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From Our Files: Moments from Hawai‘i’s Past—May Edition

A look back at Honolulu from May 1925 to 1995. Stories taken from the archives of Paradise of the Pacific and HONOLULU Magazine.


Our History

In 1888, King Kalākaua issued a royal charter, commissioning a magazine. Then titled Paradise of the Pacific, this publication became HONOLULU Magazine, making it the oldest magazine west of the Mississippi.





“Hawai‘i’s semi-tropic twilight is swift, but sweet; gorgeous or glorious, splendid or softly soothing, unbelievably colorful or just calmly inspirational, but always remarkable. A Pier at Waikīkī, Honolulu’s celebrated beach resort.”—Paradise color engraving from painting by H.B. Christian.








Paradise describes the three places on O‘ahu where Hawaiian petroglyphs have been found. The carvings at Koko Crater, the oldest in the Islands, resemble Native American artwork; when they were discovered in 1899, “serious speculation had it that a canoe-load of American Indians must have landed on these shores somewhere in the dim past—and left their mark!” That theory has since been denounced, as petroglyphs can be “strikingly similar in widely separated areas—although the artists could have had no contact with each other.” There are also carvings found in Nu‘uanu near the Royal Mausoleum and in Moanalua, where a sacred stone, Laupo, shows at least 20 figures, with “groups cut at different times and by different artists.” Their meanings remain a mystery, as “the little figures peer at us, dance before us, tantalize us with secrets.”


Herb Kawainui Kāne hypothesizes what Hawai‘i would be like if the British Capt. George Vancouver’s cession treaty with Kamehameha I had been ratified by Parliament. If Hawai‘i had become part of the British Empire, Kāne says Hawaiians would be called “Sandwich Islands Maoli,” most of the land would be controlled by chiefly families, contract laborers would have been primarily from India rather than Japan and China, and the U.S. may not have gotten involved in World War II.






A bit of HONOLULU snark leads to an executive sign decision. Writes the magazine, “Our March ‘Best & Worst’ feature named a placard in Pearl City as the Worst (or Most Incomprehensible) Highway Sign. Some drivers never figured out that the boxy logo was supposed to stand for Leeward Community College. Apparently our article reminded governor [Ben Cayetano] about his old pet peeve. He faxed a copy of the story—with the item circled—to transportation director Kazu Hayashida. Get those signs down! he instructed, then repeated the order at a subsequent Cabinet meeting. Within a week, the six offending signs were gone, presumably replaced with more readable ones. For its part in the eradication operation, the magazine was awarded one of the discarded signs.”






Learn more about the evolution of covers in HONOLULU Magazine and Paradise of the Pacific: 125 Years of Covers, available at shop.honolulumagazine.com.


Did you know? In 2005, the first Grammy for a Hawaiian Music Album is awarded to Charles Michael Brotman’s Slack Key Guitar Vol. 2, setting off a wave of controversy in the Islands.


Read more stories by Katrina Valcourt


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Honolulu Magazine May 2019
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