Bypassed by Capt. James Cook when he explored the islands in 1778, Honolulu's harbor was entered in 1794 by William Brown, an English captain. Honolulu's history from 1820, when missionaries arrived on the islands, is much the same as that of Hawaii. Growing from a settlement of mud huts into the main residence of Hawaiian royalty and later of foreign consuls, Honolulu became the permanent capital of the kingdom of Hawaii in 1845. In the 19th cent., American and European whalers and sandalwood traders visited its port, and Honolulu was occupied successively by Russian, British, and French forces. It remained Hawaii's capital when the islands were annexed by the United States in 1898 and achieved statehood in 1959. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the naval base at Honolulu, on Dec. 7, 1941, and during World War II the port became a strategic naval base and a staging area for U.S. forces in the Pacific.
Since the war, a rise in tourism, diversification of industry, and construction of luxury hotels and housing developments have made Honolulu the business and population center of Hawaii. Increased peacetime defense activity at the many military installations in the area (Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, Schofield Barracks, and Camp H. M. Smith, headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Command), expansion of harbor facilities, and the completion of an international airport further aided the city's growth. Honolulu's other industries include jewelry, printing and publishing, clothing, food and beverages, rubber products, construction materials, and electronics and computer equipment. Major redevelopment of the Honolulu Harbor area was undertaken in the 1990s.
The largest of Honolulu's parks is Kapiolani, containing a zoo, an aquarium, and Waikiki Shell, where the Honolulu Symphony gives concerts. The Honolulu Botanical Gardens consists of four gardens in and around the city. Also in Honolulu is the Arizona Memorial for the 1,100 who died during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Notable institutions are the Univ. of Hawaii; the Bishop Museum, noted for its studies of Polynesia; the Honolulu Academy of Arts, known for its Asian and Hawaiian collections; and Kawaiahao Church (1841), where funerals for Hawaiian monarchs and nobility were held. Iolani Palace, the former home of Hawaii's kings, is the only royal palace in the United States. The beach at Waikiki is especially noted for bathing and surfing. The famous Diamond Head crater is nearby.
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.
In 1845, Kamehameha III moved the permanent capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom from Lahaina 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 Aliiōlani Hale. At the same time, Honolulu became the center of commerce in the Islands, with descendants of American missionaries establishing major 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 airport and seaport 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, eventually millions (per annum) of visitors to the Islands. Today, Honolulu is a modern city with numerous high-rise buildings, and Waikīkī is the center of the tourism industry in Hawaii, with thousands of hotel rooms.
The closest location on the mainland to Honolulu is the Point Arena, California Lighthouse, at 2,045 nautical miles (2,353 statute miles) or 3,787 kilometers. (Nautical vessels require some additional distance to circumnavigate Makapu'u Point.) However, part of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska are slightly closer than California.
Honolulu is administered under a consolidated city-county form of government employing a strong mayor-council system. The Mayor of Honolulu holds executive privilegesas opposed to mayors with only ceremonial powersand the Honolulu City Council serves as the legislature. Mufi Hannemann currently serves as Mayor of Honolulu. His term ends January 2, 2010.
One of the largest municipal governments in the United States, the city and county works with an annual operating budget of over USD 1 billion. The Honolulu Fire Department and Honolulu Police Department are administered by the mayor and city council through appointed officials.
The Honolulu District is located on the southeast coast of Oahu between Makapuu and Halawa. The District boundary follows the Koolau crestline, so Makapuu Beach is in the Koolaupoko District. On the west, the district boundary follows Halawa Stream, then crosses Red Hill and runs just west of Aliamanu Crater, so that Aloha Stadium, Pearl Harbor (with the USS Arizona Memorial), and Hickam Air Force Base are actually all located in the island's 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 Manoa in Manoa Valley) and others climb the interfluvial ridges. Within Honolulu proper can be found several volcanic cones: Punchbowl, Diamond Head, Koko Head (includes Hanauma Bay), Koko Crater, Salt Lake, and Aliamanu being the most conspicuous.
As of the census of 2000, there were 371,657 people, 140,337 households, and 87,429 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 4,336.6 people per square mile (1,674.4/km²). There were 158,663 housing units at an average density of 1,851.3/sq mi (714.8/km²). 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. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.37% of the population.
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 the CDP 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 CDP 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. About 7.9% of families and 11.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.6% of those under the age of 18 and 8.5% of those 65 and older.
Several freeways serve Honolulu:
Other major highways that link Honolulu proper with other parts of the Island of Oahu are:
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 everywhere on Oahu.
In 2004, construction had started on a bus rapid transit (BRT) system using dedicated rights-of-way for buses. The system, proposed by then Mayor Jeremy Harris, was expected to link the Iwilei neighborhood with Waikiki. However, current Mayor Mufi Hannemann has largely dismantled the BRT system and deployed its buses along other express bus routes.
Several attempts had been made since Anderson's cancellation of HART to construct a fixed rail mass transit system. All attempts stalled in Honolulu City Council hearings. In 2004, the city, county and state approved development of an action plan for a system to be built in several phases. The initial line proposed linking Kapolei in West Oahu to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. However, on December 22, 2006 the city council approved a fixed-guideway system meant to accommodate either rail or buses, running from Kapolei in West Oahu to Ala Moana, with spurs into Waikiki and Manoa.
The Hawaii State Art Museum is also located in downtown Honolulu at No. 1 Capitol District Building and boasts a collection of art pieces created by local artists as well as traditional Hawaiian art. The museum is administered by the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.
Currently, Honolulu has no professional sports teams. However, Honolulu hosts the NFL's annual Pro Bowl each February in addition to the NCAA football Hawaii Bowl. Honolulu also supports the Hawaii Winter League annually from late September to late November, hosting minor league players from MLB, NPB, and Korea. Games are hosted at Les Murakami and Hans L'Orange Park. Fans of spectator sports in Honolulu generally support the football, volleyball, basketball, and baseball programs of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. High school sporting events, especially football, are especially popular. 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 three large road races: