Construction of Aloha Tower began in 1924. It was completed in a year and a half and became the landmark of Honolulu.
At 10 stories and 184 feet of height topped with 40 feet of flag mast, for four decades the Aloha Tower was the tallest structure in Hawaii. It was built in the Hawaiian Gothic architectural style.
The 4 clocks, each face 12 feet in diameter (by far the biggest clock in the Territory of Hawai‘i and one of the largest in the United States at the time) and facing different directions, were made of bronze and weighed 7 tons each.
If a ship or person was too far away to read the clock, two other means of time synchronization were provided. A time ball was lowered to the bottom of the forty-foot mast atop the tower each day at noon, and the blast of a siren was sounded at 7 am, noon and 4 pm.
Aloha Tower was built as a control tower for the Honolulu harbormaster and a lighthouse as part of a modern freight and passenger terminal at piers 8, 9 and 10.
In addition, it provided offices for the harbor master, pilots and customs officials. The eleventh floor of the tower served as a lookout for the harbor pilots, with balconies on all four sides.
In the day (pre-1959 trans-Pacific jetliner service,) the method of travel to Hawai‘i was by ship. Aloha Tower welcomed cruise passengers/visitors to the islands.
When the attack on Pearl Harbor came on December 7, 1941, Coast Guardsmen took up defensive positions around Aloha Tower and protected it from being occupied.
The Aloha Tower received little damage during the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but shortly thereafter, it was camouflaged with brown and green paint, and its light was extinguished for the remainder of the war.
Pre- and during WW II, the tower had been secretly a control facility for military convoy shipping for the Pacific Theater of Operations. The military took control of the facility and painted it camouflage to minimize detection.
In 1947, the green camouflage paint was sandblasted from the tower and the brilliant white paint replaced.
By the late 1960s, tall buildings were crowding the tower, and the Coast Guard decided to discontinue the beacon atop the Aloha Tower and install one on a 220-foot television tower.
This navigational aid served until 1975, when the present Honolulu Harbor Light was established on a metal pole at the end of Pier 2.
Owned by the State of Hawai’i, the Aloha Tower was renovated in 1994, at no cost to taxpayers, by the developer of the adjacent Aloha Tower Marketplace.
It was designed by Arthur Reynolds in Art Deco style. It is listed on the State and National Registers because of its association with the development of Hawaii as a tourist destination for travelers from the mainland and for its role as a harbor-control tower during WWII. It is as an example of 1920s Art Deco architecture in Honolulu.
The image is a 1935 postcard of Honolulu Harbor, Downtown Honolulu and Aloha Tower.