Sunday, August 12, 2007

Honolulu International Airport (Part 3): Volcano Fountain Pre-Mirage

One of my fondest memories of visiting Honolulu International Airport when I was young was seeing the volcano fountain erupting at night. For over a decade visitors to the airport were greeted with this striking landmark that graced many postcards from the islands.

Of course the fountain was not on par with the extravaganza one can presently see at the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas. However for the era, the gushing water amid the evening light show of volcanic reds, oranges and yellows was a sight to behold. The fountain operated between 7:45am to midnight daily. In the 1970s, the tangle of freeway overpasses to the airport began to gobble up most of the airport’s entrance lawn and eventually the volcano fountain was reduced to rubble.

When it was built in the early '60s, the fountain was the focal point of the new, clean, modern, spacious airport. Officially opened in March 1963, the $30,000 lava-rock masterpiece featured a central volcanic plume cascading over rock slopes, surrounded by seven smaller spouts. According to the fountain’s architect, the larger pool, designed to convey the feeling of the Islands, represented the Pacific Ocean; the smaller ones, one for each of the major islands, were to suggest water washing up on island shores.

Maybe one day, airport planners can somehow find a way to design and build an equally memorable site that greets visitors, coming and going and again become the image of postcards sent far and wide. Top photo is a postcard of the former airport entrance lawn. Pictured below is a press file photo.


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