Kakaʻako was once a thriving Native Hawaiian community with agricultural terraces where Hawaiian royalty once lived. Kamehameha I had a residence with his family and personal kahuna and chief adviser Hewahewa. Hawaiians used the region for fishpond farming, salt making, wetland agriculture and human burials, according to Cultural Surveys Hawaii, which did several reports on the area.
Through recent development projects many locations have unearthed ancient Hawaiian burials (iwi) thought to be scattered throughout the district.
The civic centers of Kakaʻako are Victoria Ward Centers and the Neal S. Blaisdell Center. On the ocean side is the campus of the John A. Burns School of Medicine. The main roads through Kakaʻako are Ala Moana Boulevard and Kapiʻolani Boulevard. In recent years, the area has been diversifying by adding more residential development.
HCDA is planning for up to 30 new buildings to be constructed in the area. The plans have produced protests by residents. HCDA rules allow buildings up to 400 feet high. Kakaako’s proposed transit-oriented development plan would permit some towers to reach 700 feet, twice as high as the city’s building height limit.