Aloha Tower is the most recognized building in the state of Hawai‘i, second only to Diamond Head as Hawai‘i’s most famous landmark.
A Welcoming Beacon
When Aloha Tower opened in 1926, the imposing building offered spectacular views of the harbor and housed an observatory and lookout station for harbor pilots. Its lighthouse served as a navigation landmark that could be seen from 15 miles at sea, while its clock was one of the largest in the United States. Once the tallest building in Honolulu, the 87-year-old lighthouse for years served as Honolulu’s “Statue of Liberty,” welcoming hundreds of thousands of immigrants to the island.
Protecting a Landmark
For a period of time during World War II, the U.S. military took control of the tower, painting it in brown and green camouflage and shutting off its beacon to minimize detection. Patrols by Army sentries didn’t end until the camouflage was sandblasted off in 1947; the Aloha Tower reopened in 1948 in its original glory as one solid color.
Today, Aloha Tower continues to serve as a welcoming landmark for kama‘aina and visitors alike. Still a docking port of O‘ahu’s cruise ships, this historic site now includes the Aloha Tower Marketplace, a retail development that has been revitalized by Hawai‘i Pacific University into a vibrant, mixed-use residential, educational, and commercial gathering space designed to serve HPU students, Hawai‘i residents, and visitors from around the world.