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November: From Our Files

HONOLULU Magazine and Paradise of the Pacific, chronicling the Islands since 1888.


Published:

Nov. 1915: Paradise of the Pacific, predecessor to HONOLULU Magazine, highlights O'ahu's three finest hotels (from left to right) and their daily room rates–the Alexander Young Hotel, $2 per day ($38.69 in 2005 dollars); the Moana Hotel, $5 ($96.73 today); and the original Royal Hawaiian Hotel located downtown, $1.50 ($29.02 today). Of the three, only the Moana, now known as the Sheraton Moana Surfrider, still stands today, with daily rates starting at about $310. The Alexander Young was demolished in 1981 and is now the site of Bishop Square. The Royal Hawaiian Hotel was relocated to Waikiki in 1927. Its original site downtown became home to the Armed Forces YMCA in 1917, then the headquarters of developer Chris Hemmeter in 1987 and now is known as the No. 1 Capitol Building, home to the Hawai'i State Art Museum.

Nov. 1950: The Honolulu Symphony Orchestra kicked off its 50th concert season with a new conductor, George Barati, a renowned Hungarian-born composer and cellist. "The growth of audiences in our century has resulted in having the average concertgoer less informed than his counterpart of the 19th century, who was usually an accomplished instrumentalist of some kind and who was thoroughly versed in the musical art," Paradise writes. "Because of this varied audience of today, the orchestras must produce more varied programs, and probably tend to play up the more popular."

Nov. 1955: The caption of this Paradise of Pacific photo reads, "Inimitable greeting for visitors deplaning at Honolulu Airport & the smile, the lei, the kiss on the cheek, the friendly aloha." That year, the number of visitors to Hawai'i was expected to exceed 120,000, with some 80 percent arriving by air. In 2004, almost 7 million visitors came to Hawai'i, with nearly 99 percent arriving by plane, according to the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism. The remaining visitors came by cruise ship.

Nov. 1970: HONOLULU Magazine publishes an excerpt from the just-released autobiography of composer Harry Owens, bandleader of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel orchestra, shown at left with his granddaughter and daughter, Leilani. Owens had penned one of his most popular songs, "Sweet Leilani," for his daughter in 1934. The simple tune became a hit in 1937, when Bing Crosby recorded it for his movie Waikiki Wedding. In his book, Owens recalls meeting Crosby at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, where the crooner first heard the song played by the orchestra. "As the choir was finishing the vocal chorus, I saw Bing moving in," Owens writes. "'What's the name of the song? ' he asked. "Sweet Leilani," I told him. ... 'Can't pronounce it,' said Bing, and he danced away. In 20 minutes, he was back at the bandstand. 'How about playing that song again, Harry? You know, the one I can't pronounce.' We played "Sweet Leilani" again. In fact, no less than five more times Bing requested the song he couldn't pronounce."

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