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Yes, people from China once inhabited Hawaii in large numbers. The Chinese were hired to live and work there as laborers on plantations. They took care of the large sugar and fruit crops. Once many of the Chinese realized that there wasn’t much future for them working in plantations, they started to become retailers and merchants in a small part of downtown. That’s when what’s now known as Chinatown flourished into existence. China town is sort of triangular in shape is bordered by Nuuanu Street, N. Beretania Street and S. King Street.
It hasn’t been easy for this part of town to succeed, however. It had to fight the more experienced merchants and more wealthy areas during it’s early existence, and it twice was completely destroyed by fire. The first fire was in 1886. The second fire in 1900 was set intentionally to burn out the bubonic plague that had been brought to the city by rats that invested the Chinatown area of Honolulu. Chinatown’s flourishing hours were in the 1930s. Tourists arriving from boat had to come in at the main port, which was right on the outskirts of Chinatown. That brought tourists to Chinatown in record numbers.
Chinatown is still largely made up of a Chinese population, but there are other international residents who live and work there now, as well. Chinatown has plenty of places to shop, eat and party. You can shop in places like the Cultural Plaza at Mauna Kea and Beretania Street, you can check out the People’s Open Market (an open-air market place) in that same part of town, or a slew of nice art galleries that line the main shopping areas. Some great eateries can be found in Chinatown, as well. You’ll want to check out Wo Fat’s Chinese Chop Suey (the oldest chop suey house in Hawaii). They can be reached at 533-6393. Or you can eat at Neon’s Flilpino Restaurant or The Royal Kitchen. There are plenty of other Chinese restaurants in the area. Surely one will tickle your fancy.