Downtown

Downtown


Located within the Chinatown Historic District, Chinatown is a 15 block ethnic neighborhood bordering Honolulu‘s financial district. It’s the oldest Chinatown in the United States dating from the 1850’s. The area is west of Nuuanu Avenue between Ala Moana and Vineyard Blvds.

Honolulu’s Chinatown was twice razed by fire, in 1886 and fourteen years later. The 1900 fire was set to burn down homes infected by bubonic plague but a gust of wind took a controlled burn to an out-of-control conflagration that destroyed 40 acres. There is the lingering suspicion that this was no accident, that Chinese merchants were becoming too powerful and there was a plot to drive them out of their prime real estate holdings. But a new Chinatown rose from the ashes.

The phoenix is still in the process of rising today. Revitalization projects have resulted in new restaurants and bars, antique stores, and specialty boutiques among the Chinese herbalists and flower shops.

Chinatown is the best place to buy leis in Honolulu. Lavish leis are made on the spot and the prices are the best on the island. It’s worth the time to check out the beautiful and intoxicating scents of leis in many of the shops before deciding on one. Chinatown is a neighborhood that loves to celebrate. “Night in Chinatown” is an annual street festival that kicks off Chinese New Year with arts and crafts, food, music, and dancing on Mauakea Street from Beretania to King Street. The Narcissus Festival is the oldest ethnic festival in Hawaii, beginning in 1950 to celebrate Chinese culture and commemorate the Chinese lunar New Year. In the summer, crews of 16 paddlers, a drummer, a flag catcher and a steersman race in canoes with dragon heads.

There are stunning galleries housed in renovated Chinatown buildings but the official arts district is on the edge of Chinatown in a 12 block area bordered by Bethel and Smith Streets and Nimitz and Beretania Streets. “First Friday” in Chinatown is a monthly celebration of the arts, on the first Friday of every month, an evening of art and nightlife that attracts locals and visitors to its diverse, festive atmosphere.




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