Salt Lake, Hawaii

Salt Lake, Hawaii

Salt Lake is a suburban neighborhood of Honolulu, Hawai‘i on the island of O‘ahu. The area is also known as Āliamanu after a nearby crater, although Salt Lake itself is in a crater called "Ālia pa‘akai" — meaning "salt pond" in Hawaiian. The Salt Lake community was developed in the 1960s during the Hawai‘i construction boom, providing residents with an expansive view of downtown Honolulu and the sugarcane plantations of the central plain of O‘ahu. It is a community of high-rise condominiums, mid-rise town-dwellings, and houses snaking around the remnants of a now freshwater lake.

The U.S. Postal Code for Salt Lake is 96818.

Geography and History

The Salt Lake community is built in the larger and easternmost of three overlapping, low profile, tuff cones or volcanic craters: Makalapa, Āliamanu and Āliapa‘akai. A lake, at one time 1.5 km across (20 ha) but very shallow, formed in the bowl of Āliapa‘akai fed by freshwater springs or possibly seawater seepages (Alexander, 1926 in Maciolek, 1982). Because the lake had no outlet, water loss was largely by evaporation, concentrating salts. Up until 1910, the lake was regularly so salty that salt deposits formed around the shore. In that year, an artesian well was dug to bring the water level higher (and salt content lower) for use as a mullet pond; a tunnel, dug through the southeast rim of the crater, controlled water level and provided an outlet (Macdonald, Abbott, and Peterson. 1983). This act and later construction of a larger drainage outlet, eventually removed the salt from Salt Lake.

An "ahupua‘a" in ancient Hawai‘i was a parcel of royal land that stretched from the mountain to the sea. The "ahupua'a" of Moanalua eventually became the property of the Estate of S.M. Damon, a private trust of lands owned by Samuel M. Damon. Before him, these lands belonged to the House of Kamehameha. Damon was involved with the Committee of Safety that succeeded in the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i and obtained the abdication of Queen Lili‘uokalani. Damon later became one of the first trustees of the Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate and served alongside philanthropist Charles Reed Bishop. The Estate of S.M. Damon sold a part of the original "ahupua'a" to commercial and residential developers in 1956. After statehood, the developers took part in an effort led by then Governor of Hawai‘i John A. Burns to establish Honolulu as one of the most modern of the cities in the United States with Salt Lake as one of its highlights.


Salt Lake's growth was mainly attributed to the ease (in those days) with which residents could travel to and from downtown Honolulu and Waikīkī, where a great number of residents worked. Salt Lake's main street is Salt Lake Boulevard, running the length of the community, from Moanalua High School to Aloha Stadium, connecting Puuloa Road (State Rte. 66) and Kamehameha Highway (State Rte. 99). Its major arteries are Ala Ilima Street, Ala Lilikoi Street and Ala Napunani Street. Most of Salt Lake's residential streets are named after native flora and fauna. For example, the "‘ilima" is the official flower of the City & County of Honolulu.

Highways and freeways passing close by Salt Lake include the Queen Lili'uokalani Freeway (no exits or entrances), Moanalua Freeway (Exit 2 – Ala Napunani; Exit 3 – Puuloa Road), and Nimitz Highway (State Rte. 92). A renovation of Puuloa Road, which divides Salt Lake from Māpunapuna, is underway (2004).


Salt Lake is almost surrounded by military installations. Nearby Fort Shafter is the headquarters of the United States Army Pacific. Hickam Air Force Base is headquarters of the United States Pacific Air Forces. Pearl Harbor is headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet. United States Pacific Command is to the north of Salt Lake at Camp H. M. Smith. Tripler Army Medical Center, visible on the heights to the northeast, is the principal U.S. military medical facility for Asia and the Pacific Basin.


Although not regarded as part of Salt Lake, the Honolulu International Airport is very close by just to the south. The area surrounding the airport is often referred to as the airport district, a commercial and retail region built up along Nimitz Highway. Located there are office buildings, the main United States Postal Service center in the state, and Ke'ehi Lagoon.


A 2003 special feature of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin classified Salt Lake as affluent upper-middle class with equal distribution of Caucasians and second and third generations of Filipino Americans and Japanese Americans. Korean American families have also been making their presence known most recently. There are under 30,000 people living in Salt Lake. Based on surveys compiled by the University of Hawaii, residents are composed of mostly Honolulu professionals and military officers choosing to live off base. The neighborhood community is home to the families of officers from the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard and Navy.

According to the 2000 report of the United States Census Bureau, Salt Lake ranked eighth of all the neighborhood communities in Hawai‘i in terms of median annual household income. It ranked second in median home values, then $ 875,000. Waikīkī was highest.


Moanalua High School was opened in 1972 to meet the educational needs of the newly developed neighborhood community. Over the years it had gained a reputation for excellence and had been dubbed by the Honolulu Advertiser as the "Private School of Public Schools", a moniker that became widely used by Salt Lake residents in reference to their school. The distinction acknowledged the qualities it shared with prestigious institutions like 'Iolani School and Punahou School. Also serving the neighborhood community are Radford High School, Aliamanu Elementary School and Aliamanu Middle School, formerly known as Aliamanu Intermediate School until 1997. Salt Lake Elementary School hugs the slopes of the Aliamanu crater. There are two schools serving the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu, Holy Family Catholic Academy and the Saint Philomena Early Learning Center at Saint Philomena Church.

Commercial Center

The commercial center of the Salt Lake neighborhood community is Salt Lake Shopping Center, bound by Ala Ilima Street, Ala Lilikoi Street and Salt Lake Boulevard. A community mall, its anchor tenants are a Safeway grocery store, a Longs Drugs store and the only McDonald's in the region. Some popular Hawai‘i eateries are at Salt Lake Shopping Center including Soon's, an acclaimed Korean barbecue place and Loong Hwa (which has since shut down), a Chinese restaurant. In the 1980s, Mayor of Honolulu Frank Fasi established a mobile satellite city hall at Salt Lake Shopping Center to provide city services for residents without having to travel into City Hall. Salt Lake Shopping Center at one time was home to the Salt Lake Moanalua Public Library until it moved to its own facilities on the campus of Aliamanu Elementary and Middle Schools.


Salt Lake is considered a green neighborhood community, endowed with large stretches of park lands. The largest of the parks is Salt Lake District Park renovated as recently as 2003. It is so large that the park was divided into two regions, "mauka" and "makai". The park is home to various hiking trails that snake around the slopes of Āliamanu and Āliapa‘akai craters and features the remnants of the lake that once dominated the area. Salt Lake District Park has playing fields, basketball and tennis courts. There are multipurpose buildings and a gymnasium operated by the City & County of Honolulu. A 50-meter swimming pool is the newest addition.

Smaller parks dot the Salt Lake landscape, green oases in the midst of high-rise condominiums. Salt Lake Municipal Park and its parking lot is the site of a People's Market each Saturday morning. Established by former Mayor Frank Fasi, the People's Market allows Salt Lake residents to purchase fresh produce and fish from independent local producers. Hoa Aloha Park on Ala Ilima Street is the site of weekend soccer games and is a late afternoon hang-out for students coming out of school.

Community events

Salt Lake is home to various public annual events:
* Menehune Classic is held in the fall, opening the competitive marching band season. One of the most important music festivals in Honolulu, various high school marching bands perform at the Moanalua High School football field showing off skill and precision. Moanalua High School is home to one of the preeminent marching bands in the state, having performed throughout the world.
* Winter Craft Fair is held each December as entrepreneurs gather on the campus of Moanalua High School to sell their unique goods and fresh, hot food. A similar craft fair is held each spring.

External links

* [ Aliamanu Elementary School]
* [ Aliamanu Middle School]
* [ Holy Family Catholic Academy]
* [ Moanalua High School]
* [ Salt Lake Elementary School]
* [ Salt Lake Watershed]
* [ "The Real Salt Lake", HONOLULU Magazine ~ November 2006]


* Macdonald, Gordon A., Agatin T. Abbott, and Frank L. Peterson. 1983. "Volcanoes in the Sea", 2nd edition. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu. 517 p.
* Maciolek, J. A. 1983. Lakes and lake-like waters of the Hawaiian Archipelago. "Occ. Papers B. P. Bishop Museum", XXV(1): 1-14.

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