Wailuku and Kahului Town Histories

Published: Jun. 11, 2003 at 6:40 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 12, 2011 at 6:58 PM HST
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Our Lucky You Live Hawaii feature this week takes us to the Valley Isle. We're checking out the towns of Kahului and Wailuku. So come with us as we journey to Maui.

As is the case throughout much of Hawaii, the roots of Wailuku and Kahului are steeped in sugar. A hundred years ago, Wailuku was covered by cane fields.

"Wailuku was a small village and there was a railroad track that took the cane down to Kahului because Kahului is where the port is, the harbor. And that's really all it was known for. It was called port town," says Jill Engledow, author/historian.

In fact, through the early part of the 20th century Wailuku was the happening town.

"This is where the action was. It was the county seat. And the streets were full of people and Kahului was just this little quiet port town," says Engledow.

But that would all change as sugar workers demanded and received better housing. Housing that would be built in Kahului.

"In 1950 the first families moved in and they moved into three bedroom houses, not big houses, but three bedrooms with nice kitchens, running water, better than their plantation houses a lot of times and ten thousand square feet for an average price of 7,250 dollars," says Engledow.

Three thousand homes went up. Kahului was called dream city because it fulfilled the dream of owning a home. And many of those houses are still there today.

"Because of the development of Kahului, that drained the business from Wailuku. So Wailuku kind of went to sleep," says Engledow.

So Kahului is now the happening town. Government offices are located here. It is the hub of business activity. Wailuku meanwhile, is trying to wake itself up. Through revitalization efforts, many old buildings are being restored. Still, the areas are linked forever representing Maui's past and future and just one more reason you are so Lucky You Live Hawaii.

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