Walk Historic Honolulu
Honolulu, like many great cities, grew up around a harbor. In the late 1700s when Captain William Brown discovered the inlet known as Kou, the harbor was the only accessible anchorage in all the Hawaiian Islands and provided refuge for Asian trade ships. The captain named it Fair Haven. In time, Honolulu replaced Fair Haven in ship charts and sailor talk. In Hawaiian, hono means bay and lulu means calm.
Today, the Aloha Tower and the Honolulu Harbor bring to mind a time when Honolulu was known as the “Crossroads of the Pacific.” Honolulu harbor was filled with ships — first explorers, then merchants, and now the giant vessels of leisure travelers.
Heading inland from the shoreline, history breathes in places like the ʻIolani Palace, the only palace on U.S. soil; the Mission Houses complex, built in the early 1800s by Christian missionaries who would change the history of Hawaii; and Washington Place, until recently the official residence of Hawaii governors.
The mansion also served as the place where Hawaii’s last queen was held until her death under house arrest. Queen Liliʻuokalani, who was confined to the mansion following the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy, died there in 1917 after 24 years in confinement. The mansion, built in 1846, has now been designated a national historic landmark.
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, established in 1843, is the oldest cathedral in continuous use in the United States. One of Hawaii’s most revered priests was ordained in the cathedral in 1864. The Blessed Father Damien died in 1889 after devoting his life to serving leprosy victims confined to Molokai. The cathedral is located at 1184 Bishop Street.
Tours of these and other downtown Honolulu historic sites are available and will shed light not only into turbulent events like the U.S. overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, but also into the splendid resiliency of the Hawaiian culture.
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