Walking Downtown Joburg With Gerald

by | Dec 3, 2020 | Johannesburg, Johannesburg City Centre, Museums and Buildings | 10 comments

I recently spent a Friday walking around downtown Joburg with Gerald Garner. Gerald needed a few photos taken for his new book, Johannesburg 2020 and Ahead. So we walked the city from end to end — nearly nine kilometers total, with a couple of Uber rides mixed in — chatting about recent developments in town as Gerald pointed out the different buildings and scenes he needed me to shoot.

Heather's car at Thunderwalker in downtown Joburg
My car in front of the Thunderwalker, Gerald’s downtown tourism and events venue on Gandhi Square.

Gerald and I have worked together for years; many of the places we visited were places I’ve been before on Gerald’s JoburgPlaces tours. But it’s been a while since I really dug in to the city like this, and I’m still seeing everything with fresh eyes after the hard lockdown. I loved every minute of the walk — it was one of my favorite days of the year so far.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures.

Historic building in downtown Joburg
A historic building on Eloff Street.
Mangos for sale on Kerk Street
We walked the length of the Kerk Street Market — downtown Joburg’s pedestrianized outdoor shopping street — and I took tons of pictures of the different vendors. This part of town looks fantastic right now.
Kerk Street sign in downtown Joburg
Rea Vaya station at the corner of Kerk and Rissik.
Fruit for sale on Kerk Street
I could spend a whole day photographing fruit displays on Kerk Street.
Restaurants and shops at FNB Bank City, on a pedestrianized section of Simmonds Street. Bank City is another beautifully renovated part of downtown — I need to devote a future blog post to it.
Beyers Naude Square, Joburg
The “Democracy Is Dialogue” sculpture, by Lawrence Lemaoana, in Beyers Naude Square.
Rand Club
The Rand Club. I’m always trying to photograph this building head-on and it never looks good because it won’t quite fit into the frame of my wide-angle lens. Thanks to Gerald for suggesting we try photographing it from the side.
Gandhi Square
Mid-day in Gandhi Square.
Busy scene on Jeppe Street
Busy scene on Rahima Moosa Street, formerly Jeppe Street, in Little Addis.
Jewel City, downtown Joburg
Jewel City is a new residential/retail development — just finished as lockdown was ending — next to Maboneng. I walked through Jewel City briefly a few months ago but hadn’t been back since it officially opened. I can’t believe how great it looks.
Banger of a mural by Nard Star. Jewel City has become the best place in town for street art photography.
School girls in Jewel City
Sassy school girls.
James XVI Ethiopian
James XVI, my favorite Ethiopian in Joburg. I tried to just say hi to James in passing, but he would not let us go without serving us coffee first. It was great to see James again after many months away.
Gerald at Bertrand in Maboneng
We finished our walk in Maboneng. Here’s Gerald enjoying a mineral water at Bertrand Café.

Thanks for the walk, Gerald.

If you’d like to hear more about Gerald’s new book (I’m personally very excited to see it), there’s a launch at Thunderwalker next Thursday, 10 December, at 6:30 p.m.


  1. AutumnAshbough

    That looks like so much fun. Okay, going anywhere right now sounds like so much fun.

    • 2summers

      I hear you. Our case numbers are creeping up again…I’m trying to make a little gay while the sun shines.

      • Albert

        Great photos. I like the looks of Jewel City

        • 2summers

          Yes it’s great!

  2. Nicci

    Such beautiful images! I used to live in Cape Town, but I’m in Joburg now. Your posts were one of the reasons I wanted to come here…Joburg is so wonderful through your eyes.

    • 2summers

      Well, that is music to my ears (eyes). Thank you so much Nicci!

  3. sparrowsaltsun7570Rob

    I live right near Gandhi Square so I see Thunder Walker all the time and it’s been a complete enigma. Sometimes it’s open, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes the entrance is via Gandhi sometimes via Fox. Sometimes it’s fenced off like a corporate events venue, sometimes it looks like it’s open to the public. And the boards in Fox seem to indicate that it only sells alcohol-free drinks. But I’ve never been in because I’ve never been sure if it’s actually open when I’ve actually had time available as I walked past – plus from Fox it’s always looked empty (from Gandhi you can’t tell). It’s located on such prime real estate and the owner is not extracting anything like the value that is sitting there.

    • 2summers

      Yes, it’s an events venue and hence it’s opening hours and decor change frequently. Also…It’s a pandemic? Not the easiest time to be running a new tourism venue in the inner city. I would suggest taking the time to call, find out a good time to visit, and actually take a look inside before dismissing it.

  4. Margaret Urban

    Thanks so much for this Heather, especially Jewel City which I I hope will work for residents who will ‘take ownership’ and keep it looking great. I’m looking forward to a visit.

    • 2summers

      Thanks Margaret! Jewel City looks very promising – I have high hopes for it.


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