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Saturday, September 30, 2017

AN ASTONISHING KAKAAKO RENAISSANCE

This past week, 15 Craigside had a holo-holo outing to Kakaako, where I spent the first 16 years of my life.  I was born 77 years ago at Queen's hospital, went to Pohukaina Elementary, Central Intermediate and McKinley High.  Never left the state until I went on to Stanford.

Maybe back in 1927 of the below map, but my Kakaako days were not the dangerous neighborhood for which we have a reputation.

Pohukaina Elementary School was moved to Kaimuki, but, interestingly enough, the grounds on which the school first stood was targeted for the tallest building in Hawaii, 650 feet, or 250 feet beyond the First Hawaiian building.  However, the latest design lowered the height and inserted the first vertical school in the state, an elementary school...perhaps to again be named Pohukaina.

So, anyway, our 15 Craigside outing was disappointing, for we just drove around looking at all those new sky rises.


I was thus inspired to return for a walking tour.  Yesterday, first started with lunch:


Anyone with any sense of logic and appreciation for high cuisine would recognize that this must have been The Pig and the Lady in downtown Honolulu, which is one edge of old Kakaako:


I ordered their special for the day, Oxtail Pho...except that the oxtail was ham hock, plus those delicious Vietnamese rice noodles and an egg:


I sat in front of the dessert bar:


I ordered their custard coffee, which took forever to make, and was worth the wait.  That intern above comes from the University of Hawaii's Culinary Institute of the Pacific.  There was standing room only when I left for my walk through Kakaako.

Let me start prosaically with the statement that everything has changed.  There was only one home left standing that sort of looked like where I lived, except mine was a duplex, as was most in those days:

It occurred to me that this looked exactly like where my wife Pearl lived in Hilo, so this basic architectural design must have dotted the entire state.  Across the street was Red and White Kamaboko, which now is something else.

That dog looked awfully dangerous, which reminded me of my dog.  I must have thought once about becoming a dentist.
I might add that Kakaako now has dog stations. 

Kewalo Theater is still there, but is no longer showing films.  Across the street is Tsukenjo Take-out, which now has been there for three quarters of a century.  I still remember her name, Geraldine Tsukenjo, who was one of my classmates.

I grew up a couple blocks from Kewalo Theater on Ahui Street.  This is the street that ends up where there was once an incinerator, but now is home to places like 53 by the Sea, near the University of Hawaii's Medical School.

Can't I can't forget the address, 524A Ahui Street, which is now covered by warehouses.  

From the other end.  A shame. A neighborhood once with fruit trees, pigeon coops and character.

These were once "camps,"  mostly with Japanese names (see old map above).  There were walking lanes which dissected the camps, and duplex across from where I lived produced Shiro Amioka, who became Superintendent of the Department of Education in Hawaii, and a block away was the Matsuda Saimin stand, from where came Fujio Matsuda (to my right), former President of the University of Hawaii.

A block and a half away was Mother Waldron Park.  Still there.


Next door is where that new building with elementary school will be built.  I noticed, though, at this point how artsy Kakaako looked.  I was planning to show a couple of masterpieces, and wondered how long this posting could be, so here are most of what I photographed:


Well, I guess maybe there is no limit to the length of blog postings, so let me continue with, first, just about the only photo I took on the 15C ride through Kakaako, which was of the site where that new building/school will be located, followed by adjacent artworks, starting with a wall (which means many of these creations will soon be torn down--so go NOW) showing evidence of homelessness (not today much of a problem with enactions of clean-up laws), scene of this area now becoming a tourist attraction and ending back at Mother Waldron Park:


A block away from where I grew up, along the construction walls, are fifteen or so pieces of artwork of the kind you see in museums, and I show only one:


This is the greatest exhibition of outdoor art I've ever seen.  Not only, then, is there a Kakaako Renaissance of Skyrises, but, amazingly enough, a breathtaking assortment of creations that have elevated my once almost-slum into an outdoor museum of art.  And this neighborhood is as safe as Ala Moana Shopping Center, if you don't count that rotweiller and a few with temporary outdoor homes.  If you find any interest in this sort of thing, I repeat, go now, because many of these treasures will someday soon not be preserved as successfully as Robert Wayland (left) prevailed over Hawaiian Airlines.

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