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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, December 24, 2001

Security concerns keep Aloha Tower closed to public

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

One by one, landmarks and historic sites around the country have reopened amid heightened security since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The four observation decks in the 10-story, 184-foot-tall Aloha Tower used to get 5,000 visitors a week. The landmark is the last one in state affected by fears of terrorism.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

From the USS Missouri Memorial at Pearl Harbor to Congress, all have stepped up safety and begun welcoming back the public.

But in Hawai'i, security issues continue to keep one landmark off limits.

The 10-story Aloha Tower at Honolulu Harbor, once visited by an estimated 5,000 people a week, is the only visitor attraction in the state yet to reopen because of security concerns, say tourism leaders.

A spokeswoman with the state Transportation Department, which maintains the tower, could not say when the public would be allowed back into the tower's four observation decks, or what security issues prevent a reopening.

Managers at Aloha Tower Marketplace, which typically offers free guided tours of the landmark that rises out of the retail center, say the attraction has been missed.

"Aloha Tower is the second-most-recognizable Hawai'i landmark (next to Diamond Head), and it certainly is a draw for us," said Scott Creel, regional marketing director for the festival marketplace. "We'd like to see it open again."

First opened in 1926, the 184-foot tower was once the tallest building on O'ahu.

The structure has been closed only three other times: during World War II, when the marketplace was built in the early 1990s and a few years ago for renovation.