Ala Moana turns 50


POSTED: Thursday, August 13, 2009

Donald Graham of the Dillingham Corp. recalled in “;The Ala Moana Center Story”; a meeting with developer Lowell S. Dillingham of Hawaiian Dredging Co., during which Dillingham said he planned to build a shopping center on the 50-acre site in the heart of Honolulu.





        » Place: Ala Moana Centerstage

» Time: 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. today


» Admission: Free


» Entertainment: Taiko drumming, lion dancing, hula. The Brothers Cazimero will sing “;Happy Birthday”; with the arrival of a giant cake.





        » 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.: LEGO master builder Dan Steininger builds 8-foot and 10-foot tall LEGO surfboards designed for the event, at Centerstage.



Graham's response? “;I asked him to explain what a shopping center was.”;

Fifty years later Ala Moana—like so many others across the nation—fills the role of old town squares, spaces where people gather to eat, stroll and watch each other, and Graham will be among those celebrating its 50th birthday tonight.

The center opened as the largest in the United States on Aug. 13, 1959, with 860,000 square feet of retail space and more than 80 merchants.

It remains the largest in the state, having grown to more than 2.1 million square feet with more than 290 stores and restaurants.

The center marks its 50th anniversary with a celebration at 5:30 p.m. today at Centerstage. There will be a blessing and ceremony honoring the 11 original businesses that remain in the mall: Crack Seed Center, Dairy Queen, Foodland, Longs Drugs, Reyn's, Sears, Shirokiya, Slipper House, Territorial Savings Bank, the U.S. Postal Service and Watumull's.

After the ceremony, 1,959 oversize chocolate bars will be distributed, five of which will contain a Golden Ticket that can be redeemed for a $250 Ala Moana Center gift card.

Among the highlights of the celebration are the opening of a special costume exhibition, “;Fifty Years of Fashion in Hawaii,”; featuring more than 50 garments from the Historic Costume Collection at University of Hawaii-Manoa and presented by Hawaii Fashion Incubator.

Garments shown represent several designers and retailers that have set the tone for Hawaii fashion and style over 50 years, including Alfred Shaheen, Miss Hawaii, Kamehameha and Carol & Mary.

The exhibition will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 31 on Level Three of the Nordstrom Wing, in a storefront outside Nordstrom.