One of Johannesburg’s oldest neighbourhoods, Parktown is home to some pretty imposing homes that rival those in London in terms of grandiosity. Parktown is located between Westcliff and Saxonwold. These opulent mansions, some of which had fancy turrets and towers, were built by some of the most prosperous businessmen of their time and came to be known as “Parktown baronial.” The architects showed a clear tendency toward eclecticism, reflecting the original owners’ desire for parties, croquet on the lawns, and lavish parties. That is until Herbert Baker brought his own artistry to the neighbourhood, which included The Stonehouse, his own residence on the ridge.
As one of Johannesburg’s most affluent neighbourhoods today, Parktown is known for its Victorian houses and numerous Sir Herbert Baker designs. Additionally, locals and guests can now go visit some of these stunning homes rather than just driving by and gawking. The Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust offers weekly tours of the city’s past, one of which is in Victorian Parktown, where you can see The View, the oldest mansion in Johannesburg, which was erected in 1896.
When vacationing in Parktown, it’s easy to get to both Johannesburg’s downtown and its northern suburbs, including Sandton. The picturesque villages of Parkview and Melville, both of which offer eateries, art galleries, and little boutique-style shops that demand instant and prolonged investigation, are nearby, as are the Johannesburg Zoo and Zoo Lake.
History Of Parktown
Edouard Lippert acquired a sizable portion of the Braamfontein Farm in 1890. In honour of his wife, Marie, he rebuilt the farm home on a ridge and gave it the name Marienhof. In order to serve the demands of the miners and the rapidly growing city, he planted the Sachsenwald Forest on the vast plain that the ridge overlooks. He divided the land into sections after recognizing the potential that the hill held for development as a community. Lady Florence Phillips discovered the crest in 1892 while riding north from the arid mining settlement of early Johannesburg.
From the Sachsenwald forest in the west to the Magaliesberg mountains and Pretoria in the north, the vista was expansive. She convinced her husband to have a home built there, and Frank Emley was hired to construct their luxurious estate, Hohenheim. The new affluent suburb, Parktown, emerged swiftly. Soon, many affluent businesspeople (see Randlord) began constructing houses along the ridge to display their wealth with parties, croquet on the lawns, and expensive meals.
Many of the Jameson Raid conspirators against the South African Republic were based in Parktown. Many Victorian and Edwardian homes as well as some Sir Herbert Baker designs may be found in the neighbourhood today.
56 of the elegant mansions were destroyed in the late 1960s to make room for the Johannesburg College of Education (now Wits Education Campus). For the construction of the M1 motorway, a key artery running north to south through the middle of the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, many additional buildings were reduced in size and demolished in 1975.
West of Jan Smuts Avenue is where Parktown West is located. It is renowned for its lovely avenues lined with Jacaranda and Plane trees, popularly known as the “itchy ball tree,” and is almost exclusively residential. Only the western portion of Jan Smuts Avenue is open to commerce. Parktown West began to take shape in 1903 and saw a sharp rise in popularity in the 1920s and 1930s.
One of the oldest residential neighbourhoods in the city with a quite interesting history is Parktown North, which is located in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg about north of Rosebank. Parktown North gets its name rather obviously from the fact that it is located north of the suburb of Parktown.
The Randlords, who back then controlled the diamond and gold mining industries, built their enormous manor residences on Parktown Ridge during the Gauteng gold rush, while Parktown North was originally used as their impoverished relatives’ living area.
Even though it is close to Jan Smuts Avenue, one of Johannesburg’s busiest thoroughfares that makes getting around the city that much simpler, these “poorer” homes are now highly sought-after colonial-style homes, and Parktown North, which has its own very active residents’ association, has an enviable village atmosphere.
When living in Parktown North, the centre of Johannesburg’s northern suburbs, there is no shortage of things to do. Many commercial and retail establishments can be found at Rosebank, which is also the location of the well-known African Market and Rooftop Craft Market (which, if nothing else, is worth visiting for the cheese alone). The stylish towns of Parkhurst, Greenside, Melville, and Norwood with their alluring high street culture, antique stores, intriguing eateries, and coffee shops are all nearby, and there are many restaurants to pick from in Parktown North.