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Old Posted Apr 7, 2016, 4:25 PM
niwell's Avatar
niwell niwell is offline
sick transit, gloria
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Brockton Village, Toronto
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Alive in Jo'burg - South Africa's largest city

Welcome to Johannesburg (Jo’burg, Jozi) – South Africa’s largest, busiest and (IMO) most vibrant city. I spent several weeks in country at the end of February on vacation with a friend of mine. We did the overnight safari thing but most of the time was spent in either Joburg or Cape Town. I’m personally of the mindset that I want to spend at least 4-5 days in a major city to get the vibe, so skipped Durban.

Most people were of the opinion that we were nuts to spend almost a week in the big city – shoulda gone to the beach in Durban! Joburg is crime-ridden and dirty, of course – you can’t even walk outside without being robbed. And don’t even THINK of going to the CBD. There’s nothing to do except stay in your hotel or behind tall walls and maybe go to the mall during the day (definitely can’t go out at night!!).

Of course this was all wrong. Joburg can be a dangerous city for sure – the stats don’t lie and they don’t have electric fences and private security everywhere for nothing. But it’s also a BIG city with a wealth of different neighbourhoods. Of which many are walkable - even at night so long as you use common sense. I personally found it much more interesting than the beautiful but slightly sleepy Cape Town. It’s harder to find places but there are plenty of great bars and restaurants, and things have a bit less polished, grittier but up and coming feel. CT is simply easier, and of course more accessible in the small City Bowl (people tend to forget the sprawling Cape Flats which actually have a murder rate twice that of Johannesburg…). It also felt much more racially segregated. Even in the whitest Joburg neighbourhoods (which are mostly white, don’t get me wrong) things seemed more – economically split than racial. The townships are still overwhelmingly black, but there are pockets of middle class and even a growing wealthy population in some areas. Depending on your opinion this is either a step forward or nothing more than a lateral one. I don’t want to paint too rosy of a picture – the disparity is staggering. You can go from an extremely wealthy area with all the trappings of North America (along with the sprawl) to an informal settlement VERY quickly. Things have apparently come a long way but it’s very much a developing nation.

People also seemed friendlier and more approachable in Joburg. That being said, it’s South Africa and everyone that isn’t wealthy has hustle – even if you don’t look like a tourist it’s pretty easy to tell who has money and people will try and get it from you. Not talking about crime but selling things and fairly innocuous scams. Not too difficult to avoid though.

I’ll try and give a description of the areas as I go along. Pictures are split between my older DSLR, a point and shoot and my iphone. Most of the time I didn’t spend to much time on composing the pictures – I said you can walk around but it’s generally not a great idea to be waving an expensive camera about!






Part 1 – Suburbs and Sandton

After a combined 27 hours of travelling we were pretty beat. Decided to book the safari for the next morning (2.5 hour drive outside the city) so stayed the first night in a Sandton hotel. The rest of the trip was spent in an airbnb in a cool neighbourhood, but a hotel seemed easy for the first night.

For those aren’t familiar Sandton City is an edge city in Joburg’s northern suburbs – well known for the area where the stock market and business community (read: white people) moved after apartheid ended in 1994. It’s a series of mid-rises, office parks and commerce situated around a massive mall which is far more luxurious than anything I’ve seen in North America. Also known as Africa’s richest square mile. The whole area could pass for southern California if it weren’t for electric fences and people trying to sell stuff to you at intersections. It’s probably also the most racially integrated part of South Africa. When you’re ultra-rich I guess it doesn’t really matter who’s white or black?


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The Gautrain – which is a safe and convenient albeit expensive rail system linking OR Tambor international airport to Sandton City, Pretoria and downtown Johannesburg with associated feeder buses. Generally speaking public transit sucks in Joburg and much of the city relies on terrifying, often overcrowded minicabs and the extremely unreliable, overcrowded and somewhat unsafe Metrorail commuter rail system (which doesn’t even go to the wealthy northern suburbs). There are also a number of privately run bus companies. The Gautrain seemed well used but is also derided as an exclusive system for the wealthy. It’s extremely well maintained while the sometimes parallel Metrorail lines are falling apart. Kind of similar to many things in the country, really. I will say that I’m not sure how I would have gotten around prior to uber – basically would have had to rent a car or hire a driver.


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This is the outskirts of Alexandra, which is one of Joburg’s oldest and poorest townships / informal settlements and only a few kilometres from Sandton. You can see what it’s like on google streetview.

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Looking out over the wealthier parts of the suburbs looks like this – as I said, southern California with electric fences.


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The skyline comes into view over the sprawl. I wasn’t prepared for how hilly the city is – so it’s actually quite hard to see downtown from many vantage points.

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This wasn’t actually from the train en route to Sandton, but seemed a good as any place to put it. Some interesting graffiti amongst boring walls facing major residential arterials. Note the choice to go with razor wire as opposed to an electric fence – cost efficient??

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Our hotel after getting out of the Gautrain station at Sandton. Weren’t quite sure what to expect as hadn’t left secured areas till this point – but the most dangerous thing was crossing the road. Traffic signals are generally obeyed (when they work…) but the pedestrian experience leaves much to be desired in this area. And minibus drivers are insane. I believe Sandton is spending a bunch of money – likely mostly private – to revamp the pedestrian and cycling infrastructure in the area. Much of Sandton looks like this – small office buildings such as the one on the right with generally interesting architecture and usually home to a multinational consulting firm.

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Nelson Mandela Square outside the mall. Unlike the relatively tasteful multinationals, mall features some neo-classical something or other that’s pretty brutal. The condos in the background aren’t cheap. This area is HEAVILY patrolled by private security – a taste of something that blends into the background after a day or two in country.

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Sandton City’s “Diamond Walk” – featuring all the stores you’d normally see on an upscale walkable high street! http://www.sandtoncity.com/libproper...Detail&pid=669

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They really do like to remind you that crime is EVERYWHERE.

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Lots of new construction in Sandton, and all over the city.

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Note the complete lack of provision for temporary pedestrian access.

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Been up for around 36 hours at this point, but seemed like a good time for a beer? Plus the patio at the hotel was legitimately nice.


Soweto – South Africa’s largest and most (in)famous Township

I don’t think you can come here without visiting Soweto, which is famous for a host of reasons. Instead of a history lesson it’s probably easier to refer to Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soweto. I’m sure you could theoretically come and explore on your own, but not exactly recommended outside of a few, select areas, so it’s definitely best to book a tour. We chose a slightly less commercial biking tour based out of a local backpacker, which seemed like a better way to explore and hear about the history of the area from locals. It’s hard to say what Soweto is really like as we were clearly tourists, but it’s certainly a huge contrast from the northern suburbs. There’s definitely a growing middle class, as for a variety of reasons houses are difficult to sell in townships so people hold on to them and gradually add improvements, additions or straight up rebuilds. The tour we were on was quite small (5 of us and 2 guides) so we were able to have a drink and chat about things which was interesting, but again it’s hard to say how accurate what you hear is!

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Metrorail tracks heading into the township – this will take you back into the city, which most people who are employed still have to commute to.

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I saw quite a bit of Palestinian related graffiti in Joburg – which I suppose is understandable.

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As can be seen in the previous picture, Soweto (as all townships) is very lowrise despite being one of the more crowded areas in the metro. The tallest and most visible structure is the Orlando Towers from a decommissioned coal power plant, and now a tourist site.

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The next several pictures are from one of the former men’s hostels that dot the township. These were government built dwellings for mine workers during apartheid and have largely been transformed into informal settlements (SA’s term for slums, if you haven’t guessed). There have been several urban renewal schemes throughout the township to replace these dwellings that have generally been met with dismal results due to government incompetence, literally resulting in several thousand high quality, vacant units that nobody wants to move into because they are priced too high.


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The government has tried to legitimize these areas by the addition of things like light standards.

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And communal water taps. Joburg residents seemed very proud of their water quality, which apparently even in situations like this meets high standards for drinkability. I didn’t get sick, so hey.

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Original government built one room hostel dwelling – I believe it would be 12 people to a room.

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The “mountain” in the background is a tailings heap from gold mining. These dot the metro area but particularly the swath of land south of the CBD, separating Soweto and the southern suburbs from the rest of the city.

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A more middle class part of Soweto. The walls surrounding the houses would all be add-ons for security reasons.

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Hector Pieterson memorial, site of the 1976 Soweto uprising where up to 700 students may have been killed. This forms the centre of the more commercial, gentrified part of Soweto and is close to the Nelson Mandela house/museum and residence of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Many of the commercial properties in the next few pictures are less than 10 years old and built on what was once a residential street.

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ReaVeya – Joburg’s relatively new BRT system put in place for the World Cup in 2010. In many parts of the city it does run on a dedicated busway with standalone stations, including in the CBD. Currently serves the CBD and runs south to the main stadium and into Soweto, but being expanded north to Sandton, Alexandra and some of the other northern suburbs. I didn’t get a chance to ride but it’s apparently reasonably reliable, affordable and very safe (which is surprisingly important!).

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Unfortunately the rest of hanging out in Soweto got cut short picture-wise due to one of the massive afternoon thunderstorms that seem to happen almost every day in Joburg during the summer!


Parkhurst

https://goo.gl/maps/XJqP7TG5Bh12

Parkhust was the area we stayed at for 5 days during the trip, at a great airbnb in the back “cottage” of a house in the area. It’s one of the city’s trendier suburbs and was built up during the 1390s and late 1940s, in part for returning veterans. In comparison to the surrounding northern suburbs it has small lot sizes making it both more affordable and walkable, which eventually attracted a younger, more artistic populace. It is centred around the retail strip of 4th avenue, which is primarily restaurant, bar and antique shop oriented, with plenty of front patios that spill out onto the sidewalk. The commercial architecture isn’t anything to write home about (mostly post-war) but it’s very pleasant and functional. At least by South African standards – it would still be very difficult to live here with out a car to do food shopping or get pretty much anywhere else in the city, and there’s no public transit to speak of.

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There’s quite a bit of modern infill which isn’t super attractive but features useable street front retail space.

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Looking out the front gate of where we stayed towards 4th. The streets are lined by the walls of houses (topped by electric fences) but you can still find people walking on the streets. It was quiet when these pictures were taken as it was around 2pm on a Tuesday.

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And the other direction. Note the electric fences – and how green it is compared to Soweto. Residents like to remind you that Joburg is the largest manmade forest in the world!

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Backyard where we were staying. Most houses have a backyard cottage, which originally would have been for the help. Rentals still come with a gardener and housecleaner…

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4th avenue strip – again, midday during the week so it was fairly quiet. It’s mostly busy at night and during weekends.

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Omnipresent security – these CCTV cameras can be found at most street corners in the area (and other nicer areas) and would be set up by private security firms on behalf of residents associations. Private security is a weird thing in SA, it’s main purpose seems to be deterrence as aside from specially certified people they are mostly limited to calling the police. Similarly the gates and electric fences wouldn’t stop a truly determined criminal. But simply make you a harder target. You get used to a level of security that would make you very uncomfortable in North America, it’s hard to explain but must exist in many developing nations.

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One of Parkhurt’s nickname’s is “Barkhurst”, as evidenced by the large numbers of dog walkers in the main park. There are lots of dogs. And young parents with babies.

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Brand new infill.

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There’s a pretty decent craft beer selection at some of the places in Parkhurst, and this was one of the better ones. Not on the night this was taken but a few days later and older Afrikaner man insisted buying my friend and I a ridiculous amount of brandy and craft beer. So that was fun.

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Decent food too. As with the beer scene I found it to be a bit behind what we are used to in North America. However it is MUCH cheaper. Pretty sure that cost me $8 Cdn.

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One of the older pubs in the city, it had a distinctly… New Orleans vibe? Strangely enough a few places had that. Think it was second floor patios plus friendliness and kind of divey atmosphere.

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Hipster places kinda go for the same vibe everywhere, don’t they?

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Amazing ostrich burger on a vet koek bun though.

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Maboneng Arts Precinct

https://goo.gl/maps/NgRHRZF6xxG2

Maboneng means “place of light” and is located directly to the east of Joburg CBD. The area is comprised largely of older warehouses intersperced with some residential buildings, and as recently as 10 years ago was pretty much a no-go zone. Most of the buildings had been abandoned by their owners and “hijacked” by squatters, often falling into extreme disrepair. It’s hard to say how accurate this is but it was perceived this was mostly by Nigerian and Zimbabwean refugees, creating a huge amount of tension in the central city. For context, many South African’s blame pretty much the entire crime problem in the country on these refugees…

Since this the area has regenerated as an arts district literally building by building – more information can be found here: http://www.mabonengprecinct.com/about/. It has gotten a lot of criticism in the planning community for being an example of private regeneration that only works due to the overwhelming security presence. After visiting I’d disagree, and say that it’s an overwhelmingly positive influence for central Joburg. For instance, the developer avoids hijacked buildings and has only been redeveloping those that are truly vacant (there are multiple reasons for this of course). The cheap spaces actually allow interesting creative spaces to develop in a way that no longer exists in much of North America / Western Europe. Plus it’s not tenable to have a district filled will illegally occupied buildings that are overcrowded, dangerous and unsanitary (water and power was long shut off in many cases). At this point there isn’t much new construction and it’s mostly renovation of existing structures. We got a tour of this area the CBD with someone who is originally from Soweto but now lives and works in the district.


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The single storey green building in the background is (was?) actually hijacked and used as a recycling centre. In the morning the streets were full of people collecting and dragging around scrap metal and other recyclables. They don’t seem to bother anyone and the security guards allow it to happen.

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Many of the refurbished buildings have murals commissioned by the developer, often by street artists from around the world. They offer free accommodation and assistance from local artists who are later responsible for touching up the murals.

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Container buildings are also a cheap way to create affordable commercial units and used extensively.

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Looking west down Commissioner’s street into the CBD.

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In process of renovation, thankfully.

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A building at the edge of the precinct in the late stages of renovation. Office spaces have opened and residential units were being finished off when we were there. The ground floor will be occupied by a café / bar and smaller retail. The streetscaping is all privately done often outside the permitting system.

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And around the corner a hijacked building in rough shape – this illustrates the squalor that some people are still living in throughout the central city. They often pay rent to a “landlord” who has taken over the building but provides no services.

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A minibus taxi rank – an ubiquitous site around South Africa.

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A semi-private primary school built by the developer – apparently it does allow children from the area to enroll through a partnership with the city. No clue how it works but there were lots of kids playing. The courtyard is surrounded by micro retail units that can be operated on a short term basis.

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I had to do a second take at this one…. It’s actually commissioned art poking fun of many of the flyers that are pasted on walls throughout the city.

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Such as these. I never did get a straight answer as to what the deal was, particularly the abortion ones – one theory was they are directed at young girls who don’t want their parents to know.

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That actually means to get your picture taken if you are from the Townships. And is a cool art project where they gave inner-city kids disposable cameras and photography lessons so you can buy their art.

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Smack republic brewing which is based in the area – pretty decent.

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Johannesburg CBD

I don’t have as many pictures as I’d like from the CBD partially because a massive rainstorm occurred, and partially because areas are still not… ideal for photography. Most of these are from the (very outdated) observation deck at the top of the Carlton Centre and the more corporate western portions of the area. Most of the taller towers are now reoccupied and many businesses have moved back downtown, however there are still a large number of vacant and hijacked buildings. This includes a number of historic highrises that are sitting empty – an art “protest” poured pink paint out of smashed out windows a while back to bring attention to these buildings and force the city to take action to preserve them.

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Unfortunately due to aforementioned rainstorm, the visibility wasn’t so great from the top.

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Looking west to the corporate sections of the CBD.

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Northeast towards the infamous Hillbrow neighbourhood and Ponte tower. We didn’t walk around Hillbrow but drove through in ubers a few times. It’s apparently improved quite a bit in recent years and didn’t seem terrible but I’d prefer to not take my chances. It’s also extremely crowded on the streets and has the crush of humanity thing going on. Lots of overcrowded buildings.

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Ponte tower has apparently completely turned around since the days when garbage was piled 20 storeys high in the courtyard. It’s still not in a great neighbourhood and security apparently is VERY tight.

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The CBD is quite dense without many of the massive parking lots you’d find in a depressed North American downtown, however it’s very much a time capsule from the 1980s. Not much has been built since the final days of apartheid and there’s plenty of existing stock to renovate before they get to that point.

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Looking east back towards Maboneng in the background.

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If it weren’t raining so hard you’d be able to see the tailings mounds and massive industrial complexes that ring the southern part of the CBD beyond the elevated freeway you can see.

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Back on ground level a few pictures of the western CBD before getting rained out… again.

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Oppulent headquarters of the Anglo-American Mining Company – one of the few big companies that stuck to the CBD even during the 90s. Many Joburg residents seem to have… opinions on the mining industry and how much of the wealth left the country.

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This wasn’t dangerous, but illustrates how things can change in less than a block (from the previous pic)

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Just outside the Magistrate Court – the building on the right used to house law offices Nelson Mandela worked in.

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Vestigal Chinatown. There’s a newer one in the northern suburbs, as well as multiple “China Malls” throughout the city (their term, not mine).

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The shell of the original Victorian train station, which has been sitting vacant for a long time. It’s adjacent to the slowly up and coming Newtown District (municipally led regeneration vs private like in Maboneng) so hopes are something will be done at some point in the future. From a moving vehicle so ignore the crappy angle!



[B] Melville – with bonus Orange Grove and 44 Stanley[/IMG]

https://goo.gl/maps/XA6VFjrFGA42

Melville is an older 1920s suburb a short distance NW of the CBD. It was a fairly bohemian area that has become dominated by university students (fairly close to Wits Uni) and backpackers. The main retail strip is dominated by bars however there are a few legitimately good looking restaurants. Many of the houses on side streets have also been converted to retail units or backpacking hostels. The area overall is similar to Parkhurst but faster paced and geared towards a younger crowd. I’ve heard it can be a bit dodgier at night due to people taking advantage of the backpacking crowd, but I don’t know if that’s true. It seemed fine when we were there so this could be what wasted travellers stumbling out of bars alone at 2am said.

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A fairly new shipping container “mall” called 27 boxes that adds a fair amount of retail to the area. Built into the hillside between 2 cross streets and had some interesting looking stores and food stands.

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Sandton City skyline to the far north with the Melville Koppies, one of the many ridges that bisect the city, in between. When looking at maps I always wondered why the street grid is so random – it’s because each neighbhourhood seems separated by massive hills.

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Typical residential side street.

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The main 7th street strip with Brixton tower in the background. Oh, the street numbers are completely repeated in many suburbs. If you told an uber to go to 100 7th street you better specify Melville or you could end up anywhere.

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The original colonial architecture is still fairly evident behind the signage.

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Another similarity between New Orleans and Joburgs is the constantly varied sidewalks with random to no maintenance. I’m not sure if people steal the bricks or what.

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I made fun of the fact there was a bar called “Pulp Fiction” but apparently it’s quite good. Sometimes you forgot that South African culture takes its cues about 15 years behind North America.

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Example of above – video stores.

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The older houses are actually pretty nice when you can see them from behind walls.


140. Orange Grove


Earlier in the day we made a trip to the more working class 1920s/30s suburb of Orange Grove to have lunch at the oldest pub in the city – Radium City Beer Hall. It’s quite good and truly old school being mostly patroned by older Afrikaners. That’s Louis Botha Avenue which has a somewhat interesting commercial strip. The sidewalk is ripped up as part of the Rea Veya BRT expansion.

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Ridiculous amounts of food for like, no money.

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And Doris the cat who hangs out with you while you drink beer. A+ would recommend.


143. 44 Stanley


We also checked out 44 Stanley which is a courtyard based development between Wits university and Melville featuring boutique stores, galleries, cafes, restaurants and a beer garden.

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Beer garden.

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Exterior with what I think are university related buildings.

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Braamfontein

https://goo.gl/maps/s9dg1FDBVey

One of the more interesting and vibrant neighbourhoods in Joburg is Braamfontein, which is located immediately NW of the CBD. It experienced a fair amount of decline post-apartheid but being adjacent to Witswatersrand University I don’t think it ever got as bad as some areas. Regardless it’s rejuvenated quite a bit and become a major nightlife and shopping destination for students and (mostly black) hipsters. We spent an evening out drinking there but also spent our last night in South Africa at a hotel in the area before flying out the next day.

The area is densely populated with a large amount of pedestrian traffic, and the large buildings give a real big city vibe. The bars and restaurants have a crowd that is more reflective of the city’s population mix and seem very open and welcoming to everyone. Definitely wish I’d had the chance to spend a bit more time in the area.


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This is a running theme, but like all nicer areas in the city was heavily patrolled by security and relied largely on private interests to ensure that it remains a safe destination. We had no issues walking at night although didn’t go too far.

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Johannesburg municipal offices. The first day we visited there was a protest by highway construction workers on the streets outside here.

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Immediate aftermath of the road workers protest.

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They even tried to put separated bike lanes in, but I didn’t see anyone using them except for illegally parked minibuses.

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Still a few pre-war buildings amongst the modernism.

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Getting into the cooler parts of the neighbourhood.

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Another contender for oldest bar in the city – Kitchener’s carvery. This entire stretch of De Beers street is lined with bars, newish restaurants and Neighbourgoods market which is a weekly market featuring food, beer and other local merchandise.

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One of several boutique hotels, but definitely the most hipster. Good bar and restaurant too.

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Traditional inspired African cuisine – basically a LOT of meat.

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We lucked out and our last night turned out to be “first Thursdays”, which as one may guess is the first Thursday of each month. I’m not really sure the significance but it seems like an excuse to party. In Cape Town they shut down Bree St for a block party. There are a number of things going on in Joburg but one of them is opening Neighbourgoods for a night market (normally only open Saturdays).

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There’s a ton of food and it made me wish I didn’t eat a massive plate of meat beforehand.

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Great view of the street action from the rooftop patio as well.

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And then we had to go – on the worst flight ever home. Never fly Saudia Air and NEVER transfer through Jeddah. Ever.

Last edited by niwell; Apr 8, 2016 at 5:07 PM.
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Old Posted Apr 7, 2016, 4:47 PM
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Alive and well. Fascinating -- thanks so much for putting these up!
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Old Posted Apr 7, 2016, 4:55 PM
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this thread is going to take a few viewings for me to take everything in.


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Old Posted Apr 7, 2016, 5:28 PM
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Wow, this thread was incredible and so informative. I feel like you've literally taken me on a virtual tour of SA. Thanks for putting in so much effort!

However I must say, I don't know if I'd want to visit (I'd admittedly feel really paranoid) and I'm seriously glad I don't live in a country *that* dangerous. The US gets a lot of flack in the western world, but man this thread certainly puts things into perspective. I can't imagine living in such a violent society--one wonders what went so wrong in the South African psyche.
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Old Posted Apr 7, 2016, 6:58 PM
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Very interesting city, I hope they can get over the historic divisions and ongoing inequality to help it become the world city it looks ready to be.
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Old Posted Apr 7, 2016, 7:44 PM
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Thanks for the comments! I've been putting this together slowwwwwly over the past few weeks when I have spare time here and there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by destroycreate View Post
Wow, this thread was incredible and so informative. I feel like you've literally taken me on a virtual tour of SA. Thanks for putting in so much effort!

However I must say, I don't know if I'd want to visit (I'd admittedly feel really paranoid) and I'm seriously glad I don't live in a country *that* dangerous. The US gets a lot of flack in the western world, but man this thread certainly puts things into perspective. I can't imagine living in such a violent society--one wonders what went so wrong in the South African psyche.

It's interesting - a lot of people point to apartheid ending in 1994 to the surge in crime. And while there was a large surge, research suggests it may have been quite high during apartheid as well, just things weren't reported outside of predominantly white areas. Since 1994 the murder rate has dropped from about 60 to 30 per 100,000, with Joburg being about average. At the same time, it's likely that the reporting of crimes has become more reliable. Crime may actually be lower than it was during apartheid, just more out in the open. Like here there's also a lot of sensationalist reporting about crime - the media exaggeration may even be worse.

To give an example, the City of New Orleans (a high crime city) has a murder rate of about 35 per 100k, compared to the entire Joburg metro of 30. Nola's crime is obviously centred in the municipality and the suburbs would have lower rates. Within Joburg metro there are areas with much more crime like the Townships and parts of the CBD, and areas with much less crime. I've been to both and it's not too hard to stay out of trouble.

Not to paint a rosy picture of course as it IS a huge issue that needs a ton of work. But the perception can sometimes be worse than the reality. If you ask a Joburg resident their biggest complaint about the city the most likely answer is "the traffic", which is legitimately horrible and compounded due to constant traffic light outtages.
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Old Posted Apr 7, 2016, 8:07 PM
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Phenomenal tour. Thank you!
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Old Posted Apr 7, 2016, 8:58 PM
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This was some heavy stuff. Top notch. I had never really considered SA as a travel destination before, but seeing these photos put some cracks in that mentality.
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Old Posted Apr 7, 2016, 9:58 PM
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Incredibly interesting tour, thank you.

Love the cooling towers.
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Old Posted Apr 7, 2016, 10:45 PM
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I loved this!! Thank you for the incredible photo's with the informative commentary.
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Old Posted Apr 7, 2016, 10:58 PM
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Well done. Like the best SSP photo threads, the commentary was just as enjoyable as the images. The CBD is quite extensive, isn't it? Blocks and blocks of midrises and there don't appear to be many parking lot gaps that we suffer in North America. Did you get to Pretoria, by chance?
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Old Posted Apr 7, 2016, 11:11 PM
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Yeah I have to add it was really surprising to see such a dense core, it kind of arises out of nowhere huh? The rest of the city seems extremely sprawly so I find that dichotomy pretty interesting.
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Old Posted Apr 7, 2016, 11:27 PM
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Thanks again for comments! The commentary wasn't too hard because I genuinely loved it there and wanted to learn as much as I could from talking to people.

The CBD is quite massive and spreads on in high density for quite a while. To the east and west it peters to low density but to the north and south it's separated from the rest of the city by geography. As I said it's still has a lot of abandonment and decay - but not many parking lots! I have heard its come wonders in the past 10 years and the change is palpable. The whole area has the potential to be like braamfontein and maboneng. I think the BRT and gautrain are helping considerably.
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Old Posted Apr 8, 2016, 12:08 AM
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Amazing thread! South Africa has always intrigued me, and it was great to see all theses different areas of Johannesburg
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Old Posted Apr 8, 2016, 2:13 AM
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The suburbs look kind of like Australia after the zombie apocalypse.
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Old Posted Apr 8, 2016, 3:26 AM
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This is probably the best thread I've seen on here in a long time. Fascinating. Thank you!
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Old Posted Apr 8, 2016, 3:31 AM
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Wow, loved this thread!!!
I've always wanted to visit South Africa, but doubt I'll ever make it there. The cost and flight time with several connections is quite a turn off. I love the music that comes from there, mainly Johnny Clegg. I believe Paul Simon's "Graceland" also has South Africa influence. I'd love to experience a live Zulu influenced band with the dancing. I don't know where you would see something like that, maybe Soweta.
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Old Posted Apr 8, 2016, 4:11 AM
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Absolutely incredible tour. Thank you for this.
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Old Posted Apr 8, 2016, 5:04 AM
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Great thread. I only spent a couple of days in Joburg but I was surprised by how much I liked it. It has great energy. And like you said, the situation is a lot more complex than you hear about in the media. Anyone who dismisses Joburg doesn't know what they're talking about. This is going to be one of the world's great cities in the future.

Your thoughts on Cape Town echoed mine – lovely city, much "easier" than Joburg, but also kind of parochial and noticeably more segregated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by destroycreate
However I must say, I don't know if I'd want to visit (I'd admittedly feel really paranoid) and I'm seriously glad I don't live in a country *that* dangerous. The US gets a lot of flack in the western world, but man this thread certainly puts things into perspective. I can't imagine living in such a violent society--one wonders what went so wrong in the South African psyche.
As niwell pointed out, Joburg's violent crime rates are not much different from some American cities. If you're willing to visit New Orleans or Chicago there's no reason you should avoid Joburg. People aren't cowering in fear and the city is very lively. That goes for the rest of South Africa, which is a fascinating country. As much as crime, corruption and inequality are problems, it's a place with a lot of potential. Not to mention delicious food.
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Old Posted Apr 8, 2016, 6:19 AM
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Thank you. I learned alot.
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