Walking Honolulu's Queen Street
Where Honolulu’s urban past and future meet.
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Chuck’s Corvette Clinic
Inside one of Queen Street’s many Quonset huts, Chuck Garner keeps his last race car, unmoved in the six years since Campbell Industrial Park raceway closed. Termite-chewed trophies cram the shop walls, testifying to Garner’s 50 years of car, motorcycle and boat racing. He’s wrecked a lot of vehicles in his life—it’s how he got into this business in the first place, by teaching himself to fix his ride. These days, though, he’s about rebuilding, operating as a full-service auto-body paint shop for all car brands. “Up until the late ’80s, I probably had 10, 12, 15 Corvettes in here, 365 days a year,” Garner says. Now, among the Camaros, BMWs and Fords, he’ll restore the occasional vintage Corvette—mostly for parades and Sunday drivers—and refresh newer models for daily drivers. “They’re still the American dream,” he says. 505 Kamani St., 597-8147, chuckscorvetteclinic.com.
Queen Street’s Course Through Time
The earliest traffic along Queen Street was probably the foot traffic along a crescent beach that once fronted Honolulu Harbor, near the mouth of Nuuanu Stream.
As Honolulu grew into a city, Queen Street emerged along the beach as an unpaved roadway, with wharves and sailing ships on one side, warehouses, saloons and other critical waterfront facilities on the other. Near the rocky point where the beach ended, the gently curving street straightened, aimed for the most prominent landmark to the east, Diamond Head, and grew to become one of Old Honolulu’s major commercial thoroughfares.
Over time, Queen Street extended further and further toward Diamond Head. It ran through a working-class neighborhood that sprung up in Kakaako then evolved into an industrial district. Queen settled into its current downtown role as a side street. It lost its quarter-mile-long waterfront stretch to Nimitz Highway at its Ewa end and, in 2004, gained 750 feet on the Diamond Head end. This so-called Queen Street Extension opened a direct connection along Queen Street between downtown and Ala Moana Center at Piikoi Street.
What many motorists using this route probably don’t realize is that Queen Street has a surprise ending. It doesn’t actually reach Ala Moana Center. Instead, it quietly merges with Waimanu Street for the final two-block run to Ala Moana. But Queen Street doesn’t actually “end” at Waimanu. A detached, 300-foot segment dashes past the old IBM Building and terminates at Ala Moana Boulevard. See for yourself on the map.
Capone’s Ultimate Detail
Mike Capone may not be his real name, but if you want him to detail your car it might be best if you just enjoyed the gangster-movie memorabilia in the waiting room and didn’t ask too many questions. Capone does say, however, that his father owned an “Italian Social club” back in the Bronx, and that his father “exited” him from the family business for, um, health reasons. In any case, Capone is blinging out cars on Queen Street now. And that’s all you really need to know. “I’m a very successful businessman,” he says in his thick Bronx accent. “Well connected and well respected.” 844 Queen St., 593-7784.
Lin’s Hawaiian Snacks
Lin’s Hawaiian Snacks contains one of the largest selections of crack seed, dried snacks and candies on the island, perfect for a movie snack at Ward Theaters nearby. Seafood lines an entire wall: wasabi dried crab, cuttlefish rings, baby scallop, dried shrimp, marlin taegu, smoked tako. There are 26 varieties of plum, plus sweetened olives, ginger, lemon peel and pickled mango. Oh, and don’t forget the bubble milk tea and “snow ice,” flavored ice shaved into thin sheets like phyllo. 401 Kamakee St., 593-8611, linsmarkethawaii.com.