Take a walk around Park Station and its surrounds with the Heritage Trust [planned for Saturday, February 19]. This is one I will be sorry to miss (I have a weekend out of town planned). The first time I ever went to Park Station it was by train from Benoni and I was about 14 years old and addicted to the hippie chic of the Market Theatre Flea Market which used to be the best way to spend time and pocket money in the [early, ouch] 1980s. Then it sprawled across the parking lot that is now Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, and was filled with all sorts of treasures and delights [admittedly looking back it was more like knick-knacks and tat]. A Saturday morning visit was incomplete without a walk to the Oriental Plaza a few blocks away in Fordsburg – the height of exotic compared [I came from Benoni] – with its scents of incense and spices, richly-coloured and patterned fabrics and fresh samoosas from the Golden Peacock (still around at the last visit). At that stage I was also addicted to Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and anything that conjured Indian history and culture.
On the weekend I was back at the station for a ride to the spectacular U2 concert at Soccer City as I had been during the World Cup, enjoying seeing the quizzical looks on the faces of regular commuters who are not accustomed to seeing that many white people in that part of town.
Today the station is mostly a modern edifice but there are still traces of its historic past. The parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust lead regular inner-city tours and this one is described as:
Park Station and its neighbours
“Visit one of Jo’burg’s finest buildings designed by Leith and Moerdyk. Walk through to Eloff Street to admire the recently re-furbished Beaux Arts masterpiece by Robert Howden known variously as TUCS, The School of Mines and the Tech. Doff a cap to the old President Hotel then walk up to Joubert Street to see some Art Deco blocks of flats, back along Rissik Street and into the MOTH memorial square. Return passing the Railways Administration building under the old clock which still hangs above the pedestrian route.”
* The tour starts at 2pm. To book call Eira Bond weekdays from 9am-1pm (011) 482-3349. Cost is R60 for members and R80 for non-members. For more details and upcoming tours http://www.parktownheritage.co.za/