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History of Ala Moana Park

Information about the history of Ala Moana Park in Honolulu from the early 1900's to the present day.

Ala Moana Park History
Copyright © Kathleen Walling Fry

Ala Moana Park - Historic Timeline


Walter Dillingham of Hawaiian Dredging bought 50 acres of swampy Honolulu land for $25,000 in 1912 because he needed a place to dump the dirt and coral from his dredging projects.

A channel was dredged through a coral reef in order to connect the Ala Wai Boat Harbor and the Kewalo Basin so boats could travel between the two. When Ala Moana became a very popular swimming beach, the channel was closed to boat traffic.

The City and County of Honolulu started cleaning up the Ala Moana area in 1931. They planned to use funds provided by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal Project to create a city park in the Ala Moana area. Originally the park was suppose to include a pier, Chinese, Hawaiian, and Japanese cultural areas, and a large outdoor amphitheater.

President Roosevelt himself dedicated the new 76 acre park in 1934 as "Moana Park".

The name of the park was changed from Moana Park to Ala Moana Park in 1947

Walter Dillingham's son Lowell Dillingham announced his plan to build a large shopping complex across the street from Ala Moana Park.

The west end of the channel in front of the park was physically closed in 1955 by a landfill project that was part of the Kewalo Basin State Park project. Sand was brought in from the west coast of Oahu to create a beach area in Ala Moana Park.

Ala Moana Shopping Center opened across the street from Ala Moana Park in 1959 with 87 stores filling 680,000 square feet on two levels. Today Ala Moana Center is more the 2 million square feet in size.

The east end of of the channel in front of Ala Moana Park was closed in the early 1960's and a landfill project added a 30 acre peninsula to Ala Moana Beach Park. That peninsula was called "Magic Island" and it was suppose to be the home of a new resort area that would have included two additional "islands".that project never got off the around and eventually the area became a public park.

The name of Magic Island was officially changed to Aina Moana Park in 1972, which means "land from the sea", but many locals still call it Magic Island.

In March of 2006 the City and County of Honolulu issued a temporary order to close Ala Moana Park from 10:00 pm to 4:00 am every day. The purpose of the closure was to discourage people from camping (or living) inside the park. The nightly closure became permanent in July of 2006. The only exception is on the 3rd of July, when the city allows residents to arrive during the night to reserve a spot 4th of July Independence Day picnics and fireworks.

See also:
- Ala Moana Park
- Ala Moana Beach Park
- Ala Moana Beach
- Magic Island in Ala Moana Park
- Ala Moana Shopping Center
- Ala Moana Hotel
- Marker 18 on the Waikiki Historic Trail

Related Links
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Elsewhere on the Web
City of Honolulu Introduction to Ala Moana Park
Nightly Closure of Ala Moana Park is Permanent

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