From the first Europeans visiting the islands in 1778 and the establishment of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1795 to Hawaii’s admittance to the United States of America in 1959, the Hawaiian Islands are steeped in history. Take a step back in time to the era before Hawaii was an American state, to an island paradise, circa 1924. Produced by the Ford Motor Company, this beautiful black and white silent film simply entitled, “The Hawaiian Islands,” shows us life in Hawaii through the eyes of mainlanders in the roaring ‘20s. The footage was obtained by the U.S. National Archives and later uploaded to YouTube in 2014.

The film describes Honolulu as “a modern city with avenues of beautiful palms and tropical plants,” and features footage of waves crashing against the shore at the famous Waikiki Beach, individuals working in sugar cane plantations and taro fields, an impressive railroad system, Japanese shop owners, and even well-dressed men jumping over crevices made from the cooled lava flows of Kilauea. Ready to immerse yourself in the history of Hawaii? Just press play!

While I feel lucky to live in modern-day Hawaii, where I can easily retreat into my air-conditioned home when the weather gets a little too warm, it is quite incredible to see the islands from this unique perspective. For another gorgeous glimpse into the history of Hawaii, take a gander at these 11 incredible vintage photographs of Waikiki.

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The History of Hawaii

When was Hawaii discovered?

The human settlement of the Hawaiian Islands dates back to sometime between 124 and 1120 AD when the islands were first settled by Polynesians. Civilization in Hawaii was isolated from the rest of the world for at least 500 years, and it wasn't until 1778 that Europeans led by Captain James Cook "discovered Hawaii." Rumor has it, though, that Spanish captain Ruy López de Villalobos was actually the first European to see the islands in 1542.

When did Hawaii become an American state?

A group of businessmen and sugar planters forced Queen Liliuokalani to abdicate her throne on January 17, 1893, and the Kingdom of Hawaii was dissolved two years later. It wasn't until 1898, however, that Hawaii was annexed as a United States territory, and even later still — on August 21, 1959 — that Hawaii became an American state.

Where can you go to experience the history of Hawaii?

With such a storied past, the Hawaiian Islands are undoubtedly home to countless incredible sites that tell the history of these beautiful islands. From Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, a place of refuge nestled along the coast of Hawaii Island to the Kalaupapa National Historical Park, where leprosy patients were sent to live in isolation, these 13 spots are some of the most unique historic sites in the Aloha State. And if you'd rather journey back in time to the Hawaii of yesteryear for yourself, here are 13 places where you can still experience old Hawaii.