Black neighbourhood gets recognition at last
Members of Vancouver’s long-gone black neighbourhood ‘Hogan’s Alley’ were remembered Sunday with the placing of a plaque near where the community stood until it was demolished during the 50s and 60s. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
More than 40 years ago, Vancouver dealt a blow to the city’s black community that went unrecognized by many until Sunday afternoon when a small plaque was erected near what used to be Hogan’s Alley.
On the outskirts of Chinatown, the alley made up Vancouver’s only black neighbourhood and at one time was home to almost 800 people, but the community was brushed aside to make way for the Georgia Viaduct throughout the 50s and 60s.
But dozens of people crammed into Hogan’s Alley Café on Union Street Sunday to celebrate the long-lost culture of the ghost community and remember its former residents.
Among them was Robert Crump, who moved into the neighbourhood from Alberta as a child in 1942.
“Every body was so friendly,” said Crump said of his old home. “Every day we got along, we were all in the same boat.”
The unveiling of the plaque is part of an effort from the Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s Places that Matter Plaque Project.
The project is picking 125 locations around the city with historical significance and the Hogan’s Alley plaque is number 50 on the list.
The small blue plate fixed to a wall on Union Street is the first official monument recognizing the community and its culture, and it wasn’t easy to get.
“I thought it would take three years,” Wayde Compton, who has worked to bring the community recognition through writing and public events, told the crowd at Hogan’s Alley.
“But it’s eleven years later and here we are.”
Compton pointed out Vancouverites are sadly unaware the community even existed, that despite its ties to legendary musician Jimi Hendrix, whose grandmother lived there.
Sunday’s event included singing and poetry from a range of speakers.
One of them was the granddaughter of a resident Tracey McDougall, who also produced a local newspaper article from 1952 decrying the lack of cultural facilities for the city’s black community and its “rich culture.”