Where You Live: ChinatownUPDATED 7:31 PM HST Feb 20, 2014Video Transcript
On tonight's Where You Live, we go to one of Honolulu's oldest districts. It's one of the few districts zoned residential, business, and historic. KITV4's Pamela Young takes you to Chinatown. Most great cities of the world have Chinatown's, though few today have little to do with China. These are the districts that historically welcome immigrants, and in Honolulu, that means our newest residents from the Philippines, Thailand, viet nam, micronesia. ..taking the same journey of assimilation paved by Pake plantation workers more than 200 years ago. As their labor contracts expired, the Chinese moved to town and set up shop. Honolulu Harbor was to the south, Nuuanu stream to the east, Bethel Street to the left. To the north they found themselves neighbors to Spanish grape growers around the boulevard we now call Vineyard. The families prospered, but their upward mobility was stopped dead by rats. The rats brought fleas, the fleas brought bubonic plague, and the plague prompted the city to start a fire that quickly got out of control. " 2 GENERATIONS THEY BUILT UP THEIR BUSINESSES. THEY LOST THEIR BUSINESSES THEIR HOMES, EVERYTHING THEY WORKED SO HARD TO BUILD UP.." The fire raged for 17 days, destroying 38 acres of Honolulu. But the Chinese rebuilt, this time in stone. WWII brought a change of identity. This was the red light district, where soldiers and sailors could have a very good time. 30 years later Mayors Frank Fasi, then Jeremy Harris launched revitalization projects, putting in new sidewalks and signs. IT IS ALL PART OF THE REVITALIZATION PLAN TO MAKE CHINATOWN A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE CAN LIVE, WHERE THEY CAN WORK AND WHERE VISITORS AND OUR RESIDENTS CAN COME AN ENJOY GREAT RESTAURANT S, GREAT SHOPS. IT IS A REVITALIZED PLACE. November 2004 But the spanky new image was tarnished by new problems: vandalism, the homeless, crime. "THERE'S A LOT OF HOMELESS PEOPLE IN THE AREA. EVERYTIME YOU HAVE A HIGH DENSITY OF HOMELESS YOU'LL HAVE THESE THINGS HAPPENING." Time for a new identity, once again. And you see this new look, this new energy emerging every First Friday... "A LOT OF THINGS GOING ON DOWN HERE. CHINATOWN FESTIVALS, RESTUARANT S,BOUTIQUES, ENTREPRENEU RIAL BUSINESSES. A LOT OF THINGS WE WANT PEOPLE TO SEE, TO KNOW IT'S DOWN HERE." "1ST FRIDAY IS THE BUSIEST TIME OF THEMONTH. More PEOPLE ARE HAVING THE CONFIDENCE TO COME TO CHINATOWN FOR DINNER LATE AT NIGHT. IT'S GREAT FOR ALL THE BUSINESSES DOWN HERE IN CHINATOWN." Now in it's 9th year, First Friday re-branded Chinatown as the art district. Rich Richardson: IT'S JUST AN AWESOME PHENOMENON THAT PEOPLE WANT TO MEET THEIR FRIENDS HERE AND TAKE OFF INTO THE EVENING IN AN ART GALLERY." "CHINATOWN IS THE HEART OF HONOLULU, COMING DOWN GETTING TOGETHER, FEELING THE VIBE AND UNITY, THERE'S NOTHING BETTER. So how do you define Chinatown today? A place for the aged, and ageless, for the traditional and the trendy. One thing that has never changed is this neighborhoods ability to evolve .. and make the moves necessary to meet its economic and social challenges. "THIS IS A GREAT COMMUNITY, BACK IN THE DAY CHINATOWN HAD A BAD REPUTATION, WE'RE TRYING TO TURN THAT AROUND AND MAKE EVERYONE FEEL WELCOME DOWN HERE." In chinatown, pykitv4n. anchors ad lib The FAB FOUR -- BACK in HAWAII.