Bordering the City Centre and joined to Newtown by the Nelson Mandela Bridge – Joburg’s landmark equivalent of Cape Town’s Table Mountain – Braamfontein is fast becoming the hipster capital. If you’re looking for Joburg’s uber cool party central you’ll find it in ‘Braam’. Filled with students, fixie bike hipsters cyclists, bearded baristas, street fashion rebels and young creative types, Braamfontein has it all – great Museums and Theatres, exciting nightlife, Restaurants, trendy coffee shops, contemporary Art Galleries and quirky design and fashion stores.
Braamfontein Today is largely unchanged from 30 Years ago. It seems like it’s always just been this way, but its long History starts off as a Farm in 1853 to a booming middle-class Residential Suburb, in the mid 1890s to the 1930s. During the Economic and Building booms of the 1930s and 1950s, many Businesses Relocated to Braamfontein. Blocks of Houses and Old Churches were Demolished to make way for Commerce. WITS University was established in the 1920s. The expanding Johannesburg Train Station swallowed the old Wanderers club and sport grounds in the 1940s. The Civic Centre development in the late 1960s took up a whole grid of suburban Houses. Slowly but surely the Suburb became a Business hub that also included Residential Flats and supporting Business, to cater for students at WITS University and the thousands of office workers that filled up the Buildings, during the day.
Over the last few Decades Braamfontein has also been Home to legendary Nightclubs as well as some popular and fine dining Restaurants.
In the beginning, Braamfontein was originally a Farm that adjoined Randjeslaagte (the triangular piece of Government-Owned Land between the Farms) on the west. It occurs in the records as early as 1853 and was owned by Gert Bezuidenhout. By the time Gold was Discovered in 1886, various families were living on it. The name means: ‘bramble fountain’.
The original Farm stretched from Westdene in the west, right through to the Western Boundary of Houghton in the East and from Greenside and Emmarentia in the North across Parkhurst and Parktown and right down to the bottom of Newtown in the South. The Valleys that lie between the Ridges contain Tributaries of the Braamfontein Spruit which run to a point near Victory Park. One rises at Sturrock Park and runs under the gas works. Another rises on the ground of Barnato Park in Berea and the third runs under the Johannesburg Country Club, Cricket Field. Braamfontein Spruit itself rises in the vicinity of Parktown and runs down to Sans Souci, through Parkview Golf course, Parkhurst, Craighall, Bryanston and Rivonia. On its course it is joined by a feeder from Zoo Lake, the Sturrock Park tributary, one from Westdene dam which eventually flows into Emmarentia Dam. A further feeder rises from Newlands/Greymont Area running through Roosevelt Park to join the Emmarentia feeder. In November 1892, Herman Eckstein formed the Braamfontein Estate Company so it could take from him and develop the 1580 Morgen of the Farm, Braamfontein, that he had acquired from Lourens Geldenhuys and his brother Frans. The Company would go on to develop the Exclusive Suburb of Parktown. Before that, Lourens bought one of the subdivisions of Braamfontein from the Bezuidenhout family who owned Doornfontein. On selling the eastern part to Eckstein, the brothers kept substantial portions for themselves (now Greenside and Emmarentia) which were still being farmed up until the 1930s.
The Area we know as Braamfontein today, runs from the Braamfontein Cemetery in the West to the Civic Centre in the East and from Wolmarans Street in the South up to Hoofd Street in the north and includes the Ridge. It’s been known by this name since 1888 when the Area North of Noord Street was surveyed although, it was never declared a Township.
28° 1' 44.4", -26° 11' 31.2"
Further Reading