Honolulu, by the end of the 19th century, was densely populated. Overcrowding and unsanitary living conditions were of great concern. In part because of the 1900 plague and the Chinatown fire, residents began moving away from the city and into the surrounding valleys, wanting to escape from the overcrowded city into the quiet and serene rural areas.
By 1890, there were already two reservoirs in place in Nuʻuanu Valley, and a third one was under construction. Plans for a fourth reservoir was underway after the 1891 drought, and construction on this reservoir began in 1905. With the area’s water system development, it supported the lifestyles of those living in the valley area. This area was one of the first on O‘ahu to be developed as a residential subdivision. It was called the Dowsett Tract, was named after the family that once owned the land.