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Astounding Honolulu

Weird, strange and intriguing things you didn't know about our Islands.


(page 7 of 7)

Whip It Good:

It is well-known that the fictitious detective Charlie Chan was based on the real life Honolulu police detective Chang Apana. It is less known that Apana carried a bullwhip instead of a gun. And the actual whip is on display at the Honolulu Police Museum, along with the aforementioned drunkometer and deceptograph.


King Kalakaua

was a founding member of the Hawaiian Humane Society and he outlawed cockfighting in 1894. The Humane Society also once protected water buffalo, which were used as work animals. I don’t know the Humane Society’s position on feral wallabies but I assume it’s “pro-wallaby.”


Ghost Road?

Some Windward residents claim there’s a stretch of road in Kailua near Castle Junction where cars can roll uphill. I tried to find it but couldn’t. I did notice that there’s a road in Kailua where your car rolls right to Starbucks.


Christmas did not come to Honolulu with the missionaries

Who brought Christianity to the Islands. Puritans did not believe in holidays that were not in the Bible, such as Easter and Christmas. Catholics were the first Honolulu residents to celebrate Christmas.


From 1924 to 1970

A baby was lent to Kamehameha Schools each year for senior girls to practice child rearing. It wasn’t the same baby.


Light It Up

Iolani Palace, which completed construction in 1881, had electric lights four years before the White House did. The White House, however, reportedly had a bowling alley before Iolani Palace did.


In 1982, a trial was held in U.S. District

Court in Honolulu in which the case was tried under British law, not U.S. law. But U.S. Judge Sam King did not have to wear a powdered wig. King presided over the libel lawsuit filed by Hammer DeRoburt, former president of the Republic of Nauru (known as the “guano island”) against the Pacific Daily News on Guam and its owner, Gannett. DeRoburt lost. It was the only time  where British law has been used in a Honolulu court. As a former court reporter, I just find this fascinating.


Shocking Discovery!

The famous Kamehameha Statue standing outside the Hawaii Supreme Court building is not modeled on an actual Hawaiian. The man who posed for the piece was part Caucasian and part Tahitian. The statue on King Street also is a copy. The original, made in Paris in 1880, went down off the Falkland Islands when the ship carrying it to Hawaii caught fire and sunk. The original was eventually recovered and now stands in front of the courthouse in Kohala on the Big Island. By the way, am I the only one who thinks the statue of Duke “Tsar” Kahanamoku in Waikiki looks more like its sculptor than the Duke?


Reefer Madness

I may not know how much concrete went into the H-3 Freeway, but I know how much coral was dredged up to make a runway: 19 million cubic yards. That’s a lot of fish tank filler. The Reef Runway at Honolulu International Airport was the first major runway in the world built entirely offshore on an underwater coral reef. More than 1,000 acres of new land were created. The runway was completed in 1977 at a final cost of $81 million. The reef runway was such an incredible feat of engineering that Nebraska wanted one.


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Honolulu Magazine July 2020
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