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Sad News for Reckless Idiots: Hawaii’s “Stairway to Heaven” To Be Demolished

Hawaii‘s visually striking yet very illegal-to-climb Haiku Stairs will finally be taken down, following years of futile efforts by local officials to persuade tourists to leave the rickety landmark alone. 

Built by the U.S. military during World War II to reach a communications facility, the 3,922 steel steps cover a treacherous, mountaintop stretch of green and mist in the Koolau Range on the island of Oahu

The so-called “Stairway to Heaven” has been closed to the public since 1987. But if you think that, or a $1,000 fine for trespassing, is enough to deter thrill seekers, unscrupulous influencers, and other tourists who are bad at touristing, just follow the Stairway to Hell that is social media. You’ll find plenty of pics and videos of TikTokkers, YouTubers, and Instagrammers blithely flouting the law by traversing the stairs—and often racking up thousands of likes and views in the process.

Oahu residents who live near the structure have had to put up with parades of strangers illegally traipsing across their property. There have been reports of vandalism and littering at the site. And tourists have injured themselves while trying to make the forbidden ascent, requiring costly airlift evacuations

Finally fed up, the Honolulu City Council voted unanimously in 2021 for a resolution to remove the stairs. The takedown will get going by the end of this month, according to a statement released by the office of the mayor

More than 600 “stair modules” will go first, the statement reveals, with measures being taken to ensure public safety, protect native species, and prevent erosion. 

Calling the move “long overdue,” Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said in the statement that the decision to demolish the Haiku Stairs was “predicated upon our respect for the people who live in and around the entrance to the stairs, our respect for our ‘aina [land], and our respect for both the future and the past history of the culture of the Ha’iku community.”  

Full removal of the stairs is expected to take 6 months. The city’s statement warns that the site is now an active construction zone and that people who ignore “No Trespassing” signs are putting themselves in danger. 

Which has always been true, but hey, maybe this time they’ll listen.