Our History

Kaka‘ako has a rich history steeped in Native Hawaiian values, entrepreneurship, industry and cultural diversity. This area was once comprised of fishing villages, fishponds and salt ponds. To Hawaiians, pa‘akai (salt) was valued like gold for its uses as a seasoning, preservative, medicine and ceremonial purifier.

In the 1800s, residential construction began and diverse immigrant camps emerged. Kaka‘ako’s industrial roots started with the establishment of the Honolulu Iron Works, a metal foundry and machine shop. Small stores, churches, schools and parks were built, including Pohukaina School which sat next to Mother Waldron Park. Kaka‘ako grew and became a community built on a strong blue-collar work ethic, social activism and a sense of ‘ohana (family).

In the mid-1900s, the zoning laws for Kaka‘ako changed from residential to commercial. Small businesses and entrepreneurship grew as wholesaling, warehousing and other industrial businesses established themselves in the district – leading to the urban Kaka‘ako we are familiar with today.

The evolution of Kaka‘ako continues. On the streets of Auahi, Keawe and Coral, where colorful murals greet residents and visitors alike, a dynamic urban village is flourishing, built on the hard-working, entrepreneurial spirit of today’s small business owners. Local shops, restaurants, creative studio workspaces, and gathering places serve as a catalyst for exciting new ideas and innovation.

Rooted in the historical and cultural values of the generations who have come before, Our Kaka‘ako continues to honor the spirit of the past while looking ahead to the future. Come discover why so many residents and businesses call this special community home.