Downtown as a Neighborhood

Where? Overview

link to USGS map piece

The area is covered on maps 6, 11 and DTW-1 & 2 in Bryan's Sectional Maps. This aerial photograph (800x600) from the City and County's GIS website shows the area.

On the photo you can see the abrupt break in the highrise built environment at Richards Street, Nuuanuu Avenue, and Beretania Street.

Historic Development

Cptn. Wm. Brown - shown harbor in 1792

Kamehameha moved his retinue to Pakaka Point in 1809.

Russians begin a fort, John Young finishes it 1816. It is razed in 1857.

Historic development in maps: Rockwood from Ii Pre-Fort map, 1817 Golovin map, 1843 streets , USGS 1938 map piece .

Principal Features and Character

The principal distinguishing feature of the Downtown CBD are the tall office buildings and the number of businesses that they house, close to both the seat of government and the harbor.

Downtown Honolulu is surprisingly pleasant and walkable for a business district. The density of highrise offices is notable at a distance, but in the streets a fair amount of greenery and of human-scaled architecture softens the impact. Some of the highrise development has been planned to use small building footprints, wide set-backs, and increased building height to provide both floor space in the buildings and open space at the street level. There are a few places where the 'urban canyon' landscape notion may be conjured-up, but it doesn't dominate. The mix of Kingdom-era and Territorial era buildings contributes to a walkable human scale place in Downtown Honolulu.

Some Landmarks

Aloha Tower. Kamehameha V Post Office, HECO Building, HECO power plant. Alexander & Baldwin Building, C. Brewer Building, AmFac Towers -> Topa Financial Center Dillingham Transportation Building, Castle and Cooke. Yokohama Specie Bank. Our Lady of Peace Cathedral, Armed Services YMCA, Julia Morgan's YWCA. First Hawaiian Center at almost 430 feet is the tallest building in the state. The Stangenwald Building's six floors were sufficient in (1901) to make this Hawaii's first skyscraper.

The Name That Building Game

Mouse-over the buildings to see their names (in the navigation bar). Topa Fin. Plaza West Tower Topa Fin. Plaza East/Bishop St Tower

Please. Let me know if you find errors in here. Many eyes makes debugging image maps easier. Thanks. -Matt
buildings list

Activities and Uses

This is the heart of business in the State, the City and arguably the region. Consider the following table showing the number of firms in seveal categories with Downtown zipcodes (96813) and with other zipcodes. These were extracted from the 2001 Pacific Business News Book of Lists.
Category 96813 other zipcode
31 Largest Employers 11 20
50 Fastest Growing Companies 6 44
25 Highest Paid Executives 22 3
17 Stock Brokers 15 2
20 Largest CPA Firms 15 5
11 Largest Depository Financial Inst. 9 2
5 Largest Non-Depository Fin. Inst. 3 2
25 Largest Trusts/Foundations 6 (+ 14 with PO Boxes here) 5
14 Largest Domestic Insurance Firms 10 4
20 Largest Law Firms 20 0

The table indicates that these few blocks of space hold a disproportionate share of the business community.

Census Profiles

C&C Neighborhood Statistics ...

Census Tract 40 quite cleaning coincides with the downtown area. the table below will facilitate some comparisons with census tracts in Moiliili (#25?), Kaimuki (#14), Makiki (#33). Look at the range of incomes and the ethnic composition of these tracts representings these neighborhoods.

Table link


Come to class and checkout the Holoholo Assignment.