The Central Business District of Johannesburg covers about six square kilometres and is packed with skyscrapers.
Diagonal Street, previously Jubilee Street, stretching from Kerk Street in the north, to Ntemi Piliso Street in the south, is a distinctive, historic part of Johannesburg’s CBD. Set amidst some of the best preserved Victorian buildings in Johannesburg, some still sporting delicate filigree cast iron work, this street forms one of the most eclectic zones in the city and is a photographer’s dream.
Diagonal Street today is also a great place for shopping. In the tradition of the Indian traders of the last century, you can find a miscellany of material, including bold African prints, hardware and kitchenware. There is also a plethora of muti (traditional medicine) shops selling African traditional remedies. There are some fifteen shops facing the street and shopkeepers have been doing business there for the past three generations.
The buildings listed below all add to the mixed bag of architecture that distinguishes the area:
11 Diagonal Street
11 Diagonal Street, which was commissioned by Anglo American, and is owned by Absa Bank, is a very distinctive building. Designed by the renowned architect, Helmut Jahn, it resembles a multi-faceted diamond, with massive glass sheets, at various angles that reflect various images of the CBD. It was built in 1984 and stands at a height of 80 metres.
Kazerne Building stands on the corner of Jeppe and Diagonal Street and dates back to 1896.
Carmel Building at 16 Diagonal, is a Victorian neo-classical built in 1897. Some of its previous names were : Saxonia & Hanson Building, Saxonia Court, Saxonia Mansions.
Gardee Arcade has roots that go back to 1922. The 19-storey Franklin building, immediately behind this row of shops, was built on the demolished ruins of 12 small shops, plus a fruit alley. The shops were cleared and the fruit alley re-positioned behind this row of shops, which took on the new name of Gardee’s Arcade.
Recently with the owners, Urban Ocean’s permission and as a result of a Dulux advertisement, the facade was painted pink, purple and orange; whereas it was previously white. There is a clause in the contract with Dulux that the facade has to be re-instated after the contract period. Most tenants don’t mind the colour scheme, saying it is attracting more attention to the building.
However, there has been opposition from Eric Itzkin of the Heritage Department because permission was not obtained to paint the building, which is older than 60 years and thereby enjoys automatic protection under the Act.
We need to acknowledge this heritage building, it's very iconic, its preservation is important. It is part of the whole precinct.
The Grand Hotel, by architect M J Harris on 12-14 Diagonal Street which dates back to 1926.
Built in 1944, Oskop House, at 42 Diagonal Street, was originally a three or four floor building that grew to seven storeys in 1949.
Walter & Albertina Sisulu Statue
A statue of ANC stalwarts, Walter and Albertina Sisulu holding hands graces the corner of Albertina Sisulu Road and Ntemi Piliso Street.
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