The Natatorium, the swimming complex built in commemoration of war heroism in the mid 20th century. It fell into disuse in the early 21st century, and is now a shark environment which can be experienced in the safety of a glass viewing sphere.-excerpt from Linda Umstead’s short story, “Let them be Taken”
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“Let them be taken”
Wahi-Pana project by Linda Umstead
The year is 2120. The place is Honolulu Harbor, capital city of the remote Hawaiian nation on the island of Oahu, with its expansive harbor and the site of worldwide wonder, Honolulu Harbor Underwater City, the submerged ruins of the fabled “Waikiki Beach.” HHUC was declared a United Nations World Heritage Site in 2100, and in recent decades has become even more popular due to its huge duty-free international shopping district and the casino on Diamond Head Island.
Once, this location was an American tourist mecca desired by mainlanders for its perpetual sunshine and beautiful sand beaches.. During its heyday in the 20th century, sweet music poured from the beachfront watering holes every evening, sung by native Hawaiians in lilting tones under a star-studded sky. Elegant people sipped exotic cocktails, watched hula dancers, and enjoyed warm trade wind breezes rustling the coconut palms in the tropical moonlight.
The Hawaiian Islands have been an independent nation since seceding from the United States in 2093. Rising sea levels have reduced the size of this island by about 20% following the Great Polar Meltdown of the 2050s and 60s. The drowning of Waikiki was one of the final sad notes of the Global Warming era, and unleashed a major climate attitude change worldwide.
Waikiki has been transformed into a world-renowned submerged dreamscape. The palaces below the surface still stand, drawing adventurers from around the world. Tourists can dive, snorkel, ride transparent boats, or be submerged in bathysphere globes to view the enchanting ruins. We can only imagine the glorious lives of the past in this magical place. And if the temperatures are a bit cooler, we can but dream of the lost wonders of the fabulous paradise called “Waikiki.”
The Aloha Tower, a landmark of old Honolulu, was built in 1926 to welcome cruise ships from the mainland. Built directly on the waterfront docklands, the tower was the first building to be taken by the ocean. Surrounding buildings have fallen into rubble, but one can still see the tower itself beneath the surface, accessible for exploration by divers, snorkelers and boaters.
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the fabled “Pink Palace,” was one of the first hotels built on this former marshland and the first to be submerged during the late 2000s, when the hotel owners and city officials agreed that rather than continue to bolster the sea walls, they would let the building be taken by the encroaching waters. Divers can still stand on those famous beach sands, now populated by green sea turtles and fish.
Iolani Palace, the royal residence of the Hawaiian monarchy, built in the mid 19th century, and is where Queen Liliuokalani was held captive by American soldiers following the illegal US takeover of the islands in 1893. The original furnishings and appointments are now housed in the Hawaiian National Museum, where a hologram tour of the palace can be experienced.
Honolulu Hale was built as a city hall in 1928, three decades after the annexation. It was used as the mayor’s office in the 20th – 21st centuries. Its location at around sea level doomed it to inevitable inundation, along with other civic buildings.
Shangri-la, the residence of the American heiress Doris Duke, was commissioned and built in the early 20th century. Boasting several buildings, extensive gardens, an arabesque playhouse, swimming pool, boat dock and authentic details of Moorish design, the furnishings are now part of the collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art complex. In this day of reduced residential size, the scale of this estate, occupied by only one person, is staggering. The ruins are located windward of the Diamond Head Island Casino, and may be viewed in a submersible viewing craft by appointment.
The Natatorium, the swimming complex built in commemoration of war heroism in the mid 20th century. It fell into disuse in the early 21st century, and is now a shark environment which can be experienced in the safety of a glass viewing sphere.
Note from webdesigner: If you like Linda’s story, you can see more of the Waikiki underwater paintings on her website… She has some of the buildings painted that she mentioned in the short story. It’s a fascinating project with a growing series of paintings!