No one knows for
certain when Honolulu was founded. Hawaiian oral histories and modern archeology
indicate a settlement in Honolulu about 1100 A.D., but it may have been settled
earlier as the first Polynesian migrants arrived nearly 2,000 years ago.
King Kamehameha I,
who conquered Oahu in a decisive battle fought the length of Nuuanu Valley,
moved his court from Hawaii Island to Waikiki in 1804. He relocated to what is
now downtown Honolulu five years later. The royal housing complex site is under
the Marin building built next to Nimitz Highway at Queen and Bethel streets. The
monarchs also maintained official residences in Kailua on Hawaii and Lahaina on
(meaning sheltered harbor) was named is unclear. The old name for Honolulu is
said to be Kou, a district roughly encompassing the area from Nuuanu Avenue to
Alakea Street and from Hotel Street to Queen Street (then the edge of the
waterfront) which is the heart of the present downtown district.
known also as Kulolia, was entered by the first foreigner, Captain William Brown
of the English ship Butterworth, in 1794. He named the harbor Fair Haven. Other
foreign captains then referred to it as Brown's Harbor. The name Honolulu (with
numerous variations in spelling) soon came into use. In the 1800s, the City of
Honolulu was the area near the harbor which is now referred to as downtown
Honolulu became the
most important shipping point in Hawaii. It flourished with the sandalwood
export and then as a supply port for whalers. Sugar, pineapples, light
manufacturing, tourism and defense installations followed as economic mainstays
and the last two remain so to this day.
adventurers, merchants and missionaries from America and Europe westernized the
Hawaiian Islands. Probably the greatest influence was by the group of
missionaries who arrived from New England in 1820. They left a lasting imprint
in fields of religion, education, economics and politics. Later, immigrants from
Asia brought other cultural values and practices that helped to fashion the
unique Hawaiian culture of today.
In 1850, Kamehameha
III proclaimed Honolulu the capital city of his kingdom. It is still the capital
and dominant city of the nation's 50th State.
Genealogical Society /
Hawaiian Historical Society /
Seal of Honolulu