1959 to 1969


POSTED: Monday, August 17, 2009


March 12: Congress passes a bill approving Hawaii's admission into the United States. Margaret Oshiro holds the Star-Bulletin's famous red and blue edition on March 12, 1959.

Aug. 3: Ala Moana Shopping Center opens. The mall had 87 stores, 4,000 parking stalls and covered 50 acres, making it the largest shopping center in the world at the time.

Aug. 21: President Eisenhower signs the Statehood Proclamation, admitting Hawaii officially as the 50th state. William Quinn becomes the first state governor, and Daniel Inouye is elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, the first Japanese-American to serve in Congress. Hawaii's senators are Oren E. Long and Hiram Fong, the first Chinese-American to serve in the Senate.



May 22: An earthquake in Chile generates a 36-foot tsunami that hits Hilo 15 hours later, killing 61 people.

July: The East-West Center is established at the University of Hawaii to “;strengthen understanding and relations between the United States and the countries of the Asia Pacific region.”;



Aug. 1: The Pali Highway opens with the four-tunnel configuration that exists today. The highway previously consisted of the two Honolulu-bound tunnels only.

November: Businessman Chinn Ho and a group of investors buy the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, and Ho becomes the first Asian to be principal owner of a major daily newspaper.



May 31: The USS Arizona Memorial is dedicated at Pearl Harbor; it is positioned directly over the wreck of the Battleship Arizona, sunk Dec. 7, 1941, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

July 9: A nuclear bomb is detonated 800 miles from Hawaii at Johnston Island, lighting up the Hawaiian night sky. The 1962 nuclear blast turns night into day in Waikiki.

Nov. 7: Democrat John A. Burns is elected governor of Hawaii. His victory marks the first time local Democrats control both the executive and legislative branches of the state's government.



July 9: President John F. Kennedy, speaking at the National Conference of Mayors in Honolulu, urges attendees to help calm the civil rights crisis.

Oct. 12: The Polynesian Cultural Center opens in Laie. The park, operated by the Mormon Church, becomes one of the most popular attractions in Hawaii.



March 7: The Honolulu International Center opens. It comprises a sports arena complex, exhibit hall and auditorium. The site is renamed the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in 1976, in honor of the Honolulu mayor.

March 27: One of the largest earthquakes ever recorded in North America occurs in Alaska. It registers a magnitude of 8.4 on the Richter scale and generates tsunami waves that cause flooding in Kahului, Maui and Hilo.

May 3: Sea Like Park opens. It features dolphins, penguins, sea lions and wholphins—a combination of false killer whale an dolphin.



Jan. 19: NASA astronauts begin training at Volcano National Park, using lava fields to simulate walking on the moon.

Feb. 6: The military attempts to gauge the effect of a nuclear blast on coastal ships by setting off 500 pounds of TNT on Kahoolawe.

Nov. 7: The first Hawaii open golf tournament is held at the Waialae Country Club. First prize winner Gay Brewer Jr. takes home $9,000.



Oct. 26: The “;Lani Bird”; satellite, officially known as Intelsat-II, is launched, allowing island residents for the first time to see real-time broadcasts of television shows from the U.S. mainland.

Nov. 7: William S. Richardson is appointed chief justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court by Gov. John Burns. Holding the post until 1982, he leads an activist court that significantly expands native Hawaiian rights as well as public access to beaches and state waters.



June 24: The Hawaii Land Reform Act becomes law. It paves the way for the breakup of large private land holdings, making it possible for lessees to buy the land under their homes. At the time, 72 private landowners held 47 percent of all the land in Hawaii, with the federal and state governments owning another 49 percent.

Dec. 31: The state's annual visitor count exceeds 1 million people for the first time.



Jan. 22: Duke Kahanamoku, 1912 Olympic swimming champion, movie star and Hawaii's official “;Ambassador of Aloha,”; dies at the age of 73. Thousands attend in his “;beachboy”; funeral ceremony.

Nov. 5: Frank F. Fasi is elected mayor of Honolulu, beginning the first of six terms, a reign interrupted briefly in 1980 when he lost to Eileen Anderson.



March 15: Gov. John Burns dedicates the new $28 million state Capitol building in Honolulu.

April 15: Statues of King Kamehameha I and Father Damien are placed in National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. alongside other national heroes.

July 26: The Apollo 11 Columbia 3 space capsule splashes down in the Pacific Ocean after returning from man's first visit to the moon. The astronauts are picked up by the carrier USS Hornet and brought to Ford Island for three days before being flown to Houston with the space capsule.