Lēʻahi Hospital

Can you imagine how you would feel if you or a loved one was admitted into the “Honolulu Home for Incurables?” The “destitute and incurables” were transported to such in Kakaʻako for a while until a new place could be found.

Subscribers were solicited for a new hospital; Kaimuki was selected. At about that time, Kaimuki was destined for growing development. Originally charted in 1901 as the Honolulu Home for Incurables, its name was changed to the “Lēʻahi Home” in 1906. In 1942 the word “Hospital” was substituted for the word “Home.”

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“Dream City”

In 1949, Alexander & Baldwin formed Kahului Development Co., Ltd. (KDCo) (the predecessor of A&B Properties, Inc.) to serve as a development arm of the agricultural-based entity. This timing coincided with the sugar company’s plan to close down some plantation camps. To provide for housing for its sugar workers, as well as meet post-WWII housing demand, KDCo announced a new residential development in Central Maui, in the area we now refer to as Kahului.

“Dream City,” a planned residential community was launched and over the next couple decades 3,500+ fee simple homes were offered for sale in 14-increments of the new development. Kahului quickly became one of the first and most successful planned towns west of the Rockies – and the first in Hawai‘i. The first homes were built along each side of Puʻunene Avenue. The average price of these homes was $7,250 each. At its peak, it was reported, houses and lots were being sold every two minutes.

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Historic Curbs and Sidewalks

As early as 1838, sidewalks along Honolulu streets were constructed, usually of wood. Paved streets were unknown until 1881; in that year, the first, Fort Street, was paved. The first sidewalk made of brick was laid down in 1857 fronting a shop on Merchant Street; Hawaii’s first concrete sidewalk was poured in front of a store on Queen Street in 1886. From 1889 to 1949, Mōʻiliʻili Quarry provided the stone that was used to build Honolulu’s streets, sidewalks and curbstones, as well as some of its prominent buildings.

In the mid- to late-19th century, sailing vessels from China or the continent bound for Honolulu to pick up sandalwood or sugar cane would fill their holds with granite as ballast (it added stability to the sailing vessels and weren’t needed when loaded with heavy cargo.) As more and more ships dumped their granite ballast on the docks, someone came up with the idea to use them for sidewalks. These blocks are scattered throughout Chinatown, and many were used in the construction of a few buildings. Later, concrete sidewalks were constructed throughout the city, as far out as Thomas Square.

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These posts are part of a personal learning experience; I have been searching to learn more about the place I and my family were born, raised, and live (and love) – then, share what I have learned.

Because of my Planning work across the Islands, as well as previously serving as Director of the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, State Historic Preservation Officer and Deputy Managing Director for Hawaiʻi County, I have had the opportunity to see some places and deal with some issues that many others have not had, nor will have, the same opportunity.

So, I am sharing some insights, events and places with others. These informal historic summaries are presented for personal, non-commercial and/or educational purposes. I hope you enjoy them. Thanks, Peter.

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