Gauteng DestinationsJohannesburg Central, Johannesburg
Jo’burg’s inner city has had its share of stigma. The 1990s, after the Group Areas Act was scrapped, brought thousands of people who had been forbidden to live here, into the city centre, many of them immigrants from war torn African nations and others from surrounding black townships. Crime levels rose, the state of many buildings in Johannesburg’s centre deteriorated and business fled to the northern suburbs and Sandton. Johannesburg’s centre became a problem.
But government has been quick to revive the city centre. Drastic measures to reduce crime and a whole urban development effort, including a tax incentive scheme aimed at encouraging inner city renewal, are reviving the inner city. The beautiful arc that is the Nelson Mandela bridge, which leads across to the Market Theatre, touted as the city’s cultural focus, was just the beginning.
The draft inner city charter is incredibly ambitious and in its scope it commits to some 77 deadlines that will turn Jo’burg central into a safe, flourishing and liveable city. Included in these plans are 5000 short-term accommodation units and 50 000 affordable flats. Plans for more visible policing as well as the refurbishing of streets and the planting of trees to make the streets of Johannesburg walkable are also planned.
Johannesburg’s inner city is dynamic and things change by the minute. Whilst it may have been ‘off limits’ for the past decade, Newtown’s regeneration and private redevelopment of historical office buildings in the city’s financial district have combined to make elements of the city attractive. And there are other attractions like the planetarium and the Johannesburg Fort, a tour of the old prison fort where famous activists were held prisoner.