Free Nelson Mandela’s legacy

#173. Take a walk through Ferrreirasdorp in Johannesburg’s Central Business District. I did this on Saturday to get a feel for this city as a mining camp. According to The Joburg Book: A guide to the city’s history, people and places (edited by Nechama Brodie) Ferreirasdorp was the first mining camp to be established some time between the discovery of a new gold reef on the “vetvattersrand” in July 1886 – promises of plentiful water were to go unfulfilled – and Paul Kruger’s proclamation that opened the area up to public diggings in September of that year. This was the start of “modern Johannesburg”.

The walk was led by the Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust’s Flo Bird. Short and solidly built, her gray hair efficiently tied back in a ponytail and wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words: “one city’s urban terrorist is another city’s freedom fighter” Bird is a crusader for architectural and heritage justice. Continue reading

Rissik Street post office in flames

#164. Lament the passing of the historic Rissik Street Post Office that was almost all but destroyed by a fire on Sunday night. I was in Cape Town at the time admiring the Stellenbosch winelands, thinking about the Dutch and how lucky they must have considered themselves when they landed in some of the most beautiful landscape on earth. Joburg doesn’t make the news in that city.

Rissik Street Post Office by Victor Dlamini for The Daily Maverick

Risski Street Post Office by Victor Dlamini for The Daily Maverick

SA’s newest smart online news source The Daily Maverick (still for people with brains and money) captured some dramatic images of the building in flames. To see more of them click here.

Said to be “the second to oldest building” in the city  according to Joburg’s website — the Rissik Street Post Office goes back to 1897. It was designed by designed by Sytze Wierda, President Paul Kruger’s architect. It has been vacant since the Post Office left the building in 1996.

Ironically I came across a great article on the architectural history of  the post office that carried this intro on August 11, 2008: “Is there finally light at the end of the tunnel for the Rissik Street Post Office …” It’s alight alright.

The city has been reporting that the fire destroyed the building just days before a scheduled meeting into tenders for its redevelopment.