Editor's Page: Our 125th Anniversary

After 1,500 issues, we're still going strong.

Honolulu, you have a little something you can be proud of this month. You’ve kept a magazine going for 125 years. In January 1888, the first issue of our predecessor, Paradise of the Pacific, was first published out of offices in the Friend Building on Bethel Street. We’ve been published continuously ever since, changing names to HONOLULU Magazine in 1966. Not even World War II interrupted Paradise.

This puts us in rare company. HONOLULU’s 125 years put us alongside such titles as Scientific American (1845), The Atlantic (1857), Cosmopolitan (1886) and National Geographic (1888).

By some measures, the world’s oldest consumer magazine is The Scots Magazine, founded in Edinburgh in 1793, though decades sometimes passed without an issue appearing. It folded once in 1826—only to be revived in 1888. You can still subscribe today, if you need a magazine wholly focused on life in Scotland.

I meant to make only a passing reference to The Scots Magazine, until I saw a recent blog item on its site discussing the preservation of the Gaelic language as “a fundamental part of Scottish culture … as an important part of our country’s heritage, but also as a living language.” This reminded me of HONOLULU’s many articles about preserving the Hawaiian language, out of the exact same conviction that this place would lose something fundamental about its identity if its unique, indigenous language were to die.

This is how regional magazines succeed, by being the medium through which a place’s concerns, hopes and aspirations, problems and controversies, aren’t merely reported on, but discussed, analyzed, argued over and thought about.

It’s remarkable that generations of magazine owners and staffers have been able to provide that for Honolulu and Hawaii. The magazine has changed hands many times, and countless people have contributed. I’m HONOLULU’s 21st editor, and I’m sure I won’t be its last. If we’re still here today, it’s because those who came before us met the challenges of their times.

For our first business manager, J.J. Williams, the challenge of 1888 was launching a magazine that would be what King David Kalakaua had in mind, a publication that sold Hawaii to the outside world as a modern place to do business or visit. For the husband-and-wife editing team of Cynthia and David Eyre in the mid-1960s, the challenge was reinventing the magazine for a kama‘āina readership. For owner/publisher/editor David Pellegrin, the challenge of the Honolulu Publishing Co. era in the early 1980s was to convert from a controlled circulation model—that is, the magazine was mailed for free to people in select, well-heeled zip codes—to a paid subscription model. He believed this magazine was something people would value enough to pay for, and he was right.

Since 2001, HONOLULU has been part of the PacificBasin Communications family of magazines. For those of us entrusted with HONOLULU now, the challenges—the opportunities, really—include extending our reach into digital editions for iPad and Kindle, the web, social media and sister publications (yes, we do them all). I think one of the hardest parts of this new world is retaining that reflective, introspective quality that people look for from magazines. In real life, we’re as distracted by the 21st century pace as you are, but we still take the time to write long articles you’ll want to spend time reading.

For example, in this issue, you’ll find Tiffany Hill’s profile of Paulette Kaleikini. You may know her as the woman whose lawsuits over Native Hawaiian remains put a kink in the rail project and brought entire condo projects to a halt. We wanted to learn about the real person behind the news stories. It’s the kind of article that magazines really pioneered, and still excel at today.

Happy Birthday, HONOLULU. And to all of you who read us, and who have advertised with us over the years, thank you for making this birthday possible.

Did you know? Number of issues we've published as HONOLULU Magazine: 558. Complete archives of Paradise of the Pacific and HONOLULU Magazine can be found at the main branch of the state library.