Johannesburg’s first decade was marked by explosive growth. During these ten years, the triangular piece of uitvalgrond/left-over-ground that marked its original boundary, Randjeslaagte, was consumed with economic activity. It became the center for a city exploding in wealth, roads leading east and west followed the richest known gold reserves
in the world, where mountains were being excavated from the earth. Yet unlike other mining towns in the world, Johnannesburg’s gold was trapped in hard rock and in minuscule, but constant, amounts. Thus the strike-it-lucky-miner had no place in this city of riches.
Johannesburg from its earliest days was a place of capital, social savvy, toughness, extreme contrasts and converging cultures.
This high intensity growth has followed Johannesburg to this present
day. That once unwanted triangle has been absorbed by untold growth,
it has become the center of Africa’s richest city, teeming with possibility. And as we trace the lines that started this city on its journey in 1886, Commissioner Street, Diagonal Street and End Street, we take a journey back into time questioning the historical underpinnings that have become the narrative of the city.
Museum Africa Photo Archive
JAS. Gray, 1937. Payable Gold. Central News Agency, Pretoria.
A. P. Cartwright, 1965. The Corner House, The Early History of Johannesburg. Purnell & Sons. Niel Hirschon, 1974. The Naming of Johannesburg as an Historical Commentary. Nugget Press, Johannesburg.
Charles van Onselen, 1892. Studies in the Economic History of the Witwatersrand 1886-1914, 1 New Babylon. Ravan Press, Johannesburg.
Goethe-Institut Johannesburg, Cara Snyman, Matteo Lucchetti, Stephen Hobbs, Donna Kukama, Thiresh Govender, Celina Cachucho, Manuel Cachucho, Brendan Copestake.
Johannesburg 2012 and 1886-1896.
7 June – 1 July 2012
Publication made possible by Goethe-Institut Johannesburg and Glass South Africa