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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, June 24, 2001

Our Honolulu
Making sense of our streets

By Bob Krauss
Advertiser Staff Writer

Streets have personalities just as people do. For example, Ke'eaumoku Street suffers from schizophrenia.

Up mauka, it's a respectable residential neighborhood. Below the freeway, Ke'eaumoku Street turns into a site for shopkeepers. Suddenly, after King Street, a dark side emerges — seedy hostess bars.

But an abrupt switch takes place again at Ala Moana Center, home of swank showrooms for elegant boutiques. Talk about a split personality.

Nobody has ever complied a handy list of street characteristics for Our Honolulu, so I'm taking the liberty of filling this need. Feel free to defend your street, of course. Let's start with the easy ones.

• MOST HISTORIC: I think the nod goes to King Street, whose passing parade includes 'Iolani Palace, Ali'iolani Hale, Kamehameha's statue, KawaiaHa'o Church and the Mission Houses.

• MOST FAMOUS: Kalakaua Avenue has to be the most famous street in town, even if visitors can't pronounce it. More people from all over the world have been up and down Kalakaua than any other roadway in Honolulu.

• MOST INFAMOUS: You probably don't remember the Massie Case, an alleged rape of a Navy wife in 1932 that gave Hawai'i a black eye all over the nation. It happened on Ala Moana, at what was then a garbage dump about where Magic Island is now.

• STEEPEST: If you know of a steeper street than Wilhelmina Rise, give me a call. The area used to be called Telegraph Hill, I think, because ship arrivals were signaled by semaphore from there to the post office downtown.

• MOST DIGNIFIED: This is a tough decision. Stately high-rise office buildings and what's left of the old colonial look make Bishop Street downtown a candidate. But the University of Hawai'i's president's mansion does the same for McKinley Avenue in Manoa, among the splendor of old kama'aina palaces.

• MOST PRETENTIOUS: Kahala Avenue wins, hands down. What was an example of island taste and charm has turned into a boring competition of who can throw the most money behind walls.

• MOST CHANGED: My choice is South Street in Kaka'ako. The only thing that has stayed about the same is the News Building. What was once the tin-roofed Honolulu Iron Works is now upscale Restaurant Row. High-rises have replaced blacksmith shops and mom and pop stores.

• LEAST CHANGED: James Jones, who wrote "From Here to Eternity" after World War II, would still recognize Foote Street, the main thoroughfare into Schofield Barracks, although the spit and polish has mellowed and the trees have grown.

• MOST HAWAIIAN: Krauss Street in Papakolea is as good as any. Turn left off Puowaina Drive when you see a yellow boat in a front yard. Look for plumeria trees and people in tank tops gossiping on the lawn.