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Agora: The Heart of a Neighborhood


Throughout history, centralized gathering places have played significant roles in many cities. In ancient Greece, the agora, literally translated as “gathering place” or “assembly”, was the center of city life. The Plaza Mayor, in Madrid, Spain, once served as a marketplace and as a hub for social and political events. The Grand Place, in Brussels, Belgium, operated as an axis of economic and civic development. Just as with the common meeting places of the past, the presence of communal and centralized gathering points play an essential role in our society today. While these neighborhood nuclei may not hold the political significance of the past, they do provide the opportunities for socialization and interaction vital for thriving and vibrant cities.

For example, the mom-and-pop restaurants that line Waialae Avenue serve as a shared gathering place for the residents of Kaimuki. Since Waialae Avenue is one of the main roads in Kaimuki, it only takes minutes to reach “restaurant row.”

Kaimuki’s agora lies deeper than just the cluster of restaurants. Culturally, in Hawaii, food is often used a medium for social interactions. Think about it. If you go to someone’s house, one of the first thing you’ll get asked is, “Eh you hungry? Like eat?” The social interaction that food creates is what gives Kaimuki its identity.

In Ala Moana, locals and tourists alike flock to the Ala Moana Shopping Center for the shops, restaurants, and businesses, all of which provide ample opportunities for social interactions and communal experiences.

There’s a near seamless transition between ONE Ala Moana and the shopping center. Residents can simply take the elevator down and they’ll arrive at the parking lot of Nordstrom. From there, they can walk across the parking lot to the mall. The mobility to and from the mall is effortless.

A city is defined by the social interactions of its people. What people do and where they gather brings life to a community.

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog. Ryan Oda (#RS-75450) is a licensed real estate salesperson with Benn Pacific Group, Inc (#RB-19423). The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of Benn Pacific Group, Inc., its agents, and or its affiliates. My thoughts and opinions can change over time. This blog is intended to provide a semi-permanent snapshot of a selection of various thoughts and opinions that may not be the same, or even similar, to those I may hold today.

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Ryan Oda (RB-23073) is a Real Estate Advisor with Forward Realty (RB-19423) in Honolulu, HI.