What’s Hot and What’s Not in 1888 Honolulu


The power of steam began to quickly replace sails.

Out: Missionaries. Financial support from the American Mission to Hawaii ended in 1863, and Protestant influence waned as other Christian denominations arrived.

In: Capitalists. Making money is all the rage. Early issues of Paradise of the Pacific lure potential investors with proposals to grow and export everything from olives to oysters to ostriches.

Out: Sails. The power of the wind has taken voyagers and explorers around the world, but sail times are subject to wind and weather.

In: Steam. Coal-generated steam power cut Pacific crossing times by almost half—and coal can be burned no matter which way the wind is blowing.

Out: Whaling. Whaling shaped an era of Honolulu, but the invention of kerosene, which replaced the burning of whale oil for light, put one of many nails in the coffin of the industry.

In: Sugar Cane.  The sugar market exploded during the American Civil War, when Southern sugar disappeared from Northern tables and an alternative had to be found. Within a decade, newspapers were proclaiming “sugar is king”—not only among Hawaii’s edible crops, but as a political force that rivaled the monarchy.

Out: Rule Britannia. Since Captain Cook, Britain has been a prime foreign influence in the Hawaiian Islands, but the empire’s presence is waning. One sign of this shift: The British name for the kingdom, the “Sandwich Islands,” has become almost obsolete, in favor of the kingdom’s (and America's) preferred name, the Hawaiian Islands.

In: The Star-Spangled Banner.  The settlement of the American West was almost complete by the 1880s, but many restless fortune-seekers wanted to keep going west. As Britain withdrew, American interests rushed in. Many of them were reluctant to take up Hawaiian citizenship, preferring, eventually, that Hawaii simply become part of America.