Unearth Uncover #BlackedOutHistory: Hogan’s Alley
Hogan’s Alley was a historically Black neighbourhood in Vancouver, BC that was home to one of Canada’s biggest communities of Black Canadians from the 1900s-1960s. Situated near the Great Northern Railway station, the community grew as a place where the railway porters (one of the jobs Black Canadian men could hold) would stay while waiting for their next train. As discriminatory housing laws and practices pushed Black people out of other areas, Hogan’s Alley became densely populated with Black Canadians, as well as many Indigenous folks and Asian Canadians. This close community gave rise to a thriving arts scene, and was home to Nora Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix's grandmother. Other famous visitors included Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Lena Horne, and Sammy Davis Jr. Despite this vibrant community culture, the area was labelled as a “slum” by city officials, and instead of helping the community grow, the BC supreme court decided they needed to “fix” it. This “urban renewal” project wasn’t a simple plan to “clean up” a neighbourhood; it was a plan to keep Black Canadians apart and an attempt to erase their history and culture by erasing Vancouver’s largest Black community. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the first or last time that Canadian governments would erase Black communities under the guise of gentrification.
“Since much of the Black past has been deliberately buried, covered over, and demolished, it is our task to unearth, uncover, and piece it together again.” – Dr. Afua Cooper