Exploring the Rich History of Aloha Tower Marketplace

Aloha Tower Marketplace is a popular tourist destination in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is a bustling hub of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, attracting both locals and visitors alike. But beyond its modern-day charm, this marketplace holds a rich history that dates back to the early 20th century.

The Birth of Aloha Tower

The story of Aloha Tower Marketplace begins in the 1920s when Hawaii was still a US territory. The island's economy was heavily reliant on the sugar and pineapple industries, and the Honolulu Harbor was a crucial port for exporting these goods.

However, the harbor lacked a proper docking facility, causing delays and inefficiencies in trade. In 1921, the Hawaii Merchants Association proposed the construction of a lighthouse and clock tower at the harbor to serve as a welcoming beacon for ships. The project was approved, and construction began in 1924. The tower was designed by architect Arthur Reynolds Jr. and stood at 184 feet tall, making it the tallest building in Hawaii at that time. On September 11, 1926, Aloha Tower was officially opened to the public. It quickly became an iconic symbol of Hawaii and a popular gathering spot for locals and tourists alike.

The tower's clock, which was synchronized with the US Naval Observatory in Washington D. C., became known as the "Big Ben of Hawaii."

Aloha Tower Marketplace Today

As time passed, the role of Aloha Tower as a lighthouse diminished with advancements in technology. In 1964, it was decommissioned as a navigational aid and replaced by an automated light on a nearby pier. The tower fell into disrepair until it was restored in the 1980s and reopened as a marketplace. Today, Aloha Tower Marketplace is a vibrant shopping and entertainment complex that pays homage to its past.

The original tower still stands tall, and visitors can take an elevator to the observation deck for stunning views of the harbor and the city skyline. The clock still chimes every 15 minutes, and the tower's exterior is adorned with beautiful murals depicting Hawaii's history and culture. The marketplace is home to over 60 shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, making it a one-stop destination for all your needs. You can find everything from souvenirs and local crafts to high-end fashion and jewelry. The marketplace also hosts regular events, including live music performances, cultural festivals, and food fairs.

Historical Landmarks at Aloha Tower Marketplace

While the entire marketplace is steeped in history, there are a few notable landmarks that are worth exploring during your visit.

Aloha Tower

Of course, the most prominent historical landmark at Aloha Tower Marketplace is the tower itself.

As mentioned earlier, it is the tallest building in Hawaii and offers breathtaking views of the harbor and the city. The observation deck also has a small museum that showcases the tower's history through photographs and artifacts.

Aloha Tower Marketplace Clock

The clock on Aloha Tower is another significant landmark that has been keeping time for over 90 years. It was manufactured by the Seth Thomas Clock Company in Connecticut and shipped to Hawaii in 1925. The clock's four faces are made of opal glass, which allows light to pass through, making it visible from miles away.

The Waterfront Plaza

The Waterfront Plaza is a beautiful open-air courtyard located at the center of Aloha Tower Marketplace. It features a large fountain and a bronze statue of a Hawaiian fisherman, paying tribute to the island's fishing heritage.

The plaza is also a popular spot for events and performances.

The Aloha Tower Marketplace Mural

As you walk around the marketplace, you will come across a stunning mural that covers the entire exterior of the tower. It was painted by local artist Robert Dafford and depicts significant events in Hawaii's history, including the arrival of Captain James Cook and the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.


Aloha Tower Marketplace is more than just a shopping and entertainment complex; it is a living piece of Hawaii's history. From its humble beginnings as a lighthouse to its current role as a bustling marketplace, this iconic landmark has stood the test of time and continues to be a beloved destination for both locals and tourists. So, the next time you visit Honolulu, make sure to stop by Aloha Tower Marketplace and immerse yourself in its rich history.

Cheri Keplinger
Cheri Keplinger

Subtly charming music nerd. Proud music aficionado. Friendly pop culture aficionado. Hardcore zombie fanatic. Hardcore internet trailblazer.