Kapiolani Regional Park is the largest and oldest public park in Hawaii, located
in Honolulu, Hawaii on the east end of Waikiki. The 300-acre (1.2 km2) park,
named after Queen Kapiolani, the queen consort of King David Kalakaua, is home to
the Waikiki Shell and the Honolulu Zoo.
As swamp land in a desert, the land became a park because it was not suitable for
anything else. After horse races were canceled because of muddy tracks in the wet
winter of 1876, racing enthusiasts asked King Kalakaua for a permanent, dry
course. Since Waikiki was popular with wealthy racing fans, Kalakaua chose the
unoccupied and dry plain at the foot of Diamond Head, Hawaii. On June 11, 1877,
the park was dedicated as the first Hawaiian public space. Scotsman Archibald
Cleghorn was Vice-president and later president of the Kapiolani Park
Association, a group of businessmen, who convinced Kalakaua to give them a 30-
year lease for $1 per year. Cleghorn was a Hawaiian citizen married into Hawaiian
Royalty. Cleghorn planned the park's landscaping, including the majestic ironwood
trees. Money was raised with $50 shares in the association. Shareholders could
lease a beachfront lot near the park, and many had cottages there by the 1880s. A
lease was granted to the Honolulu Cricket Club in 1893. Top cricket players from
San Francisco's California Cricket Association played for local teams. During the
1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, most of these became privately owned,
and most were later given back to the city or condemned. Baseball replaced horse
-racing, lilyponds and bridges replaced the race track.
After the overthrow, the land was conveyed to the Republic of Hawaii and managed
by the Honolulu Park Commission. The legislation provided that the park be set
aside permanently as a free public park and recreation ground, forbade the sale
or lease of land in the park, and prohibited charging of any entrance fees. Since
1913, the park has been maintained by the City and County of Honolulu's
Department of Parks & Recreation.
Besides the zoo and the Shell, the park includes tennis courts, soccer fields,
and an archery range. Its bandstand serves as an entertainment venue. It is also
a popular course for joggers who travel its two-mile (3 km) circumference. The
park also serves as the site (or the starting and finish lines) of road races in
Honolulu. This includes the Honolulu Marathon, which finished on Kalakaua Avenue
on the west end of the park.
Kapiolani park is also home to Honolulu Cricket Club, the only cricket club in
the Hawaiian Islands. Founded in 1893, it is the oldest sporting club in the
Pacific according to Guinness World Records.
As Kapiolani Park continues south it becomes Kapiolani Beach Park, adjacent to
Kuhio Beach and Waikiki Beach. The park itself also serves an a natural border
between Waikiki and Diamond Head neighborhood.
Photograph taken before the Ala Wai Canal was built to drain the swampy area in 1928 and was Hand Color Tinted by artist Margaret A. Rogers.