Friday, August 7, 2009

Aloha Tower

My hula class has been dancing to a fun tune called "Aloha Tower," as sung by the Brothers Cazimero. With our hand and arm movements and by making 180-degree turns, we tell the story of the tower, which has a huge clock on each of its four sides and at one time performed duty as a lighthouse.

Aloha Tower opened on Sept. 11, 1926 as sort of the Statue of Liberty of Honolulu, because it was the landmark that cruise ship passengers saw as they arrived. Locals referred to the day that cruise ships arrived as Boat Day and it was a festive occasion. The Royal Hawaiian Band Played, hula dancers danced and there were fragrant leis for all the newcomers. Colorful streamers rained down on the ship and from the decks passengers tossed coins into the water to watch the native boys dive for money.

At 10 stories high, Aloha Tower was the tallest structure in all of the Hawaiian Islands. It held that claim to fame for about 40 years. You can still take the elevator to the 10th floor and step out on to the observation deck, which sits above the four clocks. Each clock weighs 7 tons. Made in Boston, the clocks were among the largest in the United States.

In the early days the Aloha Tower also served as a lighthouse. Its beam was visible 16 miles out to sea.

By the 1960s there were taller buildings in Honolulu and fewer cruise ships, as more travelers chose air travel. Just for fun, here's a clip from the 1939 film, "Honolulu," showing Gracie Allen and Eleanor Powell anticipating fun in Honolulu while on their cruise to Hawaii.

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