Tuesday, March 5, 2013

At The End Of The Line

Repeatedly evidenced in the early years of rail across the continent, railroads looked to expand their passenger business by operating hotels at the ends of the lines.

Once a railroad was being built to a new location, the land speculators would prepare for cashing in on their investment.  A hotel would typically be in place by the time the railroad service began.

Prospective buyers needed to have a place to stay, so they could become enamored of the scenery and have time to be enticed into buying a piece of property. 

Likewise, an ocean liner, while it served as a moving hotel, needed to make sure people had places to stay where the cruise ships stopped.

Simply look at the early history of trains and ships, the pattern is apparent.  Several in Hawai‘i followed this example in the planning of their transportation systems.

Here’s a summary of a few hotels and attractions associated with Hawaiʻi’s transportation providers:

OR&L – Haleiwa Hotel
Dillingham’s Haleiwa Hotel was conceived as part of a larger concept.  O‘ahu Railway & Land Company was built with the primary purpose of transporting sugar from western Honolulu and the North Shore to Honolulu Harbor.

Dillingham hoped to capitalize on his investment (and expand upon the diversity of users on his trains) by encouraging passenger travel as well; his new hotel was a means to this end.  It thrived.

Matson – Moana Hotel
The Moana officially opened on March 11, 1901.  Its first guests were a group of Shriners, who paid $1.50 per night for their rooms.  Matson Navigation Company bought the property in 1932; they needed land-based accommodations equally lavish to house their cruisers to Hawaiʻi.

Over the course of Matson's ownership of the Moana, it grew along with the popularity of Hawaiian tourism.  Two floors were added in 1928 along with Italian Renaissance-styled concrete wings on each side of the hotel, creating its H shape seen today.

In 1952, a new hotel was built adjacent to the Moana called the Surfrider Hotel (on the east side of the Moana.)  In the late-1960s (after the new Sheraton Surfrider Hotel was built on the west side of the Moana,) the old Surfrider building was made into a wing of the Moana Hotel.)

Matson – Royal Hawaiian Hotel
With the success of the early efforts by Matson Navigation Company to provide steamer travel to America's wealthiest families en route to Hawaiʻi, Captain William Matson proposed the development of a hotel in Honolulu for his passengers. 

This was in hope of profiting from what Matson believed could be the most lucrative endeavor his company could enter into. The Royal Hawaiian (Pink Palace of the Pacific) opened its doors to guests on February 1, 1927 with a black tie gala attended by over 1,200 guests.  The hotel quickly became an icon of Hawaiʻi's glory days.

Matson – Princess Kaʻiulani
After the war, tourism to Hawaiʻi expanded in the mid-1950s.  To capitalize on this increasing boom in travel and trade, Matson constructed its third hotel, the Princess Kaʻiulani in 1955.  Formerly the site of the Moana cottages, the land was cleared in 1953 to make way for a new high-rise.

At the time, the hotel's Princess Wing was the tallest building in Hawaiʻi (11 stories, 131 feet above the ground).  It was the largest hotel built in Hawai‘i, since The Royal Hawaiian in 1927.

In 1959 (the year Hawai‘i entered statehood and jet airline travel was initiated to the State,) Matson sold all of its hotel properties, including the four year-old Princess Kaʻiulani Hotel, to the Sheraton hotel chain.

Hotels weren’t the only end-of-the-line attraction.

Honolulu Rapid Transit and Land Company – Waikīkī Aquarium
The Waikīkī Aquarium opened on March 19, 1904; it is the third oldest aquarium in the United States.  Its adjacent neighbor on Waikīkī Beach is the Natatorium War Memorial.

Then known as the Honolulu Aquarium, it was established as a commercial venture by the Honolulu Rapid Transit and Land Company, who wished to "show the world the riches of Hawaiʻi’s reefs".

It was also a practical objective of using the Aquarium as a means of enticing passengers to ride to the end of the new trolley line in Kapi‘olani Park, where the Aquarium was located.  (The trolley terminus was across Kalākaua Avenue from the Aquarium, near the current tennis courts.)

The image shows a 1958 advertisement for the Matson Hotels in Hawaiʻi (from eBay.)  In addition, I have included some other Matson advertisements in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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