The cultural narrative records and connects the genealogy of International Market Place to its location. It links historical and cultural context to the revitalization project, ensuring that a strong “Hawaiian sense of place” exists meaningfully throughout the design and development. The goals of the cultural narrative dovetail with the project site objectives:


  • Celebrate the history of Waikīkī and its people
  • Perpetuate the legacy of Queen Emma
  • Experience the revitalized International Market Place

One primary cultural theme is the traditional concept of ahupua‘a and importance of wai (water). The ahupua‘a is a system of organizing self-sustained land sections divided mauka to makai – from the mountain ridges to the outer reefs of the ocean. It allowed for the master planning and design of large land tracts. Each ahupua‘a includes ‘āina (land), kai (sea), and wai resources within its boundaries.



King William Charles Lunalilo, the first elected king in Hawaiian history, owned Kaluaokau, the site of the International Market Place and Waikīkī Town Center and built a residence on the grounds. Hawaiians called him “ke ali’i lokomaikaʻi” or “the kind king.” King Lunalilo gifted the land of Kaluaokau to Queen Emma, wife of King Kamehameha IV, and one of the most influential persons in Hawaiian history.

The Queen was born Emma Kalanikaumaka`amano Na`ea Rooke (January 2, 1836 – April 25, 1885), daughter of George Naʻea and Fanny Kekelaokalani Young. As was the custom, she was adopted under the Hawaiian tradition of hānai by her mother’s childless sister Grace Kamaʻikuʻi Young Rooke, and her husband, Dr. Thomas Charles Byde Rooke. She attended the Chief’s Children’s School and between her Kamehameha lineage and her upbringing as the only daughter of a British surgeon, she was a well educated and deeply rooted Hawaiian leader.

In 1856, she married Alexander ʻIolani Liholiho, who a year earlier had assumed the throne as Kamehameha IV. Two years later, in 1858, Emma gave birth to a son, Albert Edward Kauikeaouli Leiopapa a Kamehameha who tragically passed away at the age of four. Queen Emma was known and loved for her humanitarian efforts including her royal legacy of charitable bequests.



In the 1850′s, massive economic and social changes were taking place. Most shocking was the high death rate of the native population from deadly European diseases to which they had little or no resistance or immunity.

In his first speech as King, Kamehameha IV emphasized the dire need for a hospital to treat the native population. There was no money in the treasury to build a hospital so the King and Queen went door-to-door, walking the streets of Honolulu raising the funds to establish a proper hospital in Honolulu.

In honor of the Queen’s tireless efforts, the King and his cabinet named the new hospital, The Queen’s Hospital. A temporary building with 18 beds opened on Fort Street on August 1, 1859.

On July 17, 1860, the cornerstone of a new building with 124 beds was laid at Punchbowl and Beretania Streets. The Queen’s Hospital, now known as The Queen’s Medical Center remains on this site over 153 years after its founding.

Today, The Queen’s Medical Center is the largest private nonprofit hospital in Hawaiʻi, licensed to operate with 505 acute care beds and 28 sub-acute beds. As the leading medical referral center in the Pacific Basin, Queen’s has more than 3,500 employees and over 1,100 physicians on staff.

The Queen’s Medical Center is part of The Queen’s Health Systems, the parent company of a corporate enterprise that includes Moloka‘i General Hospital, a 15-bed rural healthcare facility that provides the only emergency room on the island and Queen Emma Land Company, a nonprofit organization established to support and advance health care in Hawaiʻi, primarily through The Queen’s Medical Center and its affiliates.

The royal mission and vision of The Queen’s Health Systems is directly supported through revenues generated by the lands bequeathed by Queen Emma when she passed away in 1885. Owned and managed by the Queen Emma Land Company, these income-generating properties, such as the International Market Place, enable The Queen’s Medical Center to continue providing high quality health care to Hawaii’s people.

As a nonprofit medical center, Queen’s is dedicated to serving everyone, and in addition to offering a comprehensive range of primary and specialized care services, Queen’s continues to contribute to the well-being of Hawaiʻi by giving back to the community via health care services, education, charitable contributions and uncompensated care as part of its mission to improve the well-being of Native Hawaiians and all of the people of Hawaiʻi.


Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, otherwise known as Donn Beach, and more notably as Don the Beachcomber, founded the International Market Place, with the commissioning of the Dagger Bar and Bazaar Buildings in 1956. During the 1960′s, other elements of the International Market Place included the Hawaiian Hālau, Japanese Tea House and Esplanade buildings. The exceptional banyan tree, which still remains to this day, was once home to Don’s tree house.


Read more about The rich history of International Market Place.