Kapi'olani Park began as a development project overseen by the private Kapi'olani Park Association in 1876.

The common story told in Hawai'i is that King David Kalakaua had it built and named after 'his' queen Kapi'olani. Supposedly, Kalakaua became enamored by the importance of public open spaces after a tour of the United States.

"This is what the king may have wished his subjects to believe, but the park's origins stemmed from a plan by a group of well-connected people to create a leasehold resort for wealthy holidaymakers, and to get a top-quality racetrack going. The king was a shareholder."1

200 shares were sold at $50 each. Every owner got the right to lease a beachfront house lot in the park, and as a result a number of residences were built along the park's shores during the 1880s. After the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893, many of these prime parcels found their way into private, fee simple ownership.

1. Wanda Adams interviews Robert R. Weyeneth, author of "Kapi'olani Park: A History" in Honolulu Advertiser - December 15, 2002

Don Hibbard and David Franzen, The View from Diamond Head, 1986.

Editor's note: The above military photograph of Kapi'olani Park was made during an Independence Day military exercise in 1921, showing the racetrack just a few years before it closed.