Chinatown Honolulu

Chinatown is what you would expect; a collection of markets, herbalists, noodle shops, plus some very good flower lei stands.  It may not be as large as what you would find in New York or San Francisco but it is the oldest Chinatown in the United States.

History of Honolulu’s Chinatown

The years, just before the turn of the century (late 1800’s) saw the whaling industry flourish in Hawai’i.  The whaling vessels would arrive in Honolulu Harbor where they would unload their cargo.  These vessels were also carrying an unwanted cargo, rats! Upon docking, the rats would all come ashore and they eventually found their way into Chinatown.  Now, the rats were not that big of a problem, however, the rats were infested with fleas which were carrying bubonic plague.  This caused a serious outbreak of plague in Chinatown.  Most of the rats were in a confined area of three buildings and on January 20, 1900 the fire department did a controlled burn of those buildings in an attempt to rid the area of the infestation.  Problem was, as soon as they had started the burn, the trade winds picked up.  Bottom line of the story is; three days later when they were finally able to stop the fire, all if Chinatown (50 acres and over 6000 homes/buildings) had been destroyed.  Good part of the story; the rats and plague were eliminated!

chinatown lei standsFlower Lei Stands can be found throughout Chinatown.  The lei’s you find here are of very good quality and when compared to the airport, the prices are very reasonable.




maunakea marketMaunakea Market was built in the late 1800’s and was designed to provide a shopping experience while looking back at the history of Chinatown.





chinatown wo fatWo Fat Chopsuey Parlor. Remember the name Wo Fat from the television series Hawaii Five-O?  He was the heavy set, bald, Chinese man who was the villain in many episodes.  This restaurant, on the second floor, is where the character name came from.

Chinatown Conclusion

This has been our look at Chinatown and some of the points of interest in Chinatown.  Next, we’ll visit Aloha Tower in Honolulu.