Reviews of Hillbrow are conflicting. On the one hand, nobody will approach it. High-rise apartment complexes crammed with migrants and refugees, hijackings, murder, and prostitution are some of the topics they discuss.
They claim that Hillbrow has frightening crime rates and hosts New Year’s celebrations where couches, refrigerators, and TVs are hurled out of windows. Unchecked inner-city lawlessness is in charge. Some refer to it as the city’s crime capital. In 2007, BBC Two aired a documentary titled Law and Disorder in Johannesburg that explored the lawlessness that existed in some areas of the city, including Hillbrow, the setting for Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City.
Others, though, have differing recollections of it. It was a primarily white neighbourhood during apartheid that was renowned for its tolerance; it was one of the few “grey” regions where members of various ethnic communities congregated in a politically liberal and cosmopolitan culture. It had a young, creative, and artistic populace, and the streets were always busy. And since 2007 things have changed.
Today, neighbourhood programs like Ekhaya Neighbourhood work to reduce crime and keep the streets clean; walking tours are offered by organizations like Dlala Nje, a regeneration initiative working to transform the appearance of Hillbrow and Ponte, the tallest high-rise cylindrical building that dominates the inner city skyline, along with the Hillbrow Tower and its highly visible pink ball; violent crime is down, and new year’s celebrations are less disorderly.
Buildings have been recaptured and rebuilt by the hijackers (gangs of criminals who occupy buildings from their landlords forcibly). However, not every structure is secure or spotless. While occurring, the improvement is gradual.
Since there is evidence of police corruption, such as drug deals taking place right in front of police cars, children playing in parks while drug dealers conduct business, and prostitutes roaming the streets, Hillbrow heavily depends on the civic partnership, policing forum volunteers, and the community to improve.
The suburb is still plagued by crime, overcrowding, and poverty.
Contact Dlala Nje, the Lutheran Community Outreach foundation, the Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust, or Joburg Places if you’re a visitor if you’re interested in walking tours. It is not safe to wander around Hillbrow alone, but those who have suggest that you should go if you have the chance.
In Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, South Africa, a residential neighbourhood known as Hillbrow is located. It is well-known for its high rates of crime, prostitution, unemployment, and poverty.
History of Hillbrow
The suburb was located on government-owned Randjeslaagte land before the Witwatersrand’s discovery of gold in 1886, which is now the Johannesburg CBD. The proposed community is located at the northern tip of a triangle-shaped waste area that was once used for farming. The suburb’s name derives from the fact that it is at the base of the east-west mountain ridge that runs through the heart of Johannesburg.
J. Nicholls owned the land as claims, which he sold to Transvaal Mortgage, Loan & Finance Company. In 1894 and 1895, Richard Currie held an auction for the stands as it was being built out as a residential area. It was incorporated into the Johannesburg Sanitary Board in 1897. Developers began buying the stands at prices beyond their value after World War Two, and they finally converted them into apartment buildings.
Midway through the 20th century, Hillbrow became known for its expanding LGBT community. From the 1960s onward, a lot of LGBT businesses and publications were established in Hillbrow. Because of the size and strength of the LGBT population in Hillbrow, the conservative National Party, which established apartheid, ran Leon de Beer as a gay rights candidate in the 1987 elections. Exit, a Hillbrow-based homosexual journal, actively promoted De Beer’s successful campaign. He promised to push gay rights in parliament and restore Hillbrow as a whites-only neighbourhood. He received enough support from the LGBT community during his campaign to win the election, making him the first elected person in South Africa to do so.
One of the first HIV training and resource centres in South Africa was founded in Hillbrow in 1990, initially serving predominantly white gay males. The population in need of HIV-related care in Hillbrow underwent a major racial shift at the same time, and by the late 1990s, the clinics were primarily serving black heterosexual women. Hillbrow suffered severe deterioration, and within a decade, the majority of the LGBT community—which was predominately white—left the neighbourhood.
Things You Need To Know About Hillbrow, Johannesburg
In 1970s Hillbrow Was A White-Only Neighbourhood
Hillbrow’s middle-class, predominately white citizens moved to the suburbs after the end of apartheid. Beautiful parks, towers, cafes, and restaurants are what they left behind. Unfortunately, the neighbourhood deteriorated into a gang- and crime-ridden shell of what it once was.
Johannesburg’s Tallest Structure Calls the Neighbourhood Home
The city council abolished height limitations in 1946. Following then, some of Johannesburg’s tallest structures were constructed. The renowned Hillbrow Tower is a Johannesburg landmark and is 269 meters (882 feet) tall. The tower was originally known as the JG Strijdom Tower before being called simply the Hillbrow Tower. The Telkom Joburg Tower is the new name for the structure.
Constitution Hill is Situated in Hillbrow
Formerly housing a jail for men, women, and children, Constitution Hill is now home to the South African Constitutional Court and a representation of democracy and hope. One of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, the location serves as a museum that chronicles South Africa’s transition to democracy.
The Neighbourhood is Also Home to Africa’s Tallest Residential Skyscraper
Hillbrow is home to The Ponte City Apartments, the tallest residential building in Africa at 173 meters (567 feet). The apartment complex is hollow spherical surrounded by residences that have all undergone consistent renovations. Due to the building’s reasonable rent and breathtaking city views, a lot of young professionals are now attracted to the area and this building in particular. Danny Boyle, known for directing the movie Trainspotting, must have been rather taken with the Ponte City Apartments because he has been quoted as saying that he would like to use the structure as a film set.
Hillbrow is Slowly but Surely Being Rejuvenated
The inner city of Johannesburg is rapidly being revitalized, and Hillbrow is no exception. Children from the neighbourhood who have nowhere else to go can find safety at Dlala Nje, a location at the foot of the Ponte City Apartments. In order to expose people to the energy that Hillbrow has to offer, they regularly organize tours of the neighbourhood.
The Ekhaya Neighbourhood program, meanwhile, aims to create a residential neighbourhood in a deteriorating, impoverished area. The word “at home” is ekhaya.
The City’s Oldest Park is Located in Hillbrow
Given that records go as far back as 1906, Joubert Park might be Johannesburg’s oldest park. With about 20,000 visitors every day, the park is one of the most popular green areas in the city. A portion of the park has been converted into a vegetable garden, and there are numerous shops there that offer anything from food to apparel and smoke.
Hillbrow is Home to the Largest Art Collection in the Country
One of the largest art collections in the nation is kept at the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG), which is located in Joubert Park. The collections include artwork by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, JH Pierneef, Walter Battiss, and many others in addition to paintings from the 17th century by the Dutch.