Waipahu, Honolulu County, Hawaii
What started off as an almost impossible task for migrant workers turned out to be the start of a new town. Nobody thought that it could be possible for a sugar mill and a plantation village to flourish in such a rural area. Found along the crossroads of different towns, Waipahu remains as it had been -- calm and serene -- amidst the hectic and fast-paced lifestyle of today. With different races and cultures embedded in its history, Waipahu has a unique blend of exotic beats and flavors. A delightful mix of the east and the west, all in one small package -- this is what is called Waipahu.
Waipahu, in native Hawaiian language means "bursting or exploding water." This meaning is believed to refer to springs, which the area has in abundance. Located near Pearl Harbor, Waipahu has a land area of 6.7 kmÂ² and 0.2 kmÂ² of water, with an elevation of 40 feet. Waipahu has an estimated population of 33,108, with females taking up more than 50% of the demographics. The area is generally composed of Asian, African American, Native American, Pacific Islander, and Latino or Hispanic nationals. An average Waipahu household's size is 4.23, while a family's average size is 4.37.
According to the census, Waipahu's population total is composed primarily of people in their youth, ages 18 and below, and people in their mid-lives, ages 25 years to 44 years. There are more females than males in this place, with a ratio of 100 to 97.6. In 100 females, aged 18 and above, there are 95.3 males.
The colorful story of Waipahu starts in February 1897, when the Oahu Sugar Company began its operations along the rocky area west of Oahu. The company initially hired workers from Hawaii, Portugal, Japan, Spain, Puerto Rico, Philippines, and China to clear the land of plants, shrubbery, and rocks, in preparation for the planting of sugar canes. The workers lived in rent-free, segregated, and multi-ethnic mills and field camps. The workers were given a small metal disc, called bango, where their employment and identification were represented in numbers. Credit purchases were allowed in nearby general stores with the use of the bango, and workers were expected to pay them as soon as they had their salary. Because of the varied number of men, women, and children living in the place, eventually, a community called Waipahu was born.
With an average wage of $12.50 each month, life was indeed difficult for the workers. Yet, the village somehow flourished because of its enterprising residents. Soon, Waipahu had candy stores, an ice cream parlor, and a bakery. Children were given opportunities to study at a local elementary school, while they were taught sports by Hans L'Orange, a Waipahu plantation manager at a nearby field. This also became the hub of the community's activities, and they often held sporting events, band concerts, and carnivals. In 1932, with the opening of a school for adults, workers on the plantation were given a half-day leave once a week so they too could attend school and study.
In 1946, after the workers had a strike that lasted for six months, the Oahu Sugar Company was forced to give them wage increase. However, the workers now had to rely on their salaries to pay not only for their food, but for their lodging and medical bills.
Today, there are new establishments in those historical places in Waipahu. The Kapakahi stream no longer looks the same; the rice paddies and even its sugar mill have long been gone. Waipuhu's residents still hold in high regard the legacy of the migrant workers who made their village.
Despite being small, Waipahu has several shopping centers like the Westgate Shopping Center, Waipahu Town Center Shopping Center, Waipahu Shopping Village Shopping Center, and the Waipahu Shopping Plaza Shopping Center. All built near each other on Waipahu's main street, it is easy to go from one center to another for bargain buys and finds. For golf lovers and enthusisats, you need not go far since Waipahu has its own golf course, the Waikele Golf Club, where you can play to your heart's content.
You can also check out the different inns, lodges, and resorts for your stay. With the legendary Waipahu hospitality, you can find yourself being enthralled with stories about the history of the village, told by the friendly owners who are proud of their culture and heritage.
For those who are looking for an outdoor adventure, you can either visit the L'Orange Park, Waipahu Field, Waipahu Cultural Garden Park, or the Honowai Neighborhood Park. Your adventure won't be complete unless you visit Hawaii's Plantation Village at Waipahu. For just a small fee, you can take the guided tour and see how immigrant laborers from different countries lived and cultivated sugar and pineapple, as you go around the plantation and botanical exhibits and take a look at the restored houses. Afterwards, you can buy local handmade souvenirs at the gift shops.
It is also best to treat yourself to a gastronomic delight as you tour the popular restaurants of Waipahu. From authentic local dishes to quaint coffee houses, there is something for the entire family to choose from. Whether your tastes favor Japanese bento meals, Korean barbecue, Italian pasta and pizza, Mexican, savory Filipino dishes, or Chinese takeout, you can be sure that they have it all here in Waipahu.
Among the fears that the residents of Waipahu had was the loss of regular and stable jobs, should the sugar mill close. Most of the employees depended for jobs in the sugar plantations, just like some areas in Hawaii. After the closure of the Oaho Sugar Company, the income of Waipahu has been mainly provided by the industries of the arts and entertainment, hotel and restaurants, and recreation. These are followed by the education, health, and social services. Retail trade of supplies like motor vehicle and parts, food and beverages, and apparel, is also another source of income for the people of Waipahu. In order to supplement this, most of the residents took to other cities, which had more job opportunities and just contended with commuting everyday.
Waipahu, similar to other destinations in Hawaii, gets most of their income from the people who visit them, though agriculture still plays a significant part. With their colorful history, the people of Waipahu take advantage of their landmarks by packaging them for tourists. Such a move has enabled them to generate jobs for local residents as tour guides, ticketing officers, and property custodians. In order to maintain that, Waipahu must take pains to preserve and maintain their landmarks in order to compete with other tourist spots in Hawaii.
The average income in a Waipahu household is around $49,444, while an average family income is $51,855. Among the workforce, it is the males who have a higher average income compared to the females. Despite that, 13.8% of Waipahu residents live below poverty line.
Waipahu Statistics:Population: 33,108
Median resident age: 35.5 years
Median household income: $49,444
Median house value: $265,100
Land area: 2.6 square miles
Elevation: 40 feet
Zip code: 96797