Chinatown dates back to the 19th century,when Chinese moved here after working in the sugar plantations on Hawaii..
Covering about four blocs in downtown Honolulu the area is rather small. Walk up and down the two main roads and you have seen most attractions within 45 minutes. Once I went in the early morning to pick up the “Chinese market” atmosphere, but this was no comparison to any markets one knows from South or East Asia.
Chinatown was destroyed by a huge fire in 1900. All of the old buildings were constructed afterwards. But they still give the area a distinctive character, contrasting the high rise buildings right next to Chinatown.
Here are a few examples:
The Mendonca Building is a two-story, Italianate-style block with dramatic window surrounds and a striking projecting cornice, topped with a barrel-tiled parapet. Constructed of brick with a stucco facing, the block shows obvious stylistic affinities with the Renaissance Revival, which might be considered a “sub-set” of the Italianate Style. A prominent sign over the chamfered Mauka-Diamond Head corner gives the name of the original owner and builder, Jos. P. Mendonca, for Joseph Paul Mendonca (1847-1927), a prominent local entrepreneur and landowner of Portuguese descent.(more details on http://chinatownhonolulu.org/50/maunakea-street-buildings; this interesting website covers a lot of buildings which are dating back to the 1880´s, but are not located in central Chinatown).
The Lah Leong Building belonged to another tycoon, I did not find details much about the Siu-building.
A few buildings from the postwar period are also interesting as the pick up elements of the Bauhaus-style.
Over many years Chinatown was deteriorating and became the red light district of Honolulu. Some corners still leave you with this impression.
Today the City Government tries to revitalize Chinatown. Development of an artist center is part of the plan. Dominant today are a lot of homeless people which are, according to newspapers, are a growing concern to the local business community. I close the blog without further comments on their state of being.