July 11 (PM) – Hawaii State Capitol – City’s Murals

Our next stop was Hawaii's State Capitol … one architectually very different from any of the other 44 we've visited.

East Facade

West Facade

State Seal

The seat of Hawaii’s state governmen, its principal tenants are the Governor and Lieutenant Governor as well as all legislative offices and the Legislative Reference Bureau.  The State Senate is composed of twenty-five members and the House of Representatives of fifty-one members.  

Hawaii State Capitol was commissioned and dedicated by the second Governor of Hawaii.  It opened on March 15, 1969, replacing the former statehouse, the Iolani Palace.

Queen Liliʻuokalani Statue

in the Capitol Mall between the capitol building and Iolani Palace was dedicated on April 10, 1982.  Several other capitol building monuments decorate the statehouse grounds.  The Beretania Street entrance features the Liberty Bell,

a gift of the President and U.S. Congress to the Territory of Hawaii in 1950 as a symbol of freedom and democracy. One of the more prominent monuments on the statehouse grounds is the statue of Father Damien,

a tribute to the Roman Catholic priest who died in 1869 after sixteen years of serving over 7,200 patients afflicted with leprosy.   His feast Day is celebrated on May 10. In Hawaiʻi, it is celebrated on the day of his death, April 15.

The Eternal Flame on Beretania Street

is a metal sculptured torch that burns endlessly as a tribute to all men and women from Hawaii who served with the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy in the major and minor conflicts in which the United States was engaged.  Likewise, the Korean-Vietnam War Memorial

pays tribute to service members who died in those conflicts.  Dedicated on July 24, 1994 by the state’s fifth Governor of Hawaii, the monument consists of 768 black marble pedestals engraved with the names of and 312 service members of the Vietnam War.  A larger marble slab bears a Hawaiian language inscription of remembrance.

Across the street is another memorial to the Hawaiians who were killed during World War II.

Architecturally, the capitol an American adaptation of the Hakonya style termed “Hawaiian international architecture".  Unlike other state capitols modeled after the  U.S. Capitol, the Hawaii State Capitol's distinct architectural features symbolize various natural aspects of Hawaii. Among them:

  • The building is surrounded by a reflecting pool, symbolizing the Pacific Ocean;.

Green color comes from algae and other material on the bottom of the shallow pool

From the time the Capitol was completed in 1969, the reflecting pool has had a persistent algae  growth problem, due partly to the fact the pool is fed with brackish water from on-site wells.  Attempts by the state to fix the problem included introducing tilapia fish into the pool and installing an ozone treatment system.  The state currently has the pool lining scrubbed manually with enzymes added to the water to combat growth.  Some Capitol regulars say the algae growth has come to represent the pollution of the Pacific Ocean, in an ironic twist of the original symbolic meaning of the pool.

Water pours from hybiscus (state flower) fountains

  • The two legislative chambers are cone-shaped, symbolizing Volcanoes that formed the Hawaiian Islands;
  • The columns around the perimeter of the building have shapes resembling royal palms trees;
  • There are eight columns in four rows at either side of the building, representing the eight main islands of Hawaii; sets of eight items appear in other places inside and along the outside of the building;
  • Lying in the floor of the atrium courtyard is "Aquarius", a 36-fot moasic made of over 600,000 Italian smalti (tiles). 

The Capitol is built with an open-air design, allowing sun, wind, and rain to enter; the central atrium opens to the sky and rainbows can sometimes be seen inside the building when it rains; and

Four kukui nut trees are a numerical reference to the four main counties in the State of Hawaii. Sets of four items appear in many other places in the building.

When standing in the center of the structure, the chandeliers from both legislative chambers, which represent the sun and moon, can be seen through the glass walls, while the area that is normally reserved for a rotunda in most capitol buildings is left open to the sky.  It is said that the sky is Hawaii's capitol dome.

Governor's Office

Note the height of the doors (throughout the capitol) – suggested by Jackie Kennedy Onasis

Hoe canoe paddle

Lieutenant Governor's Office

Unfortunately, both the  Legislative Chambers were closed for cleaning and the lights turned off.  The best we could do was try to photograph them throught a dirty window and pull up a photo from the Internet.  This is too bad as the Senate chmber is filled with the cool colors from the ocean, sand and sky.  Hanging from the center is the "Moon" light sculpture.  Wired with a color-changing sequence, the sculpture glows with different hues behind the polished aluminum and 630 nauticlus shells.  On the sloped, cureved wall is an abstract mural tapestry woven with wool knots on linen warps and measures close to 40-feet.

Senate Chamber

Internet photo

Thru-the-window photo

The Hosue of Representatives Chamber is decorated with warm earthytones and aonother tapestry to complement the room's color scheme,  The "Sun" is made with 132 gold-plated copper and brass orbs which emit prisms that cast pale rainbows on the ceiling.

House Chamber

Internet photo

Thru-the-window photo

We were intrigued by the state's flag.

Adopted December 29, 1845, the state flag of Hawaii has the Union Jack of the United Kingdom at the canton. The field of the flag is composed of eight horizontal stripes (from top to bottom: white, red, blue, white, red, blue, white, red) symbolizing the eight inhabited islands (Hawaii, Oahu, Kauai, Kahoolawe, Lānai, Maui, Molokai and Niihau). Flag of Hawaii is a deliberate hybrid of British flag and American flag to showcase the roles played by Great Britain and United States in the history of Hawaii.

The State Supreme Court is located across the street from the Iolani Palace in the Kamehameha V Judicial Center.

The statue ourside the center is that of King Kamahameha I.

It was disappointing to see that some of the palms on the center's lawn and nearby mailboxes had fallen victim to irresponsible people with knives and spray paint.

Across the street is the historic Kawaiaha'o Church.

At one time the national church of the Hawaiian Kingdom and chapel of the royal family, the church is popularly known as Hawaiʻi's Westminstery Abbry. The name comes from the Hawaiian noun phrase Ka wai a Haʻo (the water of Haʻo), because its location was that of a spring and freshwater pool in the care of a High Chieftess Haʻo.

Today, Kawaiahaʻo continues to use the Hawaiian language for parts of the service. It is one of the oldest standing Christian places of worship in Hawaiʻi, although four thatched churches stood at or near the present site before construction of the stone church.

On the church grounds is a mausolum In which the remains of William Charles Lunalilo,

the kingdom’s sixth monarch, are interred.  When King Kamehameha V died without naming a successor, Lunalilo was “elected” by a popular vote of the people.  His investure was held at the church.  However, he reigned for only one year, dying in 1874 at the age of 39.  His last wish was to be laid ot rest near “his people”, the reason his tomb stands at the entrance to Kawaiaha’o Church.

As in other cities, some of the building artecture is pretty interesting.

Honolulu CIty Hall

After having lunch, we wandered to and then through a five or six block area … previously, primarily a warehouse district … where the results of the city's invitation to many known and unknown artists are on display.  While many are "named", we will make no attempt to label any of these works of "art (very different from the building murals found throughout Philadelphia) which are, in many cases, extremely colorful




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