As Honolulu developed and grew, lots of changes happened, including along its waterfront. What is now known as Queen Street was actually the water’s edge.
The reef belonging to the land of Waikahalulu, on the south side of Honolulu Harbor, had been purchased by the government from the Queen Dowager Kalama.
Then, from 1856 to 1860, the work of filling in the land to create an area known as the “Esplanade” or “Ainahou,” and building up a water-front and dredging the harbor to a depth from 20 to 25-feet took place.
Following the demolition of Fort Kekuanohu (Fort Honolulu) in 1857; its walls became the 2,000-foot retaining wall used to extend the land out onto the shallow reef in the harbor.
The remaining fort materials were used as fill to create what came to be known as the Esplanade (it’s where Aloha Tower and surrounding land now stand.)
Between 1857 and 1870, 22-acres of reef land were added to the downtown area between Fort Street and Alakea Street; it was filled in with material dredged from the harbor.
The old prison was built in 1856-57, to take the place of the old fort (that also previously served as a prison.) The new custom-house was completed in 1860. The water-works were much enlarged, and a system of pipes laid down in 1861.
An 1887 Hawaiian Government Survey map of Honolulu shows continued urban expansion of the Downtown Honolulu area.
Many dredging and filling operations soon followed, and the 1890s and 1900s saw the construction of many new piers and channels in the harbor, the dredged material going to create new dry land areas.
The dredging of Honolulu Harbor and expansion of the Esplanade soon followed; major alteration of Honolulu from its natural configuration began in 1890 with the dredging of the main channel to 200 ft width by 30 ft deep for about 1000 ft through the sand bar at the entrance.
Piers were constructed at the base of Richards Street in 1896, at the site of Piers 17 and 18 in 1901 to accommodate sugar loading and at Piers 7 and 12 in 1907.
Further dredging was conducted at the base of Alakea Street in 1906.
Yes, lots of changes.
The image shows Honolulu in 1854, in a drawing done by Paul Emmert. It shows Honolulu just before these changes and the expansion of land in the downtown area (you can see people standing on the reef on the right.)
In addition, I have included images and maps of this region in this relative timeframe (mid-1850s to 1900) in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.