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Also since ancient times, Waikiki served as a residence and retreat for Hawaiian royalty. During the period of the Hawaiian Monarchy, from Kamehameha the Great to Princess Ka'iulani, the Ali'i surfed its gentle waves, paddled outrigger canoes, or simply relaxed along this magnificent coastline. Waikiki was their playground - an oasis and escape from the political intrigues of the port of Honolulu.
By 1900, Hawaii had become a Territory of the United States and the early decades of the 20th century brought sweeping and dramatic changes to Waikiki. The Great Mahele of a half century earlier had eradicated the ancient system of land tenure as land was surveyed, parceled out, purchased and sold. Under the leadership of the Waikiki Reclamation Commission, roads and businesses rapidly began to replace the rural landscape. The Moana Surfrider Hotel opened as Waikiki's first resort in 1901. Other sophisticated hotels soon followed, including the Royal Hawaiian, giving rise to a burgeoning visitor industry.
Then in 1921, a controversial waterworks project commenced in Waikiki and by1928, dredging had been completed for the Ala Wai Canal. Now, the life-giving waters were redirected and channelized, the ancient taro fields and fishponds were drained, and the expansive wetland became a thing of the past. Dredge spoil was used on both sides of the canal to reclaim hundreds upon hundreds of acres of land, opening Waikiki and the surrounding area to massive urbanization and development.
However, Waikiki remains a place for relaxation and respite, and has become one of the world's most famous travel destinations. Despite its changed landscape, Waikiki's old charm lingers. Reminisce about Waikiki's sentimental history through these images of its yesteryear.