A Part of American History
Pearl Harbor is one of the most recognizable historic sites in the United States, and the Ford Island Control Tower is a key part of that history. The tower was a silent witness to the December 7, 1941 attack, which is now open to the public for the first time in decades. The Top of the Tower at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center takes visitors for a 40-minute guided tour and an unparalleled view of the Pearl Harbor battlefield.
360° View of the Battlefield
“AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR. THIS IS NOT DRILL.” These were the first words broadcast from Ford Island as the air raid on Pearl Harbor began, marking a moment in time that changed the course of history.
The Top of the Tower tour offers a chance to learn more about this event through the stories of those who lived it. When you get to the top of the tower, you are treated to a 360-degree view of Pearl Harbor. As you take in the view, a museum docent will tell stories of the USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, USS West Virginia, USS California, USS Nevada, and USS Utah. They will also learn about the Ford Island Hangars and Pearl Harbor Dry Docks and how the Naval Hospital played a crucial role in caring for the wounded. The Top of the Tower Tour is a moving experience that offers insights into one of the most important events in American history.
You’ll have many unique experiences when you tour the Top of the Tower, and one is a ride in the tower elevator. The tour begins on the bottom floor of the Ford Island Control Tower, where guests will have the opportunity to ride in the elevator to the top. Otis Elevators started installing and constructing the elevator on November 15, 1941, and it was under construction during the attack. The elevator underwent 10 years of restoration and was repaired and renovated to meet modern safety standards. This allowed us to put the elevator back into service, transporting guests to the Aviation Water Tower Lookout.
A Moment of Remembrance
Standing 168 feet above ground, you can start to imagine the waves of Japanese aircraft approaching your sights, gliding over the clear blue waters of the Pacific toward Pearl Harbor. Chills come over you as you look out to see the USS Arizona Memorial. The Top of the Tower Tour offers an uninterrupted moment to remember, thank, and honor the fallen at Pearl Harbor. On the morning of December 7, 1941, 2,321 service members were killed at Pearl Harbor and the surrounding airfields. The Ford Island Control Tower, a silent witness to the attack, memorializes the 1,177 of those who died aboard the USS Arizona, 429 aboard the USS Oklahoma, 191 who died on Hickam Field, the 106 and 105 who died aboard the USS West Virginia and USS California, respectively, and all others who fell during the air raid on Pearl Harbor.
As you look out at the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Oklahoma Memorial, Ford Island, and the hangars, embrace the moments as you reflect and honor the service members and civilians who were lost on that fateful day. Allow yourselves to grieve for those we lost, but also remember the resiliency of those who survived. The tragedy of Pearl Harbor united a nation in purpose and patriotism. Out of great adversity came great strength. Let us never forget what happened here at Pearl Harbor and may we always remain vigilant in the defense of our country.