These pictures show what Joburg looked like in 1930

Archived footage and modern technology combine to show you exactly how South Africa’s biggest city has changed over the past 90 years.

Johannesburg’s history stretches back some 130 years, having been formally established by the Boer government in 1886, after gold was discovered along the Witwatersrand reef.

By the time the Anglo-Boer war kicked off in 1899, the city had already seen significant growth, with a working railway system, horse-drawn trams and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in full operation.

In its earliest days, Joburg was a small grouping of around nine farms that had acquired claims to dig for gold. The area, known as Ferreirasdorp today, makes up the oldest suburbs of Joburg.

Today, Joburg has grown to cover over 2,300 square kilometres – a space larger than Sydney, London and New York. It is home to over 4.6 million people, and is one of the world’s richest heritage sites, with some truly iconic buildings.

We have previously looked at some of the archived images of how various areas of Johannesburg looked over its 130 years of development.

However, using Google Earth‘s advanced 3D mapping technology, we are able to ‘re-create’ these snapshots in great detail, showing exactly how much these well-known and iconic areas have changed.

From Jan Smuts becoming OR Tambo International airport, the changing face of Newtown (which used to have its own power plant), to the building up around the areas we all know, this is how Joburg has changed over the years.

The images below show Joburg between 1930 – 1960, with the modern re-creations taken from Google Earth.


Joburg International Airport

Then known as Jan Smuts International airport, OR Tambo International has seen major changes over the years.

Old town to Newtown

The area known as Newtown today used to be Johannesburg’s electric district, with power stations and cooling towers sticking out in the district. The cooling towers were demolished in 1985 to make way for the urban facelift we now enjoy.

Wits University

The University of the Witwatersrand used to be the stand-out feature in the old Johannesburg, but has almost become one with the city as it built up around it.

Brixton tower

The Brixton tower has always been a part of Joburg’s skyline – this is an image before it become branded as the Sentech tower we know today. The tower was constructed in 1962.

Old Wanderers reborn as Park Station

Before Wanderer’s cricket stadium found a home off Corlett Drive, the grounds were located closer to the city centre. The grounds were converted into what is Park Stations today.


Read: Joburg is 130 years old – this is what it looked like back then

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