Neighbourhood of the week: Gandhi Square, Marshalltown

Posted by Ondela Mlandu on 2 October 2018

This is the historical heart of Joburg, sandwiched between trendy Maboneng, 1 Fox Precinct and Braamfontein. Entrepreneur Gerald Garner gives us a local’s tour.

Founder of Joburgplaces

‘I wrote a guide book to the city, Spaces & Places, in December 2010. Soon after, people asked if I could show them around. It has now grown and JoburgPlaces has taken more than 16 000 people on walking tours of the city. The business has expanded to include inner-city activations, pop-ups, events, bars and restaurants (we were involved at 1 Fox and One Eloff). We’ve just moved to Somerset House [built in 1906] on Gandhi Square. Thousands of people walk through the square every day – it’s the terminus for Metro Bus services – but it has a casual, almost tranquil atmosphere. It provides a breathing space in this built-up area and has wonderful vantage points of the surrounding skyscrapers. I love Joburg; it’s a real city – frenetic, energetic and gritty, yet the people are friendly and welcoming.’ Somerset House, 110 Fox Street,

Social Scene

‘I go to Elevate Rooftop Bar at the Reef Hotel. My perfect sundowner is a G&T – but with a great view, any drink tastes good there!’ 58 Anderson Street, 011-689-1000 ‘We’re opening Zwipi Underground Bar this month in the old United Safety Deposit bank vaults [a labyrinth of different rooms].’ Somerset House, Gandhi Square. 082-894-5216

Grab A Coffee

‘I love sitting outside CramersCoffee, watching the fashionable people amble past. I’m a coffee purist: it must be Americano, black and bitter.’  17 Harrison Street (corner of Main), 011-833-2699. ‘ Southeast of the square is Urban Backpackers with Kafe Noir – another brilliant coffee spot.’ 98 Anderson Street, 081-457-2744

Local Cuisine

‘I enjoy a little pizzeria called Ben’s Pizza. I order the spinach, onion, olive and chilli pizza, with extra avo.’ 21 Loveday Street (corner of Main), 081-496-8345.  City Perk Café is also wonderful with sidewalk seating on pedestrianised Hollard Street. I order the bean wrap.’ 70 Fox Street, 011-838-9755

Unique Finds

‘Shopping is compulsory in the inner city. I recommend designer Papy Kaluw’s two Urban Zulu shops, in Kruis Street (No. 37) and Anderson Street (No. 98).’ 081-432-3591. ‘Also walk up Eloff Street and turn left into Kerk – a wonderful, lively market street. On Eloff Street is the imposing No. One Eloff building and Joziburg precinct with eateries, retail shops and art galleries.’


Living History

‘During the [19th-century] Gold Rush, the first court building in Joburg was built in the middle of this square (then known as Government Square). It was here that Gandhi worked as a lawyer. He had his own practice just around the corner, behind where McDonald’s is today. A beautiful sculpture of a young Gandhi stands on the north side of the square. It has info boards and quotes from his life. The square was later named Van der Bijl Square, then Gandhi Square [it’s on New Street, off Rissik, Fox, Eloff or Marshall streets]. Amble down Main Street,
a wonderful pedestrian road that’s also an outdoor city-and-mining museum; look at the displayed objects and info boards. Walk all the way to the imposing Anglo-American buildings
[No. 44] and around the corner [25 Fox Street], visit the street-side museum at Chancellor House, once the law offices of Mandela & Tambo back in 1952. The Mine Shaft Museum inside the Standard Bank head office [5 Simmonds Street] provides a glimpse of Ferreira’s mine, the first in Joburg.’


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