Holoholo Honolulu

Efficient design and perfect
location define market

It's the way of business that those with a better idea generally prosper, and that idea is location, location and location. At the turn of the century, meat, fish and vegetables were primarily sold in the government-owned "Public Market" at the wellspring of Alakea Street -- where Hawaiian Electric's big, square plant now resides -- and only a short distance from the new skyscrapers of Merchant Street.

Chinese entrepreneur Tuck Young, however, thought that a better location was closer to the Asian community of Chinatown, and in 1904 constructed an efficient open-air market building called simply Oahu Market. Coupled with the smaller City Market only a block away, Honolulu's food-shopping population shifted Ewa almost overnight.

There was a Caucasian wail as mostly white-owned businesses at the Public Market evaporated. The Pacific Commercial Advertiser even editorialized that the new markets, located in Chinatown, were unhealthy because "waste water from Chinese and Japanese barber shops, restaurants and stores is most generally thrown into the street ..."

The paper called upon Japanese fishermen to sever ties with Chinese fish sellers and set up their own shops in the government market. This was attempted, but the highly organized Chinese prevailed.

The building today is much as it was then, with completely invisible, absolutely functional architecture. No one looks at the building when there's all that fresh food on the stands. It is a mix of coral block and brick on a stone foundation, with a wooden roof, and a plaster-board ceiling. The interior is divided, like a suburb, into blocks of stalls, the whole is wide open to the street. The stone floor makes it easy to clean -- just hose it down.


Oahu Market

Opened: 1904
Architect: Unknown
Style: 20th Century Commercial
Address: King and Kekaulike streets
National Register: 1973 (District #73000658)
Hawaii Register: No

Oahu Market, which opened in 1904, presents an example of invisible architecture.

To this day, Oahu Market is an efficient and functional gathering place for food vendors, tourists and home cooks.

Quicktime VR Panorama
Click on pictures to view panaromas


Every Sunday in the Star-Bulletin Travel section, rediscover the charms of old Hawaii through a tour created by the Honolulu Historic Trail Committee and Historic Hawai'i Foundation and supported by the city's Office of Economic Development. The yearlong project commemorates Honolulu's bicentennial.


See Honolulu City Highlights

Various Honolulu historical organizations have clamored for years to have some sort of survey created of downtown Honolulu's historical sites. The mayor's Office of Economic Development stepped in last year to create order, and 50 locations were chosen as representative of Honolulu's history.

There is, of course, far more history in Honolulu's streets than indicated here, but these sites give the high points and can be visited on a walking tour lasting about three hours.

Click to view enlarged map

To commemorate Honolulu's bicentennial, the Star-Bulletin kicks off "Holoholo Honolulu" today, a year-long project to examine these historic properties. For the next 50 Sundays in the Travel section, stories and photographs will illuminate these sites.

But that's just the tip of the architectural iceberg. Viewers can step right into these locations via the magic of QuickTime Virtual Reality, a computer process that allows visitors from around the world to feel as if they're standing right there on the street.

WE'RE ALSO looking for old photographs of these sites to scan for public use. If you have anything, let us know:

Write to:
Honolulu Star-Bulletin
7-210 Waterfront Plaza
500 Ala Moana
Honolulu, HI 96813.



E-mail to Features Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Calendars]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --