The American Planning Association has issued its Great Streets for 2011, and Front Street in Lahaina town has captured one of the coveted spots. Others, including Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood, U Street NW in Washington DC, and Main Street in Nantucket, Massachusetts have also claimed the honors.
The program featured places that “exemplify exceptional character and highlight the role planners and planning play in creating communities of lasting value.” Front Streets’ contribution to Lahaina as the “jewel in the crown of Maui” includes scenic ocean and mountain views, historic architecture, a vibrant mix of retail shops, restaurants, and other businesses.
2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, the lead group responsible for preserving and maintaining the historic integrity of Lahaina and Front Street.
Lahaina was recognized as the first capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1802 by King Kamehameha I and remained the capital until 1845 when King Kamehameha III named Honolulu the new capital…lucky for us, as Lahaina town never got overbuilt.
The designated area on Front Street are the 5 blocks between Shaw Street to the southeast and Baker Street to the northwest. Two-story building height restrictions ensure human scale streetscapes and 5 parks border Front Street. Front Street is also home to the largest banyan tree in the U.S.
Wide sidewalks made from an eclectic mix of materials reflect differences, as they were built and rebuilt over time. Remnants of Hawaii’s whaling era (1820-1860) still exist close to Front Street today and plaques along the street highlighting building sites from the period are sprinkled throughout. The site where sailors used a freshwater pump to fill kegs during layover in port to re-provision also still exists today.
Mahalo to the Lahaina Restoration Foundation for providing a photo for this blog.