Before Maboneng and Braamfontein were the cool hangouts they are today, there was Newtown. Let’s not bore you with a history lesson in the area. Yes, Newtown was originally called Bricksfield because there was a lot of clay laying around and yes, it hosted the first brewery in town until the fire brigade burned the whole place to the ground. Yup, it was set alight on purpose, because of the pneumonic plague and stuff. Today, Newtown is known as one of the most important cultural precincts in Johannesburg. Come with us as we explore this commuter belt in detail.
Where to Eat
Newtown is one of the busiest spots in town as it’s the crossing point for Metro Bus en route to its main terminal at Gandhi Square in neighbouring Marshals Town. Due to foot traffic early in the morning Newtown is a busy breakfast spot. Vegans and Vegetarians can head over to Kaldi’s Coffee on Commissioner Street for some awesome breakfast made just for them. For something more classic, run down to Gerald Sekoto Street and grab an omelette stuffed to the brim at Nalesa. Street food is big in the inner city, and N-Town is no exception. From gourmet pop-ups to mealie pap and chicken… it can all be found here.
What to Do
Newtown is known as the art capital of the city. Its long list of galleries and studios are occupied by some of the best artists in Southern Africa. From Market Photo Workshop’s ability to produce fine photographers to Joburg’s number one print makers, Artist Proof Studios – which prints the works of stalwarts such as William Kentridge – this spot in town has it all. The Bus Factory plays office and studio space to other creative venues such as the Market Theatre Lab, where future TV and film producers go to hone their skills. The Bus Factory also acts as the stomping ground of the fabled artist and jewellery maker, Prince of Newtown.
For as old as Johannesburg is, this neighbourhood has been known as one of the neighbourhoods with the most booming party scenes. From Carfax on Car Street to the Bassline on Henry Nxumalo Street, there’s no reason to miss a single beat. If jazz is your thing then there’s a club for you, if dance music is your thing then there is a dance hall for you; if chilling is your thing then there’s a pub for you.
The suburb has been laid out in such a way that getting around on foot is optimal. As with any other section of the city, minibus taxis can be found anywhere and everywhere. Crossing the Nelson Mandela Bridge will get you to Braamfontein’s Park Station. Park Station is the beginning and end-line of the Gautrain rapid transit system and a major African railway station.
Points of Interest
The recently developed Newtown Junction is a hub of entertainment, shopping and food all mixed together in a cauldron of creativity.
By Shawn Greyling