Johannesburg is ranked second, after Hong Kong, on the list of the top 50 most inspiring cities of the world in Good City’s Index for 2014.
A decade ago Johannesburg’s inner city looked as if it was on the brink of total decay with many buildings standing derelict and others illegally occupied by squatters. Many businesses and banks moved their headquarters out of the CBD in the 1990s, and the Johannesburg Securities Exchange (Africa’s largest stock exchange) moved to Sandton in 2000. This established the suburb of Sandton as the more prominent Central Business District and investments became scarce in the centre of Johannesburg.
In 2010 the situation in Johannesburg began to turn with a peak of new interest and investments rising all over the city centre. Braamfontein, which had been sustained due to the numerous tertiary institutions in the area, began to rise in popularity with apartment buildings undergoing renovations for student accommodation. Additionally, theatres, bars, clubs, and a crafts and food market (the Neighbourgoods Market) opened up in the area. Newtown also underwent renovations and additions to the existing markets, theatres and old buildings.
Johannesburg East: Maboneng
The east side of the city, now called Maboneng (‘place of light’) is now home to a growing neighbourhood of newly renovated industrial buildings which have been repurposed for residential and commercial use. Maboneng also has a market which is held at the Arts on Main Centre twice weekly and is the new hub for art exhibitions, bars, clubs, events and youth hang-out spots. A new street life culture is now emerging in the city as a result.
The Good City Index commended Jo’burg for civil engagement including a new park, which provides residents of the city with a green and safe area and facilities such as a wifi-featured library, outdoor gym, amphitheatre, and sports grounds. The city has also created a five kilometre long bicycle lane and side walk in Orlando, Soweto; owing to the growing culture of commuter cycling within Johannesburg and the local municipalities acting on the need to provide safety for cyclists.
Johannesburg is on a path towards not only restoring the African hub’s former glory but also surpassing it by becoming a modern, interactive, culturally diverse and safe environment for all residents and visitors to enjoy. ‘Jozi’ is proving that South Africa truly is a world class African city.