Hogan’s Alley

“There has been a Black community in Vancouver since before there was a Vancouver." Wayde Compton

The first Black immigrants arrived in British Columbia from California in 1858. They settled in Victoria and Salt Spring Island, but began migrating to Vancouver in the early 1900s, some making their homes in Strathcona (Old East End).

Map created by John Atkin for VHF.


Hogan’s Alley was part of the ethnically diverse East End, centred between Prior and Union and Main and Jackson. It was home to much of Vancouver’s Black community and included businesses such as Vie’s Chicken and Steak House on Union and the Pullman Porters’ Club on Main. The neighbourhood was a popular cultural hub before mid-twentieth century urban renewal schemes and the Georgia Viaduct Replacement Project demolished many of its buildings.


The City of Vancouver is located on the ancestral, unceded and traditional territories of the  xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples.

Learn more on the Musqueam Place Names Map, First Peoples’ Cultural Council of BC’s First People’s Map of BC and the Squamish Atlas . Further resources can be found on VHF’s Indigenous Heritage Resources page.

Hogan’s Alley was the unofficial name for a T-shaped intersection at the southwestern edge of Strathcona that formed the nucleus of Vancouver’s first concentrated Black community. Vancouver’s first archivist, J.S. Matthews (see Major Matthews’ House), noted that the name “Hogan’s Alley” was in use by 1914.  

The Beginnings
The first Black immigrants (of African Descent) arrived in British Columbia from California in 1858. They settled in Victoria and Salt Spring Island, but began migrating to Vancouver in the early 1900s, making their homes in Strathcona, an east side, working-class neighborhood that was the original home to Vancouver’s Italian community, as well as the southern edge of Chinatown. They were joined by Black homesteaders from Alberta, who originally came from Oklahoma, and by Black railroad porters worked at the Great Northern Railway nearby. Housing discrimination in other parts of Vancouver also concentrated the city’s Black population in this area.

Black cultural institutions the neighbourhood was known for included “chicken house” restaurants, which often doubled as speakeasies — best known was Vie’s Chicken and Steak  — as well as the African Methodist Episcopal Fountain Chapel (1922-1950s) and the residential quarters of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. At its height in the 1940s, the Black population in Strathcona numbered approximately 800.

The neighbourhood was home to Nora Hendrix, grandmother to rock legend Jimi Hendrix and a cook at Vie’s Chicken and Steak House. Nora Hendrix was involved in the community from the 1920s through to its demise, remaining nearby until the 1980s. Jimi Hendrix is known to have visited his grandmother during his childhood. Other performers from the community include the singer and actor Thelma Gibson-Towns and her brother Leonard Gibson, whose Negro Workshop Dance Group led to his work with Ballet British Columbia

Urban Renewal
Over the years, the Black population endured efforts by the city to rezone Strathcona making it difficult to obtain mortgages or make home improvements, and by newspaper articles portraying Hogan’s Alley as a centre of squalor, immorality and crime. Beginning in 1967, the City of Vancouver began leveling the western half of Hogan’s Alley to construct an interurban freeway through Hogan’s Alley and Chinatown. The freeway was ultimately stopped, but construction of the first phase – the Georgia viaduct – was completed in 1971. In the process, the western end of Hogan’s Alley was expropriated and several blocks of houses were demolished. Since the demise of Hogan’s Alley, no identifiably Black neighbourhood has emerged in Vancouver, but organizations like the British Columbia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People and festivals such as Caribbean Days and Black History Month have brought community members together.


In recent years, there have been significant efforts to commemorate the neighbourhood, through community and government initiatives such as a stamp issued by Canada Post in February 2014 as part of Black History Month. Artists such as Andrea Fatona and Cornelia Wyngaarden, Wayde Compton, and Stan Douglas, have explored Hogan’s Alley in their work. Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project and VHF worked towards the Places That Matter plaque.  The Hogan’s Alley Society has partnered with the Portland Hotel Society (“PHS”), the city of Vancouver and BC Housing to deliver a 52-unit temporary modular housing development on the Hogan’s Alley Block, named Nora Hendrix Place, and is working on a MVRD Black Experience Project to begin mapping out the diverse experiences of people of African descent (Black) in Metro Vancouver. 

With the confirmation of the Georgia Street viaducts removal, there are plans for a Black Cultural Centre on the former site of Hogan’s Alley. Under the approved North East False Creek Plan section 4.4 and 10.4, the City of Vancouver has indicated the intent to establish a Cultural Centre on the 898 Main Street block. 

Beyond Hogan’s Alley- Black residents can be found throughout Vancouver in the 20th century- from the West End, Mt Pleasant and South Vancouver, Kitsilano and Grandview. More research needs to be done on these diverse stories, and we will be working to feature these connections in the future. Please submit a story if you have a connection.

Video Resources and Projects

Related Organizations and Online Resources

Nearby Places That Matter

Media & Photos

Plaque is located on Union Street, in the alley East of Main St.

Main and Union
A map on the plaque shows your location to Hogan's Alley


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