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Queen Kapiolani Park

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Queen Kapiolani Park

Queen Kapiolani Park, more commonly referred to as Kapiolani Park is located near Waikiki and Diamond Head on the island of Oahu. Kapiolani park is the largest and the oldest public park in Hawaii. The park was granted from royal lands and was the first public space on Oahu. The park got its name from the queen consort of King Kalakaua, Queen Kapiolani, and is a 300 acre open air park. As the park continues south it becomes Kapiolani Beach Park which is adjacent to Kuhio Beach and Waikiki Beach. The park is also a natural division between the Waikiki and Diamond Head neighborhoods. The park is also home to the Honolulu Zoo, and the Waikiki Shell.

The area was originally a mix of swamp land and an arid plain that was not deemed suitable for building. King Kalakaua was trying to find an area for a horse racing course in the 1870's and since Waikiki was popular with the wealthy racing fans he chose the dry plain at the foot of Diamond Head where the park stands today. The park was dedicated on June 11, 1877 as the first public space.

The Kapiolani Park Association was a group of businessmen, including Scotsman Archibald Cleghorn, that convinced King Kalakaua to allow them to have a 30 year lease for $1 a year. Archibald Cleghorn was a Hawaiian citizen that married into Hawaiian Royalty and was later Vice President and President of the Kapiolani Park Association. He planned the parks landscaping including the massive and majestic Ironwood trees. Money was raised by selling $50 shares of the association, shareholders could then lease beachfront lots near the park. By the 1880s many shareholders had built cottages on their lease space. The Honolulu Cricket Club received their lease in 1893 and many top cricket players from San Francisco's California Cricket Association then played for local teams. According to Guinness Book of Records it is now the oldest sporting club in the Pacific, and the only cricket club in Hawaii.

After the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, most of the cottages were privately owned and later on most were returned to the city or condemned. The land was then given over to the Republic of Hawaii, and was governed by the Honolulu Park Commission. Legislation was passed that set the land aside permanently as a free park and recreation grounds, the sale or lease of the land was forbidden as well charging an entry fee. Since 1913 the park has been maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department of the City and County of Honolulu. The park has a large open green spaces, lily ponds, tennis and basketball courts, softball, baseball, lacrosse, soccer and rugby fields, as well as an archery range. Each year it is also host to many international rugby and lacrosse tournaments. The park is also a favorite for joggers who use its 2 mile circumference, and is also the start and finish point of road races in Honolulu including the Honolulu Marathon.