From Our Files: February

Our History

In 1888, King Kalakaua 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 of the Pacific publishes a glamorizing piece about Honolulu Harbor, “where the human element finds expression in song and happiness.” The bustling harbor preceded the Honolulu International Airport as the gateway to the Islands (the jet age reached Hawaii in 1959), with lei sellers and live music bidding aloha to as many as 25,000 visitors in a season, and “spontaneous friendship being manifested on every hand.” Even when “drab, unromantic freighters come into the haven … Honolulu Harbor maintains its calm, and its beauty seems never to be disturbed.” In the ’30s, tens of thousands of tons of cargo passed through the harbor annually; in the 2010s, it’s more than 11 million tons.




Twenty-five years after its unveiling, the statue of Abraham Lincoln at Ewa Elementary School finally has its story told in the pages of HONOLULU Magazine. The statue, “the last large monument to be made in bronze before the government restricted the use of copper” in 1941, because of World War II, became a symbol of hope for the community in times of hardship. It was partly commissioned by Ewa teacher Katherine McIntosh Burke, who left $8,000 in her will for “an everlasting reminder and inspiration to coming generations of Hawaiian-American youth of the things that Lincoln accomplished and the character of the citizenship he typified.” Thus, Lincoln the Frontiersman was constructed atop a rainbow granite pedestal.




A piece on “the Dragon Lady” of nightspot Trappers in Waikiki profiles Mai Tai Sing, a dancer and lounge manager. “I think Dragon Ladies were ahead of their time as strong and independent women,” Sing tells HONOLULU. Sing was a hostess and part owner of the famous Ricksha nightclub in San Francisco during the ’60s, serving everyone from The Beatles to columnist Herb Caen, who gave her the Dragon Lady title as “a mysterious Oriental femme de charge who ran things with a combination of moxie, charm and surprising toughness,” HONOLULU writes. Sing sold the Ricksha and traveled the world before landing in Honolulu in 1976 as hostess and manager of Trappers, where she worked until her retirement in 2003.


Donna Kahakui tells HONOLULU that her 72-mile journey from Kaanapali to Waikiki the previous summer—the first by a single person paddling an outrigger canoe—was to raise awareness about the environment and marine debris.