In February 2012 I went on a tour of Art Deco architecture in the East Rand, organized by the Joburg Photowalkers. I have fond memories of that tour — I loved getting to know this far-flung part of Joburg that I had never visited before. The East Rand was quirky and weird and I liked it. (Read my post about the 2012 tour.) When I saw the Joburg Photowalkers were doing another East Rand Art Deco tour last weekend, I signed up immediately. I brought my friend Ruth, a relative newcomer to Joburg who hadn’t been to the East Rand before. The East Rand, now officially called Ekurhuleni, is the municipality east of the City of Joburg. There are several small towns on the East Rand — Benoni and Springs are the most prominent — which were prosperous gold-mining towns in the early- and mid-20th century. During the 1920s and 30s, these towns produced an inordinate number of Art-Deco-style buildings. Like many small towns around the world, the East Rand’s towns have declined over the last several decades. Most of the beautiful Art Deco buildings are still there, and many of them are nicely preserved. But many of the buildings have decayed significantly. In some […]
At this time last year I put my first-ever limited-edition print, “Hazy Blue Hour”, up for sale on my blog. The sale went remarkably well — I sold all ten prints — so I’ve decided to make it an annual event. I hearby introduce my second limited-edition print, “Brixton on Fire”: Thanks to Martin Gibbs Photography and Framing in Pretoria for helping me to get this photo ready for printing. I’ve said this many times, but you guys are the best. Some of you may remember this picture, which I shot a few months ago while working on the Canon Iconic Buildings campaign. I took several photos of my favorite Joburg buildings and Canon chose one of them for a magazine ad campaign. Canon selected my shot from inside the core of Ponte City for their ad. (See all of my original iconic building photos in this post.) I also asked my readers to vote for their favorite iconic building shot, with the idea that I would use the winner for my next limited-edition print. But there was no clear consensus — everyone seemed to have a different favorite. In the end I chose the picture that I like best: a shot of the Sentech Tower, also known […]
Here’s an article I wrote about Hallmark House, the Maboneng Precinct’s most recent development project, for JHBLive. (Read the original JHBLive article.) I’m also working on a follow-up opinion piece about Maboneng, coming soon. Enjoy: I have always thought of Maboneng as a place: a trendy place, along Fox Street on the east side of the Joburg CBD, where I go for breakfast at Market on Main on Sunday mornings or to eat Ethiopian food on Saturday afternoons. I go to Maboneng for art exhibitions, for urban photowalks, and to entertain my aunt from New York when she passes through Joburg on her way to the Kruger. But I recently went to the opening of Hallmark House, a 15-story building on Siemert Road that Maboneng is redeveloping. And now I realise that Maboneng is not just a place. It’s a thing. Looking up at Hallmark House, formerly called Hallmark Towers. Propertuity, the company that created Maboneng, is buying buildings all over the city – branching out slowly from its little enclave along Fox Street – and earmarking those buildings for development. Hallmark House, formerly called Hallmark Towers, is the grandest Maboneng undertaking to date. Propertuity is transforming the tower into […]
I love Joburg. I love Joburg buildings. I love shooting pictures of Joburg buildings. I love shooting pictures of Joburg buildings with my Canon. For all of the reasons listed above, I was stoked when Canon hired me to shoot pictures of iconic Joburg buildings for an advertising campaign they’re working on. I was out the door, camera in hand, almost before I hung up the phone. I’ve spent the past few weeks driving all over Joburg looking for the perfect iconic building photo. Here are my favorites, in the order that I took them: Looking up from inside the core of Ponte City. View from the 30th floor of Ponte City (thanks for letting me borrow your apartment, Ryan), featuring the Hillbrow Tower and various Hillbrow high-rises. Another view of the Hillbrow Tower from the 30th floor of Ponte. Ponte City on a Sunday morning, viewed from Yeoville Ridge. Yeoville Ridge is my #1 favorite Jozi skyline viewpoint. The people in the foreground are Zionist Christians who come to the ridge to pray. Another view of Hillbrow and the Hillbrow Tower, also from Yeoville Ridge. Hillbrow Tower, shot from the ramparts of Constitution Hill. As you can see I really like […]
I recently decided to get out of town for a few days to work on a writing project. I wanted to stay somewhere inexpensive, relatively close to Joburg, and conducive to thinking and writing. I pulled up Tripadvisor and and started browsing B&Bs around Magaliesburg. One click led to another and I found myself on the listing for Willinga Lodge, a small B&B in Kosmos on Hartbeespoort Dam. Willinga’s website didn’t blow me away but there were some nice Tripadvisor reviews and something prompted me to call. After 90 seconds on the phone with Ingrid, Willinga’s owner, I knew I’d be staying there. Willinga’s full name is “Bali at Willinga Lodge”. Ingrid and Will, who are from the Netherlands but have lived in South Africa for decades, visited Bali several years ago and loved it so much that they decided to redecorate their lodge in a Balinese style. A Balinese B&B, run by a Dutch couple, on Hartbeespoort Dam in South Africa…Sounds weird, right? Just trust me though. It works. A Buddha outside the main house at Willinga Lodge. View of Hartbeespoort Dam from my breakfast table at Willinga. Willinga Lodge’s incredible Balinese roof, which was designed and built in Bali and then shipped to South […]
Downtown Joburg enthusiasts are buzzing about the Sheds @1Fox. This is one of those quintessentially Jozi projects that make me love living in this city. In short: There is a complex of cavernous, historic warehouses where Fox Street dead-ends on the western edge of the city. These warehouses were formerly part of Anglo American and are now owned by the Johannesburg Land Company. Until recently, the buildings were slated to be torn down to make way for an office building. But a group of Jozi-lovers, including Gerald Garner of JoburgPlaces and Jan and Jay Roode of Happy.Me, are now working with the Johannesburg Land Company to develop the warehouses into an innovative “food, wine and lifestyle emporium”. The Sheds @1Fox are scheduled to open during the Joburg City Festival in October 2014. The buildings are currently empty except for some piles of rubbish, crude graffiti, and lots (and lots) of pigeon poop. Construction will start any day now. This week I got a behind-the-scenes look at what will soon become the Sheds @1Fox. I took about 1,000 pictures, knowing this was my last chance to photograph the place before everything changes. I suspect that the before-and-after comparison will be dramatic. In the meantime, here is the “before”: Gerald outside one of the warehouses. […]
The Hillbrow Tower was neutered last month. The giant sphere that floated atop the Hillbrow Tower (aka Telkom Tower) for the last four years — painted first like a soccer ball (for the 2010 World Cup) and later like a hot pink dot (an ad for Telkom’s 8•ta mobile phone service) — came down in September. A before-and-after Hillbrow Tower Instagram. Telkom is phasing out 8•ta as a brand, replacing it with Telkom Mobile. This is at least one of the reasons why Telkom removed the ball.
So here I am, back in America. I landed at Dulles Airport yesterday morning. I’m really happy to be back in Washington D.C. — much happier than I expected to be. I’d forgotten how much I like it here. I’m staying with my friends Bob and Tim in their lovely apartment in Shaw. I didn’t know much about Shaw, which is in the Northwest quadrant of D.C. near Howard University, before this trip. It’s a beautiful part of town with an interesting history. Hopefully I’ll tell you more about it in a future post but at the moment I’m too tired. Last night we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant nearby. (Again, I’ll definitely have more to say about that in a future post.) I snapped a few pictures of the neighborhood during our walk back home.
Tall buildings dominate the Joburg skyline. I visit and write about the city’s tallest buildings all the time — the Carlton Center, Ponte City, and the Hillbrow Tower are some of my favorites. I love looking at the city from the tops of tall buildings. This Instagram was taken from the roof of the Lister Building, near Joubert Park. However, Joburg has some lovely little buildings too. The Turret, on the corner of Marshall and Loveday Streets, is my favorite little building in town.
My recent tour of Ponte City, hosted by Mainstreetwalks and Dlala Nje, included a Saturday-afternoon stroll in Hillbrow. I go to Hillbrow at least a couple of times a week for boxing training but I don’t walk around the neighborhood with my camera very often, especially not on weekends when the streets are most busy. So I was excited for this opportunity. Art deco apartment block in Hillbrow.
Ponte City is a mythical place. Ponte City, the tallest residential building in Africa. Ponte City is the most visually striking structure in Johannesburg, and its history is as fascinating as its appearance. Ponte has 54 floors and hundreds of flats. A few decades ago it was a trendy middle-class apartment building. Later it became the city’s largest brothel and dope den, ruled by gangs, thugs, pimps, and dealers.