Johannesburg

A few months ago it was my  pleasure to lunch with Mr Walter Pon, of first Chinatown of Johannesburg and Brett McDougall (Chairman of the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation). Mr Pon has a passion for the history of the Chinese community in South Africa. Lunch was a gastronomic route into Chinese culture and history - our meeting point was the Ming Woo restaurant (corner of Alexander and Commissioner Street) which started and ended with copious small cups of delicate green tea. Lunch was Dim Sum, a variety of enticing servings of Chinese delicacies. This unpretentio

Ladies and gentlemen. What a marvellous, almost miraculous Day this is for friends, neighbours and all the conservationists who stood with us holding protest banners 10 years ago. We were devastated when the buildings were demolished and for nearly three years there was a complete impasse. The authorities would not take any action, stop orders were in place and we in the heritage lobby could not see a way forward.

 

“The cemetery is the ghost of Roodepoort West. It is the last vision of the vibrant African location that once stood where the suburban houses now stand. Like a ghost, the cemetery continues to haunt the people, now living miles away in Dobsonville, who remember its past." - Michelle Hay. 

On Saturday 16th February, Chinatown in Cyrildene put on its festive finery and glamour costumes. The colour red predominated and red symbolises happiness. The Chinatown in Cyrildene was celebrating the Chinese New Year in style with the biggest and best of street parties. 

 

What do names such as ‘Astoria, Regal, Plaza, Victory, Pigalle, Empire, Roxy, Odeon, Vaudette, Regent, Apollo, Ritz, and Bijou’, mean to you?

Generation Z will probably think they are apps and Millennials that they are computer games. Generation X will think of them as names of men’s suits, restaurants or maybe small-town hotels. Only the Baby Boomers will recognise the evocative names of long closed and largely forgotten bioscopes.

Prior to the 1994 elections, the National Party controlled both National Government and Provincial Government of the Transvaal. Planning of roads and townships were the responsibility of the Transvaal Provincial Administration (TPA).

Sandton was established as a town in its own right in 1969. It did not take long for residents to form ratepayers associations in most of the suburbs.

Ordinances of the Transvaal 1903, 1904 and Statutes of the Transvaal 1907. Whoever wants to look at old, dry, dusty, obsolete law books? Law books date, they take up space on shelves and laws are repealed. Legal language is precise and unemotional. The Transvaal ceased to exist in 1994 and today a completely different provincial government structure has replaced the pre 1994 arrangement of four all white driven apartheid provinces and the 10 bantustans.

Last weekend (Sunday 3rd February 2019) I joined ten heritage stalwarts of Kensington who came together to acknowledge history and pay homage to a remarkable war memorial and the men whose names once appeared on it. We gathered because during January 2019 the memorial had been extensively and probably irreparably damaged. Erica Lűttich had together with her students created an art installation by wrapping the memorial in cloth.

Forgotten men of the Indian Army left their imprint in Observatory, Johannesburg during the early 1900s. Although their story has been largely forgotten and lost to public memory, a monument at the summit of Observatory Ridge honours their memory. This Indian Monument stands as a memorial to Indians who fell in the Anglo-Boer War / South African War of 1899-1902, overlooking the valley where Indians served at a remount camp during the War. Erected soon after the end of hostilities, the Indian War Memorial was launched in the first flush of peace amidst a wave of

Below is Part 2 of Kathy Munro's wonderful series on the Yeoville Water Tower (click here to view series index). The piece takes an in-depth look at the historic blueprint and reveals the secrets of the water tower's origins. The article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of Architecture SA. Thank you to Paul Kotze for giving us permission to publish and to Gail Wilson for the use of some of her magnificent photographs.

It took a house plan to get Marc Latilla hooked on history.
 
The pony-tailed author, DJ and music professional recently launched his book, Johannesburg Then and Now. It’s a treasure for Joburg enthusiasts: a leisurely stroll down what the early gold prospectors built on a stretch of veld over 130 years ago, juxtaposed against what those buildings and sites look like now. The Then and Now books are a worldwide series, profiling cities like Melbourne, Rome, Charleston, and Cape Town.

 

If you walk down 11th Street in Parkmore, a short distance from the Sandton CBD, you may see some bright orange signage announcing 'Saks's Corner 1949'. Considering Sandton City was only built in the early 1970s there is certainly a story to be told. The following piece was written by Juliet Marais Louw in 1982 and reveals the history behind one of Sandton's oldest shops. Unfortunately the original structure has been demolished but the memory of the famous landmark lives on.

Tracey's Folly is one of Johannesburg's great historic mansions. In the article below, jounalist Lucille Davie unpacks the history of the magnificent property. The piece was originally published on the City of Joburg's website on 7 January 2010. Click here to view more of Davie's work. Main image via Yeudakn on Wikicommons.

Percival Tracey always got home in his car, but not in the usual way.

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