Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa and is one of the 50 largest urban areas in the world. It is the provincial largest city in Gauteng, which is the wealthiest province in South Africa. While Johannesburg is not one of South Africa’s three capital cities, it is the seat of the Constitutional Court. The city is located in the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range of hills and is the centre of large-scale gold and diamond trade.
The city was established in 1886 following the discovery of gold on what had been a farm. The city is commonly interpreted as the modern day El Dorado due to the extremely large gold deposit found along the Witwatersrand.
The name is attributed to one or all of three men involved in the establishment of the city. The population of the city grew rapidly, becoming a municipality in 1897.
In 1928 it became a city making Johannesburg the largest city in South Africa. In 2002 it joined ten other municipalities to form the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality.
Today, it is a centre for learning and entertainment for all of Africa. It is also the capital of Gauteng. The most recent population count of the city of Johannesburg was 4,434,827, making it the largest city in South Africa.
While Hansen doesn’t explicitly state the sources of the images (“Literally all over,” he said), many can be found in the digital archive of The European Library,and the National Library of the Netherlands.
The photos show that South Africa’s biggest city had humble beginnings, but even 120 years ago was showing its growth potential.
Take a look back at what Joburg was like in the 1900s: