Newtown, a neighbourhood in Johannesburg inner city, is at the centre of the city’s revitalization and self-reinvention. Newtown is a sizable region that is bordered on the east and west by Quinn Street and West Street, respectively, and situated between the M2 freeway in the south and the railway lines to the north.
The Nelson Mandela Bridge, which connects Braamfontein and Newtown and can transport about 3000 cars per hour, is what makes the city so accessible from the north. Taken into account, Newtown, Johannesburg is today a mixed-use neighbourhood with a vibrant and distinct character, especially when you consider its cultural amenities. In 1974, a dilapidated Edwardian market hall was transformed into a cultural hub that gave some of the nation’s top actors and playwrights a stage. This transformation gave rise to the legendary Market Theatre, which played a significant role in South African theatre throughout the apartheid era.
Three theatres, two galleries of art, and a flea market continue to operate out of the complex on Saturday mornings. Despite being closed for two years, Kippies, a jazz venue in Newtown that is housed in the former Songwriters’ Club, is named after the great saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi.
The bustling Oriental Plaza is only around the corner from the market complex. Here, every shopkeeper owns his establishment, and the brilliant colour of the crowded complex is a pure treat. Rolls of cloth spill out onto tables, pots, pans, and utensils. Kiosks selling hair accessories, electronics, leather goods, fashion, and incense combine wonderfully with kiosks selling samoosas and chilli.
History Of Newtown, Johannesburg
The Brickfields was the initial name for the Newtown, Johannesburg Precinct at the turn of the 20th century. Because brick making was the most common way to make money in this region due to the abundance of clay, it was even better if one owned their own clay mixer. Around 7000 residents of all races were residing in the Brickfields neighbourhood, subsequently known as Burghersdorp, by 1896.
Many businesses and foreign immigrants purchased stands in Burghersdorp since this land was close to the railroad line and the city’s centre. Trading firms, banks, brick manufacturers, breweries, and fisheries soon followed. Along Locatie (now known as Carr Street), which led to the station, several Indians opened stores and restaurants.
In order to fight the bubonic plague that had spread, the fire department set the neighbourhood on fire in April 1904, consuming everything in the ensuing firestorm. By October 1904, the area had been surveyed, hastily replanned, and given the new name of Newtown. a bustling commercial district where enormous riches in milling, sugar production, and food commerce would be created. Today, Newtown is equated with the history and culture of South Africa, particularly Johannesburg. As a result, it is frequently referred to as the Cultural Precinct.
Things To Do At Newtown, Johannesburg
Visit Museum Africa
This impressive structure (museum Africa), which was previously a fruit and vegetable market from 1913, now holds a sizable collection of photographic history and apparatus that dates all the way back to the invention of the first cameras. Other antiquities, such as Victorian carriages and African tribal masks, are kept in the museum as well.
The history of Africa is explored, taking visitors back to the heyday of the early countries. From the eras of Punt, Kush, and Kemet (today known as Egypt) (Somalia). Visitors will gain a special understanding of prehistoric African societies because of the extensive collection of rock art and artefacts from Africa.
See Sci-Bono Discovery Centre
The largest science centre in Africa, Sci-Bono Discovery Centre is the newest and most exciting science centre in Gauteng. It is a specially designed edutainment destination where students, teachers, families, businesses, and tourists can actively engage in thrilling and enjoyable activities in mathematics, science, and technology.
Sci-Bono is an initiative of the Gauteng Department of Education and representatives from the private sector. Its goal is to support education in mathematics, science, and technology in order to increase public interest in these vital fields of the economy and to encourage career education in these fields.
The Centre for Science Education in Newtown, Johannesburg, is housed in the former Electric Workshop building and offers an accessible teaching and learning environment with “hands-on” exhibits, science stage shows, and creative workshops that illustrate a variety of scientific and mathematical concepts. By demystifying science and enhancing public awareness of SET, its main goal is to significantly contribute to the development of increased proficiency in SET.
A Tour At The Workers Museum
Previously, the Newtown Precinct was home to numerous factories, storage facilities, and the power plant that is now known as the Turbine Hall. In the district, there was a diversified population of employees that represented every race. But the housing they shared was a sharp contrast. The employees of the power plant were divided based on race; whereas competent white employees lived in homes, non-white employees were housed in dormitories, cramped together in rooms with no privacy.
These power station homes and hostels are still standing today as a reminder of the prejudice and segregation that formerly prevailed. Walking into the rooms and restrooms these men formerly occupied while labouring to provide for their distant families is a sobering experience.
The Market Theatre
Without spending the evening at this renowned theatre, which became famous for being the first integrated theatre and for playing a crucial role in the fight against apartheid by promoting discussion and questioning ideas, a trip to Johannesburg would be incomplete.
Three theatres, a bar, an art gallery, and the second of the renowned Moyo restaurants are all located at the Market Theatre. The Market Theatre complex is also home to the excellent jazz club Kippie’s International Jazz Club, which is named for the renowned saxophonist Kippie Morolong Moeketsi and is modelled after an old Victorian lavatory. With live performances by regional and worldwide artists, this cosy jazz club is sure to keep its customers swinging till the wee hours of the morning.
The facility still has a market-like atmosphere and vitality. The theatre itself is rich in theatrical history, from the plays by Athol Fugard that had their world premieres there through musicals like Sarafina that won Grammy and Tony awards.
Bensusan Museum of Photography
A collection of uncommon and priceless precisely-made photographic equipment can be found in the Bensusan Museum of Photography in Johannesburg. A very early Daguerre camera, purchased by his English rival WH Fox Talbot in 1839, the year when photography was first introduced as a new art form, is one specimen on display.
The collector’s gallery demonstrates how inventive engineering solutions were used to overcome what seemed to be insurmountable difficulties in the development of photography. The museum also gathers photographs created with this gear, ranging from the earliest wet-plate prints through 3D experiments like holograms and stereoscopic views.
The museum specializes in keeping South African photographers’ work alive. Along the way, multimedia presentations, darkrooms, and interactive toys impart fundamental knowledge of photography, light and the moving picture, and optics.
Market on Main
“Food + Design” is presented by Maboneng Precinct every Sunday at Arts On Main. The creative team behind the Black Coffee and Love Jozi labels, Jacques van der Watt and Bradley Kirschenbaum, have added “Market on Main” to their resume and regularly gather the finest of Gauteng.
Fine food, design goods, regional farmers, gourmet goods, plants and herbs, fresh fruit, cut flowers, organic producers, and independent brewers are all available to the Jozi audience. The Bioscope, Johannesburg’s independent film house, which is located away from Arts on Main but is still a part of the Maboneng Precinct, will show children’s movies so that parents may shop, browse, and unwind at their leisure while their kids are entertained.