Did you know that there used to be an ostrich farm in Kaimuki?
It belonged to Hawaiian King David Kalakaua, who became fascinated in these exotic birds during his worldly travels. For most of the 1800s, ostriches could be seen roaming the mountainside of this historic Oahu district. Later, and for many years, the land became the state’s carnation farm for funeral flowers.
Both very random – yet interesting – uses for a district now known as a dining mecca of the island. As soon as you enter Kaimuki, you can just feel the surrounding history, as it seeps through the faded buildings and charming little cottages. I never realized just how much history there was, until researching for this article.
Located just east of Manoa, Kaimuki was actually a strategic lookout area for King Kamehameha’s troops. They were able to spot enemies arriving by sea to what is now Waikiki. The hillside lookout still exists today as Kaimuki Hill. It has worn several different hats over the years as a reservoir, a telegraph, an observatory and now a park (a.k.a. Christmas Tree Park).
Probably one of the most important facts of any place would be its name. Kaimuki, which is actually pronounced Ka-imu-ki, translates to “the ti root oven” because of the legendary menehunes who built ti leaf ovens all over the hillside.
Like the ostriches and carnations, those legends have slowly vanished – replaced by homes and eclectic mom-and-pops. It’s a mishmash of old and new that continues to be a piece of living history on Oahu and should be appreciated for more than just its eateries.
KAIMUKI • Oahu 96816
Posted by: Bruce Fisher