Wailuku and Lahaina served as the two major royal centers for Maui prior to Western contact with the Islands. In 1832, Protestant missionaries established a station in Wailuku and, by midcentury, a sugar plantation had been established. As the sugar industry grew, so did Wailuku's population, increasing from 4,000 in the 1860s to 8,000 by the turn of the twentieth century. With the development of the Kahului harbor in the 1880s, Wailuku soon surpassed the former capital and seaport of Lahaina as Maui's major town. In 1905 it was named the seat of government for the recently established County of Maui. Alexander and Baldwin's development of residential neighborhoods and shopping centers in Kahului during the 1950s and 1960s diminished Wailuku's economic vitality, and the closing of the Wailuku Sugar mill in 1978 led to further decline. A Main Street program, established in the 1990s, has successfully revitalized Wailuku, which remains Maui's county seat.
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