From Our Files: What Honolulu Looked Like Between November 1929 and 1994

A look back at Honolulu from 1929 to 1994. 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.




Paradise writer Maleko Kalamake recalls a tale of two kāhuna “in cahoots” with Pele. One of the men made a sacrifice of “ho‘omalimali” fruit to the goddess, which caused Kīlauea to erupt after weeks of peace. When they left the next day, the eruption ceased; when they arrived at Haleakalā soon after, she appeared to them. “Madame Pele rode the clouds with great ease and was surrounded by a triple circular rainbow of astonishing brilliancy,” Kalamake writes, a phenomenon known as a Brocken specter. “Whenever [the kāhuna] raised the left hand, Pele raised the right. When they raised the right hand, she raised the left. [They] decided that this was further proof of the ancient doctrine of the obstinacy of women.”



James Michener tells the story of how he came to write his novel Hawai‘i and the hundreds of thousands of dollars people were offering to turn it into a film, run excerpts in magazines and select it for book clubs. “Everything that can happen to a book has already happened to this one, and it hasn’t even been published,” Michener says. The eventual film came out in 1966 and starred Julie Andrews and Max von Sydow, with a 1970 sequel, The Hawaiians, starring Charlton Heston and Geraldine Chaplin.








Honolulu Zoo director Jack Throp attempts to bring poi dogs back from extinction. No word on whether or not it’s to eat them.



HONOLULU profiles the first Asian-American astronaut, Ellison Onizuka, a local boy from Kona who was selected from more than 8,000 applicants to join a mission to space. “Sure, there’s a risk,” Onizuka tells HONOLULU. “The thing that keeps me going is that this is an adventure. The challenge of seeing it through is far greater than the risk.” His first mission took place the following year, on Jan. 24, 1985, on the space shuttle Discovery. His second mission, on Jan. 28, 1986, ended in tragedy, with all seven crewmembers aboard Challenger losing their lives in an explosion shortly after takeoff. The Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center on the Big Island is dedicated to his memory.



An amateur photographer, Charlie Lavina Warder, captured images of the Great Chinatown Fire of 1900, published in this issue.







Learn more about the evolution of covers in Honolulu Magazine and Paradise of the Pacific: 125 Years of Covers, available at


Read more stories by Katrina Valcourt


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