More than 42 million shoppers visit Ala Moana Center every year and spend over $1 billion, making it one of the most successful shopping malls in the world. But Ala Moana is more than retail, food and entertainment. It’s a destination and a part of our social fabric.
For nearly 55 years, Ala Moana Center has been Hawaii’s gathering place. It’s where people have shopped for decades and friends have mingled.
But, like all of Hawaii, the world’s largest open-air mall has grown and continues to evolve into a world class mall that never loses sight of its mission.
Part I: Introduction
For nearly 55 years, Ala Moana Center has been Hawaii’s gathering place. But, like all of Hawaii, the world’s largest open-air mall has grown and continues to evolve.
Part II: Origin
Long before the first cement piles were driven into the ground in 1957, Ala Moana Center’s prime piece of property wasn’t prime at all. It was swamp land. But a man with tremendous vision saw potential in the ocean-front lot.
Part III: Construction
Hawaii was on the brink of statehood and the world was eager to visit the islands. Ala Moana was on the edge of the excitement and shopping in downtown Honolulu was losing its luster.
Part IV: Early Years
Ala Moana Center was dedicated in August 13, 1959. Besides Sears, the mall’s original tenants included Shirokiya, Reyn’s, The Slipper House, Territorial Savings, Foodland, Longs Drugs and Watumull’s.
Part V: Evolution
Ala Moana Center was a destination almost exclusively for local residents until the 1980s, when Japanese tourists started arriving in waves and, one by one, mom-and-pop stores were replaced by high-end stores.
Part VI: Transformation
Transforming old duck ponds and swamp land into a valuable real estate project seemed unimaginable. But developer Donald Graham saw potential in the property and designed an open-air mall with two levels for stores and parking.
Part VII: Future
Change is in full swing. The Kakaako skyline is dotted with tower cranes and many are on the Ala Moana property. When you look even further into the future, Ala Moana Center will literally take center stage with the city’s Transit Oriented Development plan.