On the day after Thanksgiving, my father and I meandered through Chinatown purposely avoiding the chaos taking place in large retail stores.
During the early 1940s, the brick building below, built in 1899, was home to Cafe Aloha, popular amongst servicemen, which became Cafe Hubba Hubba after World War II, and later transformed to Club Hubba Hubba until its demise in the 1990s.
Yes, Club Hubba Hubba.
My memory of this area of Downtown along Hotel Street was of dilapidated seedy establishments, the clack of cues hitting balls, and the thunk as balls fell into pockets, mixed with carbon monoxide fumes, baked urine, and old beer. With the recent renovations, the difference is like night and day.
Hotel Street the day after Thanksgiving is like something out of a dream, an alternate universe. From a bustling street choked with traffic to an empty stretch where you could take a nap in the middle of the street -- I wouldn't advise it.
Built in 1931, the Walter Murray Gibson Building (below), as it is currently known, on Merchant and Bethel Streets was the Honolulu Police Station until 1967. City government offices currently occupy the space. The doors were made from imported mahogany from the Philippines. Marble, imported from France, and local sandstone were also used. A lot can be said for beautiful architecture and quality materials.
Downtown along Merchant Street feels like a throwback to a prosperous time, when people walked around in long dresses and men in suits (in the heat!) carrying timepieces, as much of the surviving architecture was built in the 1890s through the 1930s. It reminds me of brochures I've flipped through of Miami, with its fusion of Spanish and art deco.
The renovation of Downtown to keep the old architecture is commendable, when it is cheaper to demolish old buildings and build skyscrapers. The use of compact fluorescent light bulbs on an old lamp is an example of the pride and the preservation effort.
Still along Merchant Street, this narrow walkway was rather claustrophobic. The green awning is an entrance to a restaurant. Several other retail businesses are further along.
After weaving through grocery, herb, and anything you can think of stores, we landed at Pho 97 for a fantastic Vietnamese meal of pho tai and bun bo Hue, which I will describe in an upcoming post.
More pictures of Downtown Honolulu and Chinatown to come, once I have sifted through the rest of my pictures.