Newtown at a glance
Newtown is a legendary cultural precinct situated in central Johannesburg, located more on the Western sector of the city’s central business district. Newtown houses many theatres, art galleries, museums and other attractions influenced by the arts which form part of the city’s vibrant cultural and creative hub. The town is tremendously rich in history and is an integral part of the city’s regeneration. Due to successful urban renewal and development strategies, Newtown which was once a decaying node is now a tourist attraction, cultural area and residential zone that is appealing to many students. The upgrading of existing buildings and recreational spaces have transformed Newtown into a safe, secure and attractive environment to live, study, work and visit. Ongoing regeneration projects include several housing developments that cater for individuals with varied levels of income.
In the early 20th century, Newtown was primarily used for brickmaking and became a commercial and trading hub as banks, breweries and other companies were established in the vicinity due to the town’s easy access to the city’s railway lines. The area was widely known as “the Brickfields” as brickmaking became the most popular form of generating income due to the area being particularly rich in clay. Newtown’s name was adopted by city administrators in 1904, following the clearance of Brickfields and other multiracial “slums” in Johannesburg’s first forced removal by the apartheid government – a result of the area’s multiracial diversity. Today an eclectic mix of lively individuals inhabit the city and the area has become a beautiful example of the heritage and culture in South Africa. The area offers insight into the development of Johannesburg and modern South Africa, highlighting the evolution from a Victorian mining camp to one of the world’s major urban centres.
Attractions & Amenities
The Market Theatre
This internationally renowned theatre founded by devoted anti-apartheid actors, Barney Simon and Mannie Manim, was better known as South Africa’s “Theatre of the Struggle.” It was established through the conversion of the old Indian Fruit Market into three new theatres and was officially opened in 1976, the same week in which the Soweto Uprising began. The Market Theatre staged controversial plays that tackled the discriminations of apartheid. Plays such as Woza Albert, Master Harold and The Boys, Sophiatown and many others managed to find a voice on the stage of this theatre. Barney Simon underlined that the importance of this theatre was not to defeat the government through it, but for people to understand each other more. In the late 1970’s, Newtown gained a reputation as Johannesburg’s main venue for alternative theatre, and The Market Theatre remains at the head of South African theatre.
Other attractions include Kippies International Jazz Bar, Museum Africa, the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre and SAB World of Beer.
The Nelson Mandela Bridge
Nelson Mandela himself did the honors of officially opening this iconic structure that was named after him just two days after his 85th birthday in 2003. The cable-stayed bridge spans 284m in length and is the longest of its kind in South Africa, connecting Braamfontein to Newtown via Bertha Street and Ntemi Piliso Street. The bridge has exquisite architecture and is particularly gorgeous at night. It literally stands as a shining beacon when its vibrant LED colors of the South African flag reflect vividly off the waters beneath, a feature that was added for the 2010 soccer world cup to enhance the city’s cultural flavour. Students who are enrolled at academic institutes in Braamfontein can easily commute back and forth via this amenity. It carries two lanes of traffic with roughly 3000 vehicles per hour, there is also a bicycle lane and two sidewalks for pedestrians. For those who appreciate art, the brief journey exhibits an array of about 65 artworks decorated on some of the buildings visible to commuters.
Other day-to-day amenities such as shopping centres, convenience stores, restaurants, bars and coffee shops are situated nearby. Healthcare facilities such as Newtown Junction Medical Centre, Netcare Rand Hospital (CBD) and other specialising and general practitioners are situated in and around the area.
Newtown’s cultural platform revolving around performing and fine arts attracts a diverse demographic of young and creative individuals that thirst for the amenities only this area can quench here in South Africa. Being only a stone throw away from Braamfontein, it’s an exciting environment for students to take advantage of. Contact Citiq Students to find you affordable listings that allow for your creative talents and desires.