The name “Honolulu” (also written as “Honorourou” in early maps) is said to mean “sheltered bay” or “fair harbor,” referring to the natural, deep and narrow channel that made an ideal port, and by the late 1700s, ships began making the island a major stop in their ocean crossings.

A small village near the protected harbor known as Kou soon became known as Honolulu, and in 1810, King Kamehameha formally designated Honolulu as the seat of government.

According to the city, Honolulu’s official birthday is July 1, 1905, when the Territorial Legislature passed a law establishing five counties (Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Hawaii and Kalawao). The County of Oahu was renamed the City and County of Honolulu two years later. The Charter of the City and County of Honolulu wasn’t adopted until 1907, however, and the municipal government was not inaugurated until 1909.

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