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
Kathy Munro's three part series on the Yeoville Water Tower comes to an end with this piece (click here to view the series index). The article highlights the overall German contribution to early Johannesburg and suggests that the German connection to the Yeoville Water might be a reason why its origins were concealed in 1914/1915.
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.
If you want to literally touch Johannesburg’s gold mining days, check in with James Findlay’s Collectable Books and Antique Maps store, recently re-located from his Saxonwold home to the basement of the Rand Club in the inner city.
The dignified old club is the perfect place for his collection of antique memorabilia. The grand Edwardian edifice is a bit of an antique itself: built in 1904, it was the third gentlemen’s club on the site and is rumoured to have been chosen by that now infamous capitalist and imperialist, Cecil John Rhodes.
In November 1982, Harry Oppenheimer presided over the opening of a landmark fountain in the heart of the Sandton CBD. The fountain, located on the corner of 5th Street and Rivonia Road in front of the Sandton Civic Centre, was donated to the town by Kay Barlow in memory of her husband Charles Sydney (Punch) Barlow.
In the article below, journalist Lucille Davie tells the wonderful story of the rediscovery of the grave of Enoch Sontonga, composer of Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika. The article was first published on the City of Joburg's website on 11 January 2002. Click here to view more of Davie's work.
For reasons that I have never fully understood, between about 1968 and 1972, the Wits campus underwent a period where posters of all colours and sizes proliferated, advertising everything from Rag Ball to intervarsity rugby, from Nusas teach-ins to visiting lecturers, and from Fresher’s Reception to rock and roll festivals. Every now and again the apartheid thugs that ran the country would provoke a rash of political posters, and the SRC elections were always an active time for poster artists.
The old ‘Rembrandt Gallery’ (built in 1963) on the University of the Witwatersrand west campus, has been given a second chance. After years of neglect, the refurbishment of this unusual little building has finally been completed, emerging as the ‘new’ Post Graduate Centre for the faculty of Commerce, Law and Management.
I recently came across the souvenir album Barnett's Views of Johannesburg and Suburbs. I photographed a panoramic view of the early town (in three sections) and thought I would share it. The book has no date but the look of the cover, very art nouveau design with floral garland, and the street scenes and buildings leads me to believe that it was published in the late 1890s or early 1900s.
In November 2018, the Legacy Living website announced what many South Africans had been hoping for... that the Leonardo in Sandton will be Africa's tallest building on completion (it probably won't hold the record for long with the Pinnacle under construction in Nairobi). Assuming the announcement is accurate, the building will reach 234m into the sky. This will be 11m higher than the 223m Carlton Centre completed in the mid 1970s.
Phillip Tobias passed away in 2012 aged 87. Lucille Davie was lucky enough to sit down with him in 2009 and chat about his remarkable life. Below is an article she wrote after the in-depth interview. It was originally published on the City of Joburg's website on 19 November 2009. Click here to view more of Davie's work. The image above shows the Tobias bust at the Sterkfontein Caves.
Many readers will be aware that the Joburg Cenotaph was vandalised recently. The City of Joburg's Heritage Department pulled out all the stops to ensure that it was cleaned before the hugely important National Remembrance Sunday Service on 11 November 2018. Below are before, during and after photos via The Heritage Portal and Sticky Situations.
Markhams Building, located on the corner of Eloff and Pritchard Streets in Johannesburg, is a landmark of the city. It is striking because it has survived. Built in 1897, it is nearly as old as the city itself.
In the article below, journalist Lucille Davie tells the story of the creation of the Fietas Subway mural. The article was first published on the City of Joburg's website on 10 November 2010. The mural is impressive but it has not been given the respect it deserves. In 2018 it is a shadow of its former self covered in graffiti and advertising.
Many readers will have heard of the discovery of the original Yeoville Water Tower blueprint earlier this year. This discovery sparked a research journey which has culminated in a wonderful series of articles by Kathy Munro (click here to view series index). Below is the first installment which covers the early water supply history of Johannesburg and the origins of the Water Tower.
Johannesburg has dozens of remarkable staircases inside its houses, hotels, offices, churches, fire stations and apartment buildings. Some are well known while others are more obscure. Below are ten of my favourite. Enjoy! Feel free to send through pics of your favourites.
Stewarts and Lloyds Building / Marshdale House
In the article below, well known journalist Lucille Davie tells the epic story of the battle to save the Markhams Building from demolition in the late 1970s. The piece was first published on the City of Joburg's website on 15 February 2012. Click here to view more of Davie's work.