The county seat for the island of Kauai, Lihue developed as a town in the twentieth century. There was no community on this site in the nineteenth century. However, the surrounding area was well populated with villages in nearly all the valleys, and both Lihue Plantation (established 1849) and Grove Farm Plantation (established 1864) controlled much of the lands with their fields and bases of operation. Although neighboring Nawiliwili had been the site of the circuit court since 1851 and, after the formation of Kauai County in 1903, the meeting place for the County Board of Supervisors, Lihue was designated the county seat for Kauai in 1903. A product of the automobile age, its wide streets were laid out in fairly regular blocks, and between 1913 and 1939, many substantial government, public, and commercial buildings came to line the new streets. The development of Nawiliwili Harbor (1930) as the major port for Kauai and the construction of Lihue Airport (1950) made Lihue the transit as well as governmental center for the island. Although the Lihue Sugar Mill ceased operations in 1996, Lihue remains the preeminent town on Kauai, with its shopping mall and hospital serving the entire island.
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