Seeking historic Ala Wai evidence
OVER the years the readers of Water Ways have continually impressed me with their remarkable maritime knowledge and I have learned to depend on their input regarding a variety of subjects.
No matter what issue I might have written about in this column -- from boating safety and marina maintenance, to governmental legislation and environmental concerns -- there always seems to be someone who can fill in a few more details or point out my errors.
So now, because this font of knowledge has been so reliable in the past, I would like to take advantage of it this week by asking for some assistance.
But first, let me provide some background.
I am currently researching the history of what the state has officially designated as the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor. And although I have found a good deal of documental and anecdotal material, I am still missing a few pieces in my timeline jigsaw puzzle.
Due, I'm sure, to its importance to Waikiki's development, the historic record for the Ala Wai Canal, from which the harbor got its name, is fairly clear.
Before the Ala Wai was created, the nearby Kewalo Basin was dredged and opened to the sea in about 1921. Then a channel was dug from there, past what is now Ala Moana Park, to the Ala Wai Harbor's present location.
The dredging of the Ala Wai Canal began shortly after that in order to drain Waikiki's duck ponds and rice paddies, and to control mosquitoes and the runoff from the surrounding watershed.
The dredged material was then used to fill in the ponds and to create additional elevated property for the construction of a more cosmopolitan Waikiki.
I have seen a chart from that era that indicated there were plans to cut a channel through the near-shore reef, where the canal emptied into the ocean, but apparently it wasn't done at the time of the canal dredging.
As late as 1944, when the Waikiki Yacht Club was established, the only way out to the open sea was through the Kewalo Basin, veteran sailors have often told me.
But now a photo sent to me by a friend and guess-dated at around 1946 or '47 clearly shows a 100-boat marina in the Ala Wai Harbor and channels leading off west to Kewalo Basin and south to the ocean.
It would appear the only logical explanation, if the photo's date is correct, is that the cut in the reef was made around 1945. However, I have yet to find any firm evidence of this, and that is why I would like to ask my readers' kokua.
If you are someone who still remembers the Ala Wai the way it was at the end of World War II and might be able to share with me your photos or other documentation indicating the date of the harbor's opening to the sea, I would be forever grateful.