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Honolulu Books: History and Hiking Trails

Town and Country: These two books highlight the history of our city and our hiking trails.


Images of America: Honolulu Town

We love historical photos. (You might recall the 24-page historical photo essay in our November 2011 issue.) That’s why we couldn’t pass up the chance to peruse Images of America: Honolulu Town, a pictoral history of the city by local historians Laura Ruby and Ross Stephenson. The book, broken down into six chapters, takes readers on a journey through Honolulu’s history, beginning in 1884, with Oahu’s bustling waterfront, where the Island’s goods, food and servicemen arrived. Next is a look at Oahu’s schools, churches and theaters. Perhaps most interesting are the chapters on Honolulu’s vibrant nightlife—including its many brothels and “pleasure palaces”—and a final chapter on local disasters. The photos of the 1900 Chinatown fire and the 1927 Liliha flood are both eerie and mesmerizing. From Arcadia Publishing, $21.99, 128 pages.

photos: courtesy honolulu town, arcadia publishing

Natives Paths to Volunteer Trails

Did you know that, in the early 1980s, the local Sierra Club held “wallaby watch” hikes along Bowman Trail in Kalihi Valley? Stuart Ball’s book, Native Paths to Volunteer Trails, reveals interesting tidbits such as this throughout its 237 pages. Ball, renowned hiking expert, digs deep into the history of Oahu’s vast network of trails, from those used by ancient Hawaiians, to those forged by sugar plantation owners and the military, to the preservation of popular trails by recreational hikers. Of note is the history of the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club (HTMC), established in 1910, with fiancier William Castle and publisher Lorrin Thurston as its president and vice president. The club was influential in maintaining the island’s trails and popularizing hiking. Historical photos of the club and prominent hikers, as well as the trails themselves, are sprinkled throughout the book. University of Hawaii Press, $21.99.


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Honolulu Magazine September 2020
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