Honolulu, Hawaii

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Honolulu is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Hawai‘i. In the Hawaiian language, honolulu means "sheltered bay" or "place of shelter." The city is located along the southeast coast of the island of O‘ahu. The term also refers to the District of Honolulu (see Geography below). According to latest U.S. Census estimates (2004), the population of the district is 390,000 and that of the county is 900,000. In Hawai‘i, municipal governments operate only at the county level, and the City & County of Honolulu encompasses all of the Island of O‘ahu (approximately 600 square miles).



Honolulu is located at 21°18'32" North, 157°49'34" West (21.308950, -157.826182)Template:GR. While this is clearly in the tropics, the climate (temperature and humidity) is moderated by the mid-ocean location and some cooling achieved by the California Current that passes through the islands much of year. The average daily low and high temperature in January is 65/80 °F (18/27 °C) and in July is 74/88 °F (23/31 °C). Temperatures exceed 90 °F (32 °C) only rarely with lows in the 50's ?F (15 °C) occurring once or twice a year.

Honolulu as seen from the International Space Station
Honolulu as seen from the International Space Station

The Honolulu District is located on the southeast coast of O‘ahu between Makapu‘u and Hālawa. The District boundary follows the Ko‘olau crestline, so Makapu‘u Beach is in the Ko‘olaupoko District. On the west, the district boundary follows Hālawa Stream, then crosses Red Hill and runs just west of Aliamanu Crater, so that Aloha Stadium, Pearl Harbor, and Hickam Air Force Base are actually all in the ‘Ewa District.

Most of the city's commercial and industrial developments are located on a narrow but relatively flat coastal plain, while numerous ridges and valleys located inland of the coastal plain divide Honolulu's residential areas into distinct neighborhoods: some spread along valley floors (like Mānoa in Mānoa Valley) and others climbing the interfluvial ridges. Within Honolulu proper can be found a number of volcanic cones: Punchbowl, Diamond Head, Koko Head (includes Hanauma Bay), Koko Crater, Salt Lake, and Āliamanu are most conspicuous.

Honolulu and Juneau, Alaska are the only two US state capitals that cannot be reached by road from the rest of the country, or from the majority of the land area of their respective states.


It is not known when Honolulu was first settled by the original Polynesians. Oral histories and artifacts indicate that there was a settlement where Honolulu now stands in the 12th century. However, after Kamehameha I conquered O‘ahu in the Battle of Nu‘uanu Pali, he moved his royal court from the Island of Hawai‘i to Waikīkī in 1804. His court later relocated, in 1809, to where downtown Honolulu now stands.

Captain William Brown of England was the first foreigner to sail, in 1794, into what is now Honolulu Harbor. More foreign ships would follow, making the port of Honolulu a focal point for merchant ships traveling between North America and Asia.

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Rainbow over Honolulu skyline with Diamond Head behind.

In 1845, Kamehameha III moved the permanent capital of the Hawaiian kingdom from Lāhainā on Maui to Honolulu. He and the kings that followed him transformed Honolulu into a modern capital, erecting buildings such as St. Andrew's Cathedral, Iolani Palace, and Aliiolani Hale. At the same time, Honolulu became the center of commerce in the islands, with descendants of American missionaries establishing their businesses in downtown Honolulu.

Despite the turbulent history of the late 19th century and early 20th century, which saw the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, Hawaii's subsequent annexation by the United States, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Honolulu would remain the capital, largest city, and main port of the Hawaiian Islands.

An economic and tourism boom following statehood brought rapid economic growth to Honolulu and Hawaii. Modern air travel would bring thousands of visitors to the islands. Today, Honolulu is a modern city with numerous high-rise buildings, and Waikiki is the center of the tourism industry in Hawaii, with thousands of hotel rooms.

Image provided by Classroom Clipart (http://classroomclipart.com)
Image provided by Classroom Clipart (http://classroomclipart.com)


Originally governed by a Board of Supervisors, the City & County of Honolulu is administered under a mayor-council system of governance overseeing all municipal services: civil defense, emergency medical, fire, parks and recreation, police, sanitation, streets, water, among others. One of the largest municipal governments in the United States, the City & County of Honolulu has an annual operating budget of $1 billion.

The current mayor of Honolulu is Mufi Hannemann (term ends January 2009).

Neighborhoods and districts

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View of downtown Honolulu at Bishop and King streets with First Hawaiian Bank building (left) and Bank of Hawai‘i (right)
  • Downtown Honolulu is the financial, commercial and governmental center of Hawai‘i. On the waterfront is Aloha Tower, which for many years was the tallest building in Hawai‘i. Currently the tallest building is the 450-foot-tall (137 m) First Hawaiian Center, located on King & Bishop Streets. On the eastern side of downtown is the historic center of Hawai‘i's state government: the Hawai‘i State Capitol, ‘Iolani Palace, Honolulu Hale, and the statue of King Kamehameha I are the central features of this area, along with numerous government buildings.
  • Kaka‘ako is a light-industrial district between Downtown and Waikīkī that has seen a large-scale redevelopment effort in the past decade. It is home to two major shopping areas, Ward Warehouse and Ward Centre. Several other redevelopment projects are planned in this area, including a new medical school campus for the University of Hawai‘i.
  • Waikīkī is the famous tourist district of Honolulu, located between the Ala Wai Canal and the Pacific Ocean. Numerous hotels, shops, and other nightlife are located along Kalākaua and Kuhio Avenues. World-famous Waikīkī Beach attracts thousands of visitors a year. Just west of Waikīkī is Ala Moana Center, the world's largest open-air shopping center. A majority of the hotel rooms on O‘ahu are located in Waikīkī.
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Downtown Honolulu as seen from the Capitol District
  • Mānoa and Makiki are residential neighborhoods located in adjacent valleys just inland of Downtown and Waikīkī. Mānoa Valley is home to the main campus of the University of Hawai‘i.
  • Palolo and Kaimukī are neighborhoods east of Mānoa and Makiki, inland from Diamond Head. Palolo Valley parallels Mānoa and is a residential neighborhood. Kaimukī is primarily a residential neighborhood with a commercial strip centered on Wai‘alae Avenue. Chaminade University is located in Kaimuki.
  • Wai‘alae and Kāhala are the upper-class districts of Honolulu located directly east of Diamond Head, where there are many high-priced homes. Also found in these neighborhoods are the Wai‘alae Country Club and the Kāhala Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
  • East Honolulu includes the residential communities of Āina Haina, Niu Valley, and Hawai‘i Kai. These are considered upper-middle-class neighborhoods.
  • Nu‘uanu and Pauoa are middle-class to upper-middle-class residential districts located inland of downtown Honolulu. The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is located here.
  • Kalihi and Palama are working-class neighborhoods with many government housing developments. Lower Kalihi, toward the ocean, is a light-industrial district.
  • Salt Lake and Āliamanu are (mostly) residential areas built in extinct tuff cones along the western end of the Honolulu District, not far from the Honolulu International Airport.
  • Moanalua is two neighborhoods and a valley at the western end of Honolulu, and home to Tripler Army Medical Center.


Located on the western end of the city, Honolulu International Airport (HNL) is the principal aviation gateway to the state of Hawai‘i.

Two freeways serve Honolulu proper:

  • Interstate H-1, which, coming into the city from the west, passes Hickam Air Force Base and Honolulu International Airport, runs just north of Downtown and continues eastward through Makiki and Kaimukī, ending at Wai‘alae/Kāhala. West of the city proper, H-1 connects to Interstates Interstate H-2 from Wahiawā.
  • Interstate H-201 — also known as the Moanalua Freeway and formerly numbered Hawaii State Rte. 78 — connects two points along H-1: at Aloha Stadium and Fort Shafter. Close to H-1 and Aloha Stadium, H-201 has an exchange with the western terminus of Interstate H-3 to the windward side of O‘ahu (Kāne‘ohe). This complex of connecting ramps, some directly between H-1 and H-3, is in Hālawa.

Other major highways that link Honolulu proper with other parts of the Island of O‘ahu are:

  • Pali Highway, State Rte. 61, crosses north through the Ko‘olau range via the Pali Tunnels to connect to Kailua and Kāne‘ohe on the windward side.
  • Likelike Highway, State Rte. 63, also crosses the Ko‘olau to Kāne‘ohe via the Wilson Tunnels.
  • Kalanianaole Highway, State Rte. 72, runs eastward from Wai‘alae/Kāhala to Hawai‘i Kai and around the east end of the island to Waimānalo Beach.
  • Kamehameha Highway, State Rte. 99, runs westward from near Hickam Air Force Base to ‘Aiea and beyond, paralleling the H-1.

Like most major American cities, the Honolulu metropolitan area experiences heavy traffic congestion during rush hours, especially to and from the western suburbs of Kapolei, Ewa, ‘Aiea, Pearl City, Waipahu, and Mililani. Land for expanding road capacity is at a premium.

Established by former Mayor Frank F. Fasi, Honolulu's public transit system has been twice honored by the American Public Transportation Association bestowing the title of "America's Best Transit System" for 1994-1995 and 2000-2001. O‘ahu Transit Services' TheBus operates 93 routes with a fleet of 525 buses.

Currently, there is no fixed-rail mass transit system in Honolulu. However, in 2004, the City & County of Honolulu and the State of Hawai‘i approved development of an action plan for a fixed rail mass transit system to be built in several phases. The initial line could link Kapolei in West O‘ahu to Iwilei near Downtown Honolulu. Several attempts had been made since the 1980s and 1990s to construct a fixed rail mass transit system but stalled during Honolulu City Council hearings.

Also in 2004, construction had started on a bus rapid transit system using dedicated rights-of-way for buses. The system, proposed by former Mayor Jeremy Harris, was expected to link the Iwilei neighborhood with Waikīkī. However, current Mayor Mufi Hannemann has largely dismantled the BRT system and deployed its buses along other express bus routes.

Cultural institutions

Performing arts

Established in 1900, the Honolulu Symphony is the oldest symphony orchestra west of the Rocky Mountains. Other classical music ensembles include the Hawaii Opera Theatre. Honolulu is also a center for Hawaiian music. The main music venues include the Neal Blaisdell Center Concert Hall, the Waikiki Shell, and the Hawaii Theatre.

Honolulu also includes several venues for live theatre, including the Diamond Head Theatre and the Manoa Valley Theatre.

Visual arts

Located near downtown Honolulu, the premier venue for visual arts in Hawai'i is the Honolulu Academy of Arts. The Honolulu Academy of Arts features the largest collection of Western and Asian art in Hawai'i and also hosts a year-round film and video program dedicated to the presentation of arthouse and world cinema in the museum's Doris Duke Theatre. The Contemporary Museum in Makiki is the main museum of contemporary art in the state.

Other museums, aquariums, zoos, and cultural centers


Currently, Honolulu has no professional sports teams. However, Honolulu hosts the National Football League's annual Pro Bowl each February. Fans of spectator sports in Honolulu generally support the football, volleyball, basketball, and baseball programs of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Venues for spectator sports in Honolulu include:

Honolulu's mild climate lends itself to year-round fitness activities as well. In 2004, Men's Fitness magazine named Honolulu the fittest city in the U.S. Honolulu is also home to two large road races:


Honolulu is served by two daily newspapers: the Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. It is one of the few remaining cities of its size in the U.S. to have more than one daily newspaper.

Honolulu is also served by 13 television stations (including all the major U.S. television networks), 20 FM radio stations, and 17 AM radio stations. [1] (http://www.hawaiiradiotv.com/)

Oceanic Time Warner Cable is the primary cable television carrier in the Honolulu metropolitan area. Satellite television is also available as an alternative.


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there were 371,657 people, 140,337 households, and 87,429 families residing in the city proper. The population density was 1,674.4/km² (4,336.6/mi²). There were 158,663 housing units at an average density of 714.8/km² (1,851.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 19.67% White, 1.62% Black or African American, 0.19% Native American, 55.85% Asian, 6.85% Pacific Islander, 0.89% from other races, and 14.93% from two or more races. 4.37% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 140,337 households out of which 23.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.5% were married couples living together, 12.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.7% were non-families. 29.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size is 3.23.

In Honolulu the population was spread out with 19.2% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 24.1% from 45 to 64, and 17.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 96.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city proper was $45,112, and the median income for a family was $56,311. Males had a median income of $36,631 versus $29,930 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $24,191. 11.8% of the population and 7.9% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 14.6% of those under the age of 18 and 8.5% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Tourist attractions

See also: O‘ahu

Colleges & universities

External links



(1) Geographic references.
(2) Honolulu Advertiser (http://www.HONOLULUADVERTISER.com/localnews/), Section B. Monday, June 7, 2004. Estimated student body size and annual tuition for selected colleges on O‘ahu.

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Flag of

State of Template:Unicode
Cities | Geography | History | Language | Landmarks
State capital: Honolulu
Principal towns: Hilo | Honolulu | Kahului | Kailua-Kona | Template:Unicode
Islands: Template:Unicode | Template:Unicode | Template:Unicode | Template:Unicode | Maui | Template:Unicode | Template:Unicode | Northwestern Hawaiian Islands | Template:Unicode
Counties: Template:Unicode | Honolulu | Kalawao | Template:Unicode | Maui

Template:United States state capitals


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