On a long-ago summer night, thousands of people gathered on the grounds of Iolani Palace for what might be described as an illuminating tea party with David Kalakaua, Hawaii’s last ruling king.
There was tea, coffee, ice cream, Hawaiian music, dance and high society in fine evening wear. But the real draw on the evening of July 21, 1886, was the simple spectacle of electric light that few locals had ever seen.
The 49-year-old king, who was fascinated by the potential of electricity, was something of an early adopter who had promised to bring electric light to Hawaii. Even the White House wouldn’t have electric lights for years after Iolani Palace, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, was electrified.