21 vintage photos of Hawaii from before it became a state

Hawaii became the final state to join the union 58 years ago, when President Eisenhower signed the Hawaii Admission Act on August 21, 1959.

The youngest state is known for its island cuisine, beautiful state parks, distinct cultural traditions, and thriving tourism industry.

These 21 vintage photos will make you want to hop on the next flight to Honolulu.

An earlier version of this story was reported by Liz O’Connor.


January 1890: Locals mill outside ‘Iolani Palace, the royal residence of the rulers of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

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Early 1900s: Two local men in their raft rest by the beach at Waikiki Bay.

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1901: Vendors sell beautiful lei garlands.

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1900s: Female hula dancers find a groove.

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1900s: The men can dance the hula, too.

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A man brings in his pineapple harvest after a long day (date unknown).

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1920: Two couples dance on the beach in the early morning to the sounds of a ukulele.

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1924: A native Hawaiian dancer performs while other women keep rhythm with gourds.

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1925: Diamond Head looms on the horizon at Waikiki Beach on Oahu.

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1925: A surfer at Waikiki Beach stands on his head as he rides a wave into the shore.

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1930: Four Japanese tourists pose at the Halekulani Hotel on Waikiki Beach.

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1930: Tourists peer into mouth of Halemaumau or “House of Everlasting Fire,” the inner crater of Kilauea, the most active volcano in the world at the time.

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January 1932: A group of Hawaiian girls sit against a tropical background.

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July 1934: The harbor at Honolulu is serene.

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August 1934: Two former first sons, Franklin Roosevelt Jr. (left) and John Roosevelt (right) pose with Duke Kahanamoku, a preeminent figure in Hawaii’s surfer lore, in Waikiki, Hawaii.


October 1936: Employees of PanAm Airways in Hawaii play golf amongst the albatrosses on a makeshift, full-size course on the beach at Midway Island.

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1940: Traffic hums at an intersection of King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii.


July 1940: The US Pacific Fleet returns to Lahaina Roads after engaging in regular drills and maneuvers within 250 miles of Hawaii.


1953: Hawaiian surfers Buzzy Trent, Woody Brown, and George Downing glide down the advancing front of a 19-foot wave at Makaha, near Waianae, Oahu.


1900s: A Hawaiian woman dances on a grass mat while two other women watch.

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Gorgeous pineapple fields stretch for miles (date unknown).

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