puts the population at 377,260 and that of the city and county (essentially, the Island of Oahu) at 900,000. In Hawaii, local governments operate only at the county level, and the City & County of Honolulu encompasses all of the Island of Oahu (approximately 600 square miles).

Destination Guides > North America > USA > Hawaii > Oahu > Honolulu  

Skyline of Honolulu, Hawaii

History

It is not known when Honolulu was first settled by the original Polynesian migrants to the archipelago. Oral histories and artifacts indicate that there was a settlement where Honolulu now stands in the 12th century. However, after Kamehameha I conquered Oahu in the Battle of Nuuanu Pali, he moved his royal court from the Island of Hawaii to Waikiki in 1804. His court later relocated, in 1809, to what is now downtown Honolulu.

Captain William Brown of England was the first foreigner to sail, in 1794, into what is now Honolulu Harbor. More foreign ships would follow, making the port of Honolulu a focal point for merchant ships traveling between North America and Asia.

In 1845, Kamehameha III moved the permanent capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom from Lahaina on Maui to Honolulu. He and the kings that followed him transformed Honolulu into a modern capital, erecting buildings such as St. Andrew's Cathedral, Iolani Palace, and Aliiolani Hale. At the same time, Honolulu became the center of commerce in the Islands, with descendants of American missionaries establishing major businesses in downtown Honolulu.

Despite the turbulent history of the late 19th century and early 20th century, which saw the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, Hawaii's subsequent annexation by the United States, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Honolulu would remain the capital, largest city, and main airport and seaport of the Hawaiian Islands.

An economic and tourism boom following statehood brought rapid economic growth to Honolulu and Hawaii. Modern air travel would bring thousands, eventually millions (per annum) of visitors to the Islands. Today, Honolulu is a modern city with numerous high-rise buildings, and Waikiki is the center of the tourism industry in Hawaii, with thousands of hotel rooms.

Geography and climate

Honolulu is located at 21°18'32" North, 157°49'34" West (21.308950, -157.826182)GR1. While this is clearly in the tropics, the climate (temperature and humidity) is moderated by the mid-ocean location and some cooling achieved by the California Current that passes through the islands much of the year. The average daily low and high temperatures in January are 65/80 °F (18/27 °C) and in July are 74/88 °F (23/31 °C). Temperatures exceed 90 °F (32 °C) only rarely, with lows in the 50's °F (15 °C) occurring perhaps once or twice in a year. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Honolulu was 95 °F (35 °C) on September 19, 1994 and the coldest temperature ever recorded was 53 °F (11.6 °C) on January 31, 1998, 1972 and 1948; January 20, 1969; February 1 and February 2, 1976; February 9, 1981; and February 12, 1983.

View of the DFS Galleria in Waikiki

View of the DFS Galleria in Waikiki

Neighborhoods and special districts

View of downtown Honolulu at Bishop and King streets with First Hawaiian Center building (left) and Bank of Hawaii (right)
View of downtown Honolulu at Bishop and King streets with First Hawaiian Center building (left) and Bank of Hawaii (right)
  • Downtown Honolulu is the financial, commercial, and governmental center of Hawaii. On the waterfront is Aloha Tower, which for many years was the tallest building in Hawaii. Currently the tallest building is the 438-foot-tall (134 m) First Hawaiian Center, located on King and Bishop Streets ([3]).
  • The Arts District Honolulu in downtown/Chinatown is on the eastern edge of Chinatown. It is a 12-block area bounded by Bethel & Smith Streets and Nimitz Highway and Beretania Street - home to numerous arts and cultural institutions. It is located within the Chinatown Historic District. [4]
  • The Capitol District is the eastern part of Downtown Honolulu. It is the current and historic center of Hawaii's state government, incorporating the Hawaii State Capitol, Iolani Palace, Honolulu Hale (City Hall), State Library, and the statue of King Kamehameha I, along with numerous government buildings.
  • Kakaako is a light-industrial district between Downtown and Waikiki that has seen a large-scale redevelopment effort in the past decade. It is home to two major shopping areas, Ward Warehouse and Ward Centre. The John A. Burns School of Medicine, part of the University of Hawaii at Manoa is also located there. A Memorial to the Ehime Maru Incident victims is built at Kakaako Waterfront Park.
  • Waikiki is the world famous tourist district of Honolulu, located between the Ala Wai Canal and the Pacific Ocean next to Diamond Head. Numerous hotels, shops, and nightlife opportunities are located along Kalakaua and Kuhio Avenues. World-famous Waikiki Beach attracts millions of visitors a year. Just west of Waikiki is Ala Moana Center, the world's largest open-air shopping center. A majority of the hotel rooms on Oahu are located in Waikiki.
Downtown Honolulu as seen from the Capitol District
Downtown Honolulu as seen from the Capitol District
  • Manoa and Makiki are residential neighborhoods located in adjacent valleys just inland of downtown and Waikiki. Manoa Valley is home to the main campus of the University of Hawaii.
  • Nuuanu and Pauoa are middle-class to upper-middle-class residential districts located inland of downtown Honolulu. The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is located in Punchbowl Crater fronting Pauoa Valley.
  • Palolo and Kaimuki are neighborhoods east of Manoa and Makiki, inland from Diamond Head. Palolo Valley parallels Manoa and is a residential neighborhood. Kaimuki is primarily a residential neighborhood with a commercial strip centered on Waialae Avenue running behind Diamond Head. Chaminade University is located in Kaimuki.
  • Waialae and Kahala are the upper-class districts of Honolulu located directly east of Diamond Head, where there are many high-priced homes. Also found in these neighborhoods are the Waialae Country Club and The Kahala Hotel & Resort.
  • East Honolulu includes the residential communities of Aina Haina, Niu Valley, and Hawaii Kai. These are considered upper-middle-class neighborhoods. The upscale gated communities of Wai'alae 'iki and Hawaii Loa Ridge are also located here.
  • Kalihi and Palama are working-class neighborhoods with a number of government housing developments. Lower Kalihi, toward the ocean, is a light-industrial district.
  • Salt Lake and Aliamanu are (mostly) residential areas built in extinct tuff cones along the western end of the Honolulu District, not far from the Honolulu International Airport.
  • Moanalua is two neighborhoods and a valley at the western end of Honolulu, and home to Tripler Army Medical Center.

Colleges & universities

Tourist attractions

See also: Oahu 

 

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