Soldier to Soldier Hawaii

The History of the Salt Lake neighborhood


Tracing the History of Salt Lake: A Vibrant Neighborhood on Oahu

Located centrally on the island of Oahu, Salt Lake is a residential area known for its easy accessibility to downtown Honolulu, the airport, and military installations. However, beyond its modern conveniences and strategic location, Salt Lake holds a rich historical background that many may not know. In this blog, we journey back in time to delve into the captivating history of this unique Hawaiian neighborhood.

Salt Lake: A Historical Overview

Contrary to what its name might suggest, Salt Lake, also known as Aliamanu, wasn’t always a residential area. In fact, up until the 1960s, it was a literal salt lake, a vibrant ecosystem of saltwater marshes, mudflats, and grasslands. Historically, it was an ‘ili (land division) of Moanalua Ahupua’a and was known for being a significant water bird habitat.

During ancient times, the area was home to several species of water birds, and the lake was a source of food, supplying fish and salt for Native Hawaiians. Ancient Hawaiians even had a mythological connection to the area, as it was believed to be a home to a mo’o, a lizard-like water spirit.

The Transformation of Salt Lake

The 1960s marked a pivotal period for Salt Lake. The growing population and urbanization of Honolulu led to the draining of the lake to make way for the development of a residential neighborhood. From being a vast marshland, Salt Lake transformed into a region with high-rise apartments, homes, schools, shopping centers, and parks.

Salt Lake’s unique circular design was the brainchild of developer Fritz B. Burns, who intended to create a master-planned community that would cater to the island’s growing population. Burns’ design maximized the area’s real estate potential while still providing open spaces, a striking departure from the traditional grid-like structure of most cities.

Salt Lake Today

Today, Salt Lake is a vibrant, diverse neighborhood that attracts people from all walks of life, thanks to its central location and its wide array of housing options. The community features a variety of amenities, including Salt Lake Shopping Center, the Honolulu Country Club, and several top-rated schools. The area’s accessibility, coupled with its lush parks and recreational facilities, makes it an attractive place for families and individuals alike.

Its rich history is not forgotten, however. Despite the urban transformation, the spirit of the old Salt Lake still remains in the area’s street names, which are named after the numerous birds that once inhabited the lake and its surroundings.


From a bustling bird habitat to a thriving residential area, Salt Lake’s transformation reflects Oahu’s changing landscape in response to population growth and urban development. While it may not hold the same natural landscapes it once did, the legacy of Salt Lake lives on through the stories of its past and the vibrancy of its present. Understanding this history enriches our appreciation of this unique neighborhood, reminding us that even in the heart of urban Oahu, traces of Hawaii’s rich heritage persist,

Celester Thomas

Company Blog – Soldier to Soldier Hawaii Realty

Soldier to Soldier