Decay Urbanised – Through My Looking Glass – 23 Oct 2011

This week’s episode of “Through My Looking Glass”, we were taken to the old Park station Concourse in Jozi city centre. Another afternoon spent with the Joburg Photowalkers and by the end of it, my nerves were somewhat shattered, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Next time with a flash, a tripod and faster lens.

We all met at the Anstey’s building, corner of Joubert and Jeppe Street. The Anstey’s building must have been a true marvel in its heyday. It was declared a National Monument many years ago and it is a building which holds some history. The building was once home of Cecil Williams, who was an Actor, playwright and member of Umkhonto we Sizwe. When Nelson Mandela was captured in August 1962, he was disguises as Cecil Williams driver, I found that piece of history quite interesting. The building was built in the mid 1930’s and sat on top of the Anstey’s department store which is said to have been famous for its elegant window dressings. For many years it was known as Johannesburg’s tallest building. There is apparently work being done to restore the building.

From there, we walked to Park Station. Although the streets are covered with filth and looks like a good sweeping is in order, there is life. From the street vendors to the people who are sitting and getting their hair done on the pavement, the city centre on a Sunday is buzzing. I was very excited to be able to see the infamous concourse and blue room. I was told that it was once the hotspot of Johannesburg and an elegant place to eat. Jerome showed us the ‘whites only’ and ‘coloured’ entrances and although they looked the same now, the White entrance was a lot more elegant during the apartheid era and the concourse was a “whites only” area for six decades. I still find that so hard to grasp because I don’t remember that. I was too young to know what the passes were and that there were curfews and the likes. Crazy really.

The blue room was an elegant restaurant leading off the concourse. All that remains is broken glass, the last remains on the parquet flooring and looks like the vandals have had a great time. It has been quite interesting to read some of the history behind this place. I would have paid more attention to the paintings on the tiles in what was called “The Tea Room”. There are quotes on the tiles and I believe you can track South African history by the images on the tiles. It is said you can track the history, from the landing of Jan van Riebeeck to the time of the completion of the station. It is sad to see how so much of Joburg’s spleandour is nothing but heaps of dirt, broken Glass and rubble. Where did everyone loose respect? I suppose that is a debate all of its own.

Once we left there, some guys escorted us to the roof of Manners Mansions opposite the Ansteys building. It is also said to be a national monument, I do stand to be corrected. We walked up all the flights of stairs to get there. Feeling pretty short of breath when we got the top, we took in the view. It was magnificent. The City is so beautiful from the waist up and there are such beautiful and elaborately designed buildings around.

It was hometime after all that excitement. It was nice to get home, see the faces of my 2 favourites (George and Kelso) and spend the evening relaxing.

I am looking forward to the next adventure, not sure when or where though. To be advised – hehe.

I hope everyone is happy, feeling the love and goes forth and conquers. May the week further be filled with all things nice.

Love in the world.


To see more photo’s of the concourse, Derek Smith was kind enough to allow me to use a link to his images – go check them out mrbaggins1 flickr set

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5 thoughts on “Decay Urbanised – Through My Looking Glass – 23 Oct 2011

  1. Candice, hopefully we’ll meet someday soon – I don’t know if I have forwarded you the link to my blog where I wrote a lengthy post about the concourse in September last year. I’ve been to the Concourse on three occasions flying solo. It is a magic space. The graffiti appearing was done by an artist named Dekor and if I remember correctly was for the Standard Bank Big Bash. Last time I was there some crew was shooting the “Step In-Step Out” reality bboy/hip-hop show (?) that was aired on ETV. Here’s the link to my blogpost

  2. Pingback: 2011 Photowalks in Review – 17 Dec 2011 « candicepeetzphotography

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