History

hawaii harbor
Located on busy Honolulu Harbor in downtown Honolulu, Aloha Tower is an iconic symbol of Hawaiʻi and one of the most recognizable landmarks in the state.

A WELCOMING BEACON

Completed in 1926 and standing at 184-feet tall, Aloha Tower was the tallest building on the island for four decades, offering spectacular views of the harbor with its top floor housing 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. The tower stood as a welcoming beacon for visitors when travel to Oʻahu was done entirely by sea, the "ALOHA" etched on its walls greeting thousands of ship passengers entering Honolulu Harbor. 

BOAT DAYS

In the days before air travel, all visitors to Hawaiʻi arrived by sailing ships until the first steamship arrived in the islands as early as the 1840s. "Steamer Days" or "Boat Days" celebrated the arrival of ships into Honolulu Harbor, gathering large crowds comprising of those welcoming passengers, curious onlookers and enterprising lei sellers. Entertainment was often provided by the Royal Hawaiian Band and hula dancers, with the tradition continuing until the arrival of the jet plane in the 1950s. 

PROTECTING A LANDMARK

Following the Japanese attach on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Aloha Tower was placed under the control of the United States Navy who restricted public access, shut off its beacon and painted the once white building camouflage to minimize dectection. As a control center for American military convoys in the Pacific, a high level of security was implemented with patrols by Army sentries continuing until 1947, when the camouflage paint was sandblasted off and the building returned to civilian control. 

REVITALIZED ICON

Today, Aloha Tower, is home to Hawaiʻi Department of Transporation Habors Division's harbor operators and continues to serve as a welcoming landmark for kamaʻaina and visitors alike. Piers 10 & 11 are still one of Oʻahu's docking ports for  cruise ships. Additionally, this historic place has also transformed into the revitalized Aloha Tower Marketplace; a mixed-use space featuring a variety of eateries, activities and community gathering spaces. You can also still visit the observation deck located on the 10th floor of Aloha Tower. It is the perfect spot to take in the beautiful view of the harbor on one side and the cityscape of Honolulu on the other. The observation deck is open daily from 9:00am - 5:00pm (weather-permitting) and is free-of-charge to access. 

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