The precinct can be divided into the Market Precinct located north of the square which is dominated by the Market Building - home to the Market Theatre and Museum Africa. The south and northbound M1 freeway overpass dissects Newtown and adjacent Fordsburg in the west, while the railway lines to the north mark the border between Newtown and Braamfontein.
In the plans for Newtown the strict grid pattern of the CBD has been adopted. This involved formalising the townscape, developing infrastructure and strictly enforcing racial segregation. Map of Johannesburg dated in which the Brickfields can be identified.
Milner retired as High Commissioner in From to he played a prominent role in British politics. He was a strong proponent of British Empire Federalism and in became Town Clerk of Johannesburg, where he initiated a number of reform projects to modernise the administration of the City.
Under his administration electrical tramways were introduced to replace horse-drawn trams.
Curtis also played a prominent role serving on the Johannesburg Insanitary Area Improvement Scheme Commission and was a proponent of the clearance of Brickfields in favour of the redevelopment and industrialisation of Newtown.
Collectively the Arc incorporates four theatre complexes, various dance studios, live music venues, significant museum and art collections, historic sites and monuments, as well as a year-round programme of cultural events. Since a number of public artworks have also been installed in Newtown and Braamfontein. Almost from its founding, Johannesburg developed a reputation for raucous nightlife and entertainment of an often illicit nature sparking ZAR President Paul Kruger to refer to Johannesburg as a "den of iniquity".
BeforeJohannesburg boasted four theatres: Sadly, none of these remain today. The Globe theatre, built inwas the first permanent entertainment venue but was destroyed in a fire after only six months of operation. A new theatre, the Empire Palace of Varieties or The Empire for shortreplaced the Globe on the same site corner of Fox and Ferreira streets in present-day Marshalltown. The Johannesburg Art Gallery is located in Joubert Park which remained a fashionable neighbourhood until the s — and today includes cultural institutions such as the Johannesburg Art Gallery and the Drill Hall.
As African migrants flocked to the gold fields, a distinct musical culture developed in the shantytowns and mine compounds. By the s Marabi was well established as a unique blend of African and European musical styles and set the foundations for a musical tradition that would develop over the course of the next century - culminating in the great jazz period of Sophiatown in the s and 50s.
During the s Commissioner Street was the main entertainment strip of Johannesburg with its theatres, cinemas and other venues. In the s the Union of South African Artists established Dorkay House in the CBD which by the 60s had become a notable cultural institution for music, art, drama and dance.
For many years — closely associated with artist Cecil Skotnes — the centre was a major gathering space for African artists.
In the s the centre was closed due to apartheid restrictions which banished black cultural institutions to townships. In the s, 60s and 70s cosmopolitan Hillbrow with its eclectic community became the focus of night-time Johannesburg, or a "white Sophiatown". The s also saw the construction of the Civic Theatre recently renamed the Joburg Theatre in Braamfontein - with the University of the Witwatersrand theatre and the Alexander theatre built in this consolidated Braamfontein as a theatre district.
Black artists who remained in the country were mostly restricted to the townships, with the result that Soweto and Alexandra developed strong arts and cultural communities.
Sadly, the building was gutted by fire in Newtown also provides an understanding of how wider industrial and political forces came to disrupt and destroy poorer communities from racially mixed backgrounds — sometimes carried out in the name of urban regeneration while essentially serving colonial and apartheid racial policies.
Newtown on the Map
Equally significant, the suppression of labour rights became a recurrent theme in the history of Newtown. Early Johannesburg became home to many slums as people flocked to the city only to be met by an acute housing shortage - a shortage that would last for more than a century and is still present in contemporary Johannesburg. In Brickfields, early Johannesburg had one of its worst slums. Although these slums were racially integrated, some communities in particular stand out: The presence of industrial and commercial functions, however, would also mean that Newtown became a focal point for many of the industrial strikes witnessed by the City during the first half of the 20th century.
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During the Second World War, manufacturing in Newtown was even redeployed to support the war effort. The decline of Newtown from the mid 20th century came about as a result of several factors, including the waning significance of the Jeppe Street Power Station decommissioned inthe closure of the tram lines decommissioned from the late sthe construction of the freeway system in the s, the relocation of the Market to the new Fresh Produce Market in City Deep in the early s as well as apartheid racial legislation and the forced removal of communities from the inner city, Fordsburg, Pageview, Vrededorp and elsewhere which effectively deprived Newtown of a vibrant community.
The decentralisation of commercial activity to suburban malls and commercial areas like Randburg and Sandton also impacted on trade.
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Yet the decline also spurred the artistic community to take an increasing interest in the landmark structures of Newtown. Accounts of Newtown often leave out the eclectic mix of architectural styles, including Victorian, Edwardian, Beaux Arts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, modern and international, post modern and contemporary architecture.
A Short History of Newtown Origins 'I come from the newly discovered goldfields at Kliprivier, especially from a farm owned by a certain Gert Oosthuizen I have a long experience as an Australian gold digger, and I think it is a payable goldfield.
Of course the history of the area stretches back much further than the early and midth century and the arrival of the first European explorers, missionaries, traders and subsequent generations of settlers and diggers.
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While no known traces of either Stone or Iron Age habitation have been found in and around Newtown, major settlements from the Iron Age are known to have existed close to modern-day Johannesburg and the remaining vestiges of some of these sites can be visited at Melville Koppies and Klipriviersberg. The discovery of gold in the s and the subsequent building boom that followed drew hundreds of miners — to be joined by traders, adventurers and a displaced rural peasantry seeking fortunes and employment.
As the town known as Johannesburg formalised into a cosmopolitan centre, workers — both black and white and almost exclusively male — flooded in. As a result of the perpetual shortage of accommodation, slums soon developed around the Fordsburg area. Brickfields 'Let no one attempt a midnight exploration of the Brickfields without a lantern which is guaranteed to throw a light for yards distant, otherwise the chances are that he will not leave that district alive The houses are all right and gardens kept in good order.
I went down as far as the reservoirs, top one empty, lower one full. The Brickfields are a sight. Quantities of bricks set out to dry, some burnt, all work stopped. Adlam during the South African War - ' Narrow courtyards, containing dilapidated and dirty tin huts without adequate means of lighting and ventilation, huddled on an area and constructed without any regard to sanitary considerations of any kind. In the middle of each slop-sodden and filth-bestrewn yard, there is a well from which people get their water supply and they choose this place for washing purposes and urinals.
These places are dark dens. In the community lobbied the ZAR government of President Kruger for the right to manufacture bricks on government land bordering the Braamfontein spruit. As Brickfields and the adjoining areas of Fordsburg, Vrededorp and the Indian location grew, these mixed slums became known as Poverty Point. Between and 98, at which point Brickfields was already home to an estimated 7 people, it became necessary for the City to expand its railway capacity. Between and 98 when the last brickmaking activity ceased in the area, a concerted effort was made by the railway company and the Sanitary Board to get the government to cancel the brickmaking concessions and to relocate the brickmakers elsewhere.
The Great Dynamite Explosion 'Half of Fordsburg is practically laid low, and the native locations are simply a heap of iron. The blast caused by a train accidentally ramming into trolleys packed with 55 tons of dynamite could be heard in Klerksdorp km away. The resultant crater was 61 m long, 15 m wide and 8 m deep and claimed the lives of an estimated people. In the aftermath, most displaced residents moved into adjacent areas unaffected by the explosion. Heyday 'Newtown had become the home of many Litvak retail and wholesale merchants and grain brokers who came to work and competed with one another, and here they formed a subculture with its own idiosyncrasies - jokes, special events and, most importantly, the 'University of Newtown', which awarded a fictitious certificate to all those entrepreneurs and millers who learnt the grain trade on the job.
Following the destruction of the Indian location and the formation of the Union of South Africa inNewtown in the s and 20s became the first area in Johannesburg to be given industrial status. Decline 'The state had developed a whole arsenal of laws to help it achieve the unimaginable: From the early s, various proposals were made for the redevelopment of Newtown.
However Newtown continued its steady decline when the power station closed down and the cooling towers imploded in During the s many key sites and buildings such as Turbine Hall were invaded by the homeless, while open areas next to the railway lines saw the rapid rise of informal settlements.
Crime and grime became an increasing problem.
As the area technically fell outside of the official mining camp the location was largely neglected by the authorities but provided easy access to town and, as a result, attracted a racially diverse population of a mostly lower working-class background. Over the next decade the adjacent areas of Fordsburg, Vrededorp, Burghersdorp and the Brickfields became in effect co-joined multi-racial slums - sparking a series of health concerns for the authorities.
The destruction of the 'slums' was purportedly carried out in response to an outbreak of bubonic plague which had resulted in 82 deaths in the same year. This outbreak also led Mahatma Gandhi to establish an emergency hospital on a vacant stand in the area where he treated 14 patients. Inafter the clearance of the Indian Location, Joffe Marks, owner of Marks Limited, bought property in the newly-declared Newtown.
Fordsburg 'I grew up in the s, in a suburb called Fordsburg, located on the western edge of the City. There were even safe places in which to play truant from school. Under apartheid the large Indian community was constantly at risk of forced removals.
Fordsburg has, however, remained a centre of Indian culture. Newtown - Soweto 'It is an interesting historical fact that Gandhi was in Johannesburg at the foundation of such places as Soweto Pimville and Kliptown — the story of the development of these communities is linked to the destruction of the mixed Coolie Location in As a result, the displaced African, Indian and Cape Malay communities were relocated to Klipspruit Farm 25 km to the south-west of the City.
Pimville, as the settlement became known, formed the nucleus around which Soweto would grow over the next years. By the s it was already struggling to keep up with demand and by the Orlando Power Station in Soweto came into operation to handle some of the additional burden. Known as 'Cantonese Quarter' or 'Chinatown', this historic area is located in Ferreirasdorp, south of Newtown. Adjacent to this is the United Chinese Club building designed by German architect, Wilhelm Pabst, and completed in This is considered a landmark Johannesburg building of great architectural significance.
Chinese indentured labourers Following the South African War, thousands of indentured Chinese labourers were brought to the Rand to work on the mines. Many were subject to horrific abuse. The workers returned to China in and as a result of political opposition and repeated protests by the citizens of Johannesburg against their presence. Wilhelm Pabst — Pabst was born in Germany and educated in Berlin where he worked with leading modernists including Mies van der Rohe.
The United Chinese Club building in Commissioner Street is one of his key projects and is considered an architectural landmark. Ferreirasdorp Ferreirastown Ferreirasdorp or Ferreirastown was one of the first mining camps that sprung up at the time of the discovery of gold in the s.
It was named after Colonel Ignatius Philip Ferreira who set up a prospectors' camp prior to the official proclamation of the Reef as mining land. The camp was named Ferreiras Camp. Later, the area was home to a large coloured community and in a site was set aside for a church St. The original wood and iron structure was replaced by the present structure built in and designed by architect Frank Fleming.
In the s, under the Group Areas Act, the coloured community was forcibly moved. Colonel Ignatius Philip Ferreira — Speculator and early Johannesburg pioneer, Ferreira participated in the diamond and gold rushes of Kimberley, the eastern Transvaal and finally the Witwatersrand where he formed the Ferreira Company syndicate and the Ferreira Gold Mining Company. One of the abandoned mines of the Ferreira Gold Mining Company was discovered in the mids.
The old stope can still be seen at the Standard Bank corporate head offices in nearby Marshalltown.