The Square was originally a wagon site on which many strikers’ meetings were held. It was named after the activist Mary Fitzgerald in 1939. A militant defended of workers’ rights she became known as Pickhandle Mary and was a leading figure in the strikes of 1911 to 1914. She became organiser of the Industrial Women’s League, President of the South Africa Branch of the International Workers of the World, and in the early 1920’s, Deputy Mayor of Johannesburg.
Throughout the 20th century, the Square continued to be a popular meeting place for political, community, cultural and worker organisations. The tradition continues to this day.
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The original metal plaque was unveiled on Heritage Day in 2005 by the then Premier of Gauteng Mbhazima Shilowa and Johannesburg Executive Mayor Amos Masondo. The plaque was taken down in 2011 when Mary Fitzgerald Square was re-developed by the JDA.
A new resin plaque was installed in July 2018.
120 Lilian Ngoyi St, Newtown
Blue Plaque unveiling ceremony (The Heritage Portal)
Photographs of Mary Fitzgerald Square (The Heritage Portal)