Friday, June 4, 2010

The Ala Wai Canal, c. 1925 and Today

Prior to the dredging of the Ala Wai Canal (1920-1928), Waikiki and its environs were a diverse wetlands of fresh water springs, taro fields, rice paddies, duck ponds and fishing areas. Fed by streams running down from Manoa and Palolo Valleys, they provided rich subsistence for the area’s inhabitants — until the canal diverted the water from these streams and channeled it into the ocean at its west end, radically shifting land-use patterns and initiating the urbanization of Waikiki.

By today's greener standards the Ala Wai Canal would be considered a major environmental blot, leaving admirers of modern Waikiki feeling a little conflicted about this pleasant and familiar waterway. Perhaps nothing underscores this better than the irony that it remains seriously polluted.

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