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Oahu Neighborhoods

Oahu Neighborhood Profiles: Aiea, Pearl City

Rising Above Pearl Harbor

"Two Historic Towns Change with the Times"

The city of Aiea covers almost 11,000 acres, from Pearl Harbor northward to the Ewa Forest Reserve.

Up Aiea Heights Drive is 384-acre Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area and Aiea Hiking Trail, a serenely beautiful forested locale, carpeted with pine needles and dotted with lovely picnic areas.

This community of 32,000 started out as a sugar plantation town, and the presence of the Aiea Sugar Mill provided the hard-working people with a proud identity.

In 1998, following the demise of the sugar industry, the sugar mill was demolished, but the people prevailed. On 19.4 acres of the former sugar mill site, a new Town Center has risen like a phoenix from the ashes. Here, the people of Aiea are able to embrace their plantation past as they look forward to the future with renewed vigor.

Within both the city limits of Aiea and Pearl City are all of the amenities one would want in a home town. The comfortable and attractive homes are generally in the moderate price range. The schools and churches are sources of community pride. The area offers public libraries, recreation centers, lovely parks, ball fields, medical centers and dental services, and, if anything, an overabundance of places to shop.

Pearlridge Center, which lies between Kamehameha Highway and Moanalua Road, is a mammoth air-conditioned shopping complex built in two sections and linked by a monorail.

The history of Pearl City differs from Aiea in that it was settled by independent farmers and fishers. Some raised watercress, rice, taro and lotus in the wetlands and grew pineapple and sugar cane on the hillsides.

Others made their living by harvesting the plentiful fish and crabs from the unpolluted waters. Pearl City got its name from the oysters containing pearls that were discovered in Pearl River.

The introduction of cattle ranching in the uplands in 1840 stripped the land of its vegetation, washing soil into the lagoons, wiping out the oyster population. Later, Pearl River was dredged to form Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Peninsula, which jutted out into Pearl Harbor's Middle and East Lochs, was where wealthy people built elaborate mansions, whiling away their weekends and summers picnicking and watching yacht races with scores of their friends.

The bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, changed things. Pearl Peninsula and its environs became the property of the military, and Pearl City began its forward march to becoming the full-fledged community of almost 47,000 people that it is today.

*Content provided courtesy of the Honolulu Advertiser