From Our Files: What Honolulu Looked Like Between February 1920 and 1980

A look back at Honolulu from 1920 to 1980. 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 laments the loss of Honolulu’s first algaroba tree, which has given way to the new Knights of Columbus building on Fort Street. Planted by Father Bachelot in 1828 on the Catholic Mission grounds, the tree stood for 91 years and produced 90,000 acres of progeny. “On account of the economic position which it holds in the Island flora and the blessings which the original tree, now gone, has showered on the inhabitants of this Territory, the algaroba tree has well earned its place today as the most valuable tree in Hawai‘i,” Paradise says.


1920: The name Alaloa is the frontrunner for a new road on O‘ahu, until the Daughters of Hawai‘i object based on its meaning, “death trail.” It was named Kamehameha Highway instead.



Rosalie Enos Keliinoi is elected to the House of Representatives in the Territory of Hawai‘i, making her the first woman in politics since the monarchy. “In the old days, before ‘civilization’ came to Hawai‘i, women were very considerably considered in governmental affairs,” Paradise writes. “Always, of course, woman’s influence is in government, but it has taken long, in modern systems, for women to reach official seats of influence.” Keliinoi is from Kaua‘i, which Paradise deems “appropriate,” as “this most northern of the archipelago’s principal isles has ever been the most independent.”





The original Royal Hawaiian Hotel, at the corner of Hotel and Richards streets, was built in 1872 and demolished in 1917, to make room for a better YMCA. The name, however, found a new home at the current Royal Hawaiian, which opened in 1927. In this issue, Paradise looks back on the hotel’s namesake with nostalgia.





HONOLULU profiles five nightclub bouncers to shake the image that they’re mean, terrifying individuals—they’re just misunderstood. Pictured here is Ricky Davis (center), a 6-foot-3-inch, 240-pound assistant manager at Spats. “You can tell a lot by the way someone’s dressed,” Davis says. “Because you’ve got a lot of this funk dress, punk rock dress, you know, and guys like to come in and just scam. … You have to be diplomatic and have a lot of tact. But you have to get your point across.” 







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