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Kaiser had big plans for Magic Island

By Bob Sigall

LAST UPDATED: 9:50 p.m. HST, May 19, 2011

Question: Whose idea was Magic Island?

Answer: Henry Kaiser first proposed building the peninsula, at top, that we call Magic Island, along with two huge artificial islands between it and Kewalo Basin, lower left, in 1955.

Ala Moana Boulevard runs along the left edge of this tabletop model Kaiser made. It suggested inlets for boats, walkways and bridges. He called it Magic Island because islands would be created where there once were none.

Kaiser offered to pay the $50 million cost if he could build six hotels on the property.

The Legislature wrestled with the issue for nine years, then said no to the hotels. The project was scaled down, and the grand opening was held in 1972. Kaiser went on to develop the Hilton Hawaiian Village and Hawaii Kai.


Note: In this new feature, Bob Sigall, author of “The Companies We Keep” books, looks through his collection of old photos to tell stories about Hawaii people, places and companies. Email him at

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