July 16th, 2020 / posted by paularath

Streetcars were a popular mode of transportation in 1905 Honolulu.  Photos from Hawaii State Archives

I often wonder what it was like for my grandparents, Ragna Helsher and James Arthur Rath, when they arrived in Honolulu in 1905. So I did a little homework, and here are some random observations regarding that time:

  • The city of Honolulu wasn’t incorporated until July 1, 1905.
  • King Street was a muddy, unpaved road traveled mainly by carriages and ox carts.
  • There were hitching posts for horses on most Honolulu streets.
  • Ala Moana and Waikiki were mainly duck ponds and swamps.

The Moana was one of very few hotels in Waikiki in 1905. Or was it the only Hotel in Waikiki in 1905?

  • Population in the Palama area was mainly Hawaiian and Chinese, but within half a mile of Palama Settlement, nine languages were spoken.
  • There were no shopping centers. Retailing was confined to mom-and-pop shops in an area bounded by Fort, Hotel, King and Nuuanu Streets.

A postcard of Central Union Church circa 1905.

  • Women were covered from head to toe, wearing long-sleeved dresses with bustles.
  • Kapahulu was dairy farms, Manoa was vegetable farms and the area now called Hawaii Kai was pig farms.

No supermarkets existed in Honolulu in 1905, just mom-and-pop shops.

  • There were no bridges across Nuuanu Stream – the only way to cross was on a wooden plank.
  • There were fewer than 100 motor cars in Honolulu.
  • The most common form of transportation was the street-car. Honolulu Rapid Transit & Land Co. reported that nearly seven million passengers traveled by streetcar each year on 23 miles of track.

– Paula Rath



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