Friday, October 29, 2010


A few blocks away from where I live a hotel has been going through  renovations. I have been watching every time I walk by and have been interested in seeing the job finished. Today I saw a new hotel.

The Waldorf Hotel at 1489 East Hastings was designed by architects Mercer and Mercer in 1947. In 1955 the complex was transformed into one of North America's most renowned 'tiki' themed bars and hotels.

As you can see the new design has kept at least a bit of the Polynesian theme. This door was previously green opaque material with the name The Grove on it. On an episode of Neon Rider Dr. Michael Terry, portrayed by Winsten Rekert had a scene in there. And rumour has it that Canadian actor Callum Keith Rennie used to drink there. Before he quit drinking that is.
The complex looks so much brighter and open now. So much more modern.

Earlier this year musician Thomas Anselmi and restaurateur Ernesto Gomez took over the Waldorf Hotel and along with architect Scott Cohen have worked hard to put their vision of turning the complex into a creative hub in East Vancouver.

The hotel rooms have been renovated; a 1950s style tiki has been restored and there is a nightclub and banquet spaces. Click on the link towards the top of this entry to be taken to the complex's website and learn all about the opening.

Since we are talking about music I want to talk a bit about a place in Vancouver that no longer exists. Hogan's Alley. This was an unofficial name for an area in Strathcona that was about one block wide and three blocks long. It was Vancouver's first and last neighbourhood with a substantial African population. This is thought to be because the railroads, where many of the residents were employed, was close by.

Prior to 1935 Hogan's Alley was a red light district but when law enforcement cracked down on vice crimes, Hogan's Alley still flourished. That is until about 1970 when the construction of the Georgia Viaduct wiped out most of the area.

The original plan was to actually destroy much of Chinatown and Gastown, obliterating our history and instead installing highways and 'boxes' such as this one.

Thanks to the efforts of community activists such as Mary Lee Chan Strathcona, Chinatown and Gastown were saved but not until Hogan's Alley was effectively obliterated.

You may ask what this has to do with music and I'll tell you. On the corner of Main and Union is the Jimi Hendrix Museum and Shrine.

Opened in 2009 the museum sits near where Vie's Chicken and Steak House once was. Nora Hendrix, Jimi's grandmother apparently worked there.

The restaurant was famous, a prominent black-owned business and ran from 1948 to 1975. It was owned Vie Moore and her husband Robert.

Vincent Fodera, owner of the museum, has spent a lot of time, money and energy creating this tribute to a legend.

A fitting tribute to a legend and his ties to our great city.

Have a great Halloween weekend and be safe.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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