Monday, March 9, 2009

Honolulu Downtown

click on photos to enlarge!Honolulu Hale (Hah-lay) "City Hall"
"Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration."

Downtown Honolulu, to the right of photo above
(State Capitol in foreground)

"Where we love is home,Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts."Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Kamehameha IV & Queen Emma 1859

"He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home." Goethe

"Home, the spot of earth supremely blest,A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest." Robert Montgomery

Did you know that our Hawaii State Archives contains several letters signed by President Abraham Lincoln? In one dated February 2, 1864 the US president offers condolences to Kamehameha V from “Your Majesties Good Friend.” This year we celebrate Lincoln’s 200th birthday. What would the “Great Emancipator” think of a Hawaii-born man of color ascending to his office, being sworn in on Lincoln’s own bible, and the Kingdom of Hawaii a US state? It boggles my mind! Incidentally, when Hawaii became a U.S. Territory the grand pooh bahs in Washington sent along a seemingly innocuous order that our archives be sent east immediately. Fortunately, quiet resistance garbed in governmental inertia prevailed so scholars and nosey types can read, touch, and smell historical documents and objects right here in Honolulu. Throw in all the historical buildings (including America’s only Royal Palace and oldest Chinatown) and it’s easy to see why Congress may name Downtown Honolulu a National Heritage area later this year. The nation’s 41st such designated area might even be announced in time for the 50th observance of Hawaii statehood on August 21st. In my dear downtown, ancient shades of Hawaiians and their gods prowl the shadows of night alongside gallery hoppers and chic nightlife habitu├ęs. Sacred rocks (Pohaku) lie beside ballast stones that traveled here in the hulls of sailing ships that carried away the last of our sandalwood trees. (Though Chinese immigrants continued to call our islands the “Sandalwood Mountain.” America: the “Gold Mountain.”). A king’s carriage way is now a high tech fiber optic channel. Torches have morphed into streetlights, Kahuna Kapu (taboos) all replaced by the Hawaii Revised Statutes. But on moonlit nights the old power and perfumes remain. The chiefs and chiefesses of old still love to laugh beneath the huddled mountains. Can you hear them whispering?

A L O H A! Cloudia