Milestone-Proposal:Electric Lighting Of The Kingdom of Hawaii 1886-1888

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Docket #:2017-07

This Proposal has been approved, and is now a Milestone

To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation? No

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes

Was it of at least regional importance? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:


Title of the proposed milestone:

Electric Lighting Of The Kingdom of Hawaii 1886-1888

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

During his 1881 tour around the world, King Kalakaua visited the International Exposition of Electricity in Paris, France. Afterwards, Kalakaua met with Thomas Edison in New York City, resulting in one of the first displays of electric lights in Hawaii on July 21, 1886. In November 1886, electric lights illuminated Iolani Palace's grounds for Kalakaua's 50th birthday celebrations. By March 1887, the Palace had 325 incandescent lights installed within its 104 rooms.

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

IEEE Hawaii Section

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

Milestone proposer(s):

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

Phase I. Iolani Barracks, also known as Hale Koa, meaning House of the Warriors, inside the Hale Koa Gift Shop with latitude: 21.3075 and longitude -157.8589; located at 364 S. King St., Honolulu, HI 96813

Phase II. Iolani Palace, an exhibit of King Kalakaua's legacies in the basement galleries, with latitude: 21.3068 and longitude -157.8589; located at 364 S. King St., Honolulu, HI 96813

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. The Iolani Palace, including other registered, historic buildings within the grounds of the palace, is the one and only official palace in the United States and a designated National Historic Landmark.

Are the original buildings extant?

Details of the plaque mounting:

The plaque is to be mounted on a wooden frame so that The Friends of Iolani Palace may hang the IEEE Milestone plaque inside Hale Koa Gift Shop housed inside the Iolani Barracks during Phase I of the initial installation.

For Phase II, The Friends of Iolani Palace plans to mount the IEEE Milestone plaque in the basement galleries within Iolani Palace as part of an exhibit detailing King Kalakaua's legacies.

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

Phase I. Iolani Barracks (or Hale Koa) is open to the public Monday through Saturday. Phase II. Iolani Palace is open for public tours Monday through Saturday. Tickets located in Hale Koa. Both buildings are secured, manned during operating hours, and locked after hours. For further information, visit:

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

State of Hawaii

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?

A king's foresight and achievement, one who was fascinated with technology in the world stage, traveled thousands of nautical miles to visit the International Exposition of Electricity in Paris as part of his World Tours on August 15, 1881, then met with the inventor of the light bulb in New York City on September 26, 1881 only 2 years after the invention, spent his own funds for the electric lighting project at Iolani Palace, resulted in 325 incandescent lights illuminating the interior of the Iolani Palace in early June of 1887--four years before the White House had electric lighting. The Center of Honolulu was lighted by electric lights on March 23, 1888. The king's action inspired the technical industry and accelerated implementation of the new technology in the Kingdom of Hawaii then and the State of Hawaii today.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

Geographic challenge was a major issue for the isolated Kingdom of Hawaii in the Pacific, more than 2,556 nautical miles from the west coast and another 2,600 nautical miles between coast to coast on the mainland. Further constraint by delivery time, longer duration for shipping of materials & supplies, import of skilled laborers and technical personnel, plus long-distance communications between Hawaii and New York. Today, Hawaii is separated from the east coast through 6 (?) different time zones.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

A king's pioneer work in bringing electric lighting to Iolani Palace in early June 0f 1887 and to the Kingdom of Hawaii 4 years ahead of the White House. This also created Hawaiian Electric Company. Iolani Palace is the one and only palace in the United States today and a registered National Historic Landmark. When the Milestone Award is approved, IEEE can open doors for a world renown historic landmark to educate the general public, international visitors and world-wide audience how Hawaii championed Electric Lighting years ahead of many other cities outside the Northeastern part of the United States.

Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.

Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator." Note that there are multiple texts of the letter depending on whether an IEEE organizational unit other than the section will be paying for the plaque(s).