There are many tales of woe in Joburg right now: building fires, exploding streets, absent mayors, water outages, an ever-widening wealth gap, and a general spiral of doom. And these stories aren’t exaggerated. The struggle is real, people…The city is in a dire situation and it’s hard to stay positive sometimes.
But a walk through town with JoburgPlaces is a great antidote to the Jozi blues.
Last weekend, Thorsten and I took Thorsten’s parents on the JoburgPlaces “Fashion District and Little Addis” walking tour. I’ve walked through (and blogged about) these parts of downtown Jozi many times, but it never gets old or repetitive. Things are always changing. And it’s comforting to see that despite all of the inner city’s problems, people are still getting on with their lives.
Here are some pictures. I’ve divided my post into several points of interest — just a selection of the things we saw during our four-hour tour.
Point of Interest #1: Old Johannesburg Stock Exchange
Our tour, led by Jozi expert Charlie Moyo, started at the old Johannesburg Stock Exchange building at 17 Diagonal Street. This building was the fifth of six different buildings that the JSE has occupied since 1887, and it was the last stock exchange building in the Joburg inner city before the JSE moved to its current home in Sandton in 2000.
Charlie took us onto the old JSE trading floor, which has been frozen in time for the past 23 years.
Read a bit more about the old JSE building in this 2019 post about secret places in Joburg.
Point of Interest #2: Kerk Street Market
Kerk Street is a pedestrianized street running right through the center of downtown Joburg, where street vendors sell fruit and veg and a variety of other items. I’ve taken many photos on Kerk Street over the years (see some in this post); it was good to see the market is still going strong.
Point of Interest #3: Jozi Fashion District
Point of Interest #4: Little Addis
I’ve also written extensively about “Little Addis”, the maze of Ethiopian shops and restaurants — mostly inside a former medical building — on Rahima Moosa Street in downtown Jozi. So I won’t repeat myself. But this place is always a delight to visit and photograph.
Point of Interest #5: The old Joburg Sun
The old Joburg Sun hotel, like the Carlton Hotel a few blocks away, is a great Joburg mystery. Opened as a luxury hotel in 1985, with 672 rooms, the Joburg Sun closed only 13 years later and has been mothballed ever since. I don’t know a single person who has been inside the Joburg Sun since it closed, although many have tried. I’m so curious to know what it looks like in there.
It boggles my mind that a building this huge, which could house thousands of people in a city with one of the world’s most acute housing crises, has been sitting empty for the past 25 years. But such is life in Jozi: fascinating, confounding, maddening, heartbreaking. I’m still in love with this place.
This was a good tour. To book a JoburgPlaces walk of your own, contact Gerald at firstname.lastname@example.org or +27-82-894-5216 (WhatsApp only).