VIEWS OF JOHANNESBURG FROM LANGEMAN’S KOP

ruins on langeman's kop looking west towards johannesburg
Ruins on Langeman’s Kop, looking west towards Johannesburg

WARNING! High Crime Area. If you’re planning to go to Langeman’s Kop to photograph the views of Johannesburg, please be aware that it is something of a crime hot spot. It’s inadvisable to go alone, or even with one or two other people. Photographers have been robbed at gunpoint and had all their possessions removed, as well as being assaulted and quite badly injured. Please read the last couple of comments below for more information.

Click on images for larger view

Finding new bits of one’s home city to explore is always a very rewarding experience. A few days ago I found myself atop Langeman’s Kop, a koppie that rises in the suburb of Kensington, and of which I had never heard until a few days prior when Joburg Photowalkers announced a sunrise walk on the koppie. I never got to join the group as I got lost, having left the directions at home. But I did eventually find the place at about 8 a.m., a bit too late for sunrise. So there I was, alone,  on Langerman’s Kop. Anyone who knows Johannesburg will know that this is not the wisest move, but it all turned out okay…I wasn’t mugged, and encountered only one other soul – a man taking his hound for a morning constitutional. The views of Johannesburg from this vantage point are spectacular. Although I’d missed the dawn light I was nevertheless blown away by the vistas that opened up before me. It’s claimed the notorious “Stander Gang” holed up in caves on Langeman’s Kop after one of their bank robberies, but I’m not sure if this is, in fact, true.

Johannesburg's CBD and eastern suburbs viewed from the top of Langeman's Kop
Johannesburg’s CBD and eastern suburbs viewed from the top of Langeman’s Kop

Below is a view of the suburbs of Hillbrow and Berea. The tall circular structure topped with the Vodacom sign is the landmark Ponte building, a 50-story residential block in which I lived for several months back in the early 80s. Although there are grandiose views to be had from Ponte apartments, it’s a depressing building inside. There was talk at one time of converting it into a prison!  The Telkom Tower is a telecommunication tower which is still bedecked in it’s 2010 World Cup finery, hence the large soccer ball towards the top. I lived in Hillbrow for several years, at one time just as few blocks from the tower. The the 270 m (885 ft) Hillbrow Tower was built between 1968 and 1971, and is one of the tallest structures in Africa with a lift (elevator) inside. It was closed to the public in 1981 for security reasons, but while open it was one of Johannesburg’s major tourist attractions, housing two revolving restaurants and a disco called Cloud Nine. The building, which gives Johannesburg its distinctive skyline, has become a real icon and is even incorporated into the city’s logo.

Hillbrow and Berea viewed from the top Langeman's Kop, Kensington, Johannesburg
Hillbrow and Berea

Pointing the camera in a different direction takes us to Johannesburg’s main CBD, with the 50-floor Carlton Centre office block prominent under the tree branches. I worked in this building twice, at advertising agency Goodgoll-Said in 1979-80, and at JWT in 1981-82. Behind the office tower, but not visible from this vantage point, is the former five-star Carlton Hotel, a part of the same complex, which also houses a shopping centre (mostly below ground level). The hotel building is still there but no longer serves its original purpose.  The 50th floor of the office building serves as an observation deck and is open to the public. If you’re in Johannesburg at any time try to include a trip to the top in your itinerary – you’ll be rewarded with awesome views of the city and its surrounds.

johannesburg cbd viewed from the top Langemans Kop looking west
Johannesburg CBD with Carlton Centre office tower.

In the shot below we can see some of Johannesburg’s eastern suburbs; Judith’s Paarl, Lorentzville, Bertrams, Highlands, Ellis Park, Berea and Hillbrow.

Johannesburg and eastern suburbs viewed from the top of Langeman's Kop
Eastern suburbs

I always enjoy the views afforded by elevation. Patterns form that you just don’t get from ground level and everything looks…well…different. The picture below shows a small section the suburb of Bezhuidenhout Valley, or, Bez Valley as locals call it.

A small section of bezuidenhout valley from the top of langemans kop, johannesburg
Bezuidenhout Valley, one of Johannesburg’s eastern suburbs.

On the crest of Langeman’s Kop one encounters the ruins of a building which, according to a map reference, is the old Langeman’s Hotel. I’ve not yet found any further info on the hotel but I’m sure it played its part in the history of the city.

ruins of langeman's hotel atop langeman's kop, johannesburg
Ruins of the old Langeman’s Hotel.
ruins of langeman's hotel on top of langeman's kop, johannesburg
Langeman’s Hotel ruins.

Turning to face the east offers us a completely different view and feeling. Below, we are looking towards Ekhuruleni, a conurbation comprising the towns of Germiston, Bedfordview, Edenvale, Kempton Park, Boksburg, Benoni, Brakpan, Springs and Alberton. O.R. Tambo Intl. airport is located in Ekhuruleni, which is the major industrial hub of Gauteng Province. The freeway in the far distance in this photo will take you there. Now you know where it is, hopefully you won’t miss your plane.

looking towards the east rand and o. r. tambo international airport from the top of langermans kop, johannesburg
A man walking his trusty mutt on “the ‘Kop”

You can see two more pictures from this trip over at my Flickr stream

langemans kop from yoeville johannesburg
Just to provide some context, the koppie in the background of this picture, with the water tower and cell phone mast, is Langeman’s Kop.

 
Till next time…

© 2011. All images copyright Grahame Hall and may not be used without the written permission of the copyright owner. Please respect the rights of others.

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109 thoughts on “VIEWS OF JOHANNESBURG FROM LANGEMAN’S KOP”

  1. I got some good shots today. In and out, no dawdling. I arrived right at sunset sans tripod, took some handheld shots and quickly left when I spotted an unmanned fire and a possible spotter on a cell phone. I bumped into some folks who live next to the park and they say there is a gang that operates from this spot and who target photographers in particular. It’s a kind of fishing net for catching photographers. Their modus operandi is mug (often using firearms), steal everything including wallet and cell phones, leave the victim tied up, often in the bush, flee. They said when they saw me they said to each other, “Oh no! Not another one.” I was careful and fast, and maybe a bit lucky too. I’d say a larger group or some protection was advisable, and watch out for anyone playing spotter. Or better, just go somewhere safer.

      1. Thanks for the heads up, Grant. It’s a real shame we have to worry about things like this in Johannesburg, but I guess that’s the reality of the situation these days.

      2. Thanks for sharing. I used to go to this spot as a kid, and damn, the photos I took are stunning. Some of my favorite photos ever, though I did neglect to take a zoom and so the shots are all about the sunset with the skyline a sweet accent. Still, awesome. An amazing spot. One day, when the crime is less, it will be popular again.

  2. Well, I DID get mugged there while filming the Joburg skyline . It was around 7 or 7:30am, about a year ago. Lost all my gear, and ended up tied up on the ground. Not nice. So watch out and don’t go there alone with your photo/filming gear if you can avoid it. Rather go with a friend, and be cautious…

    1. I’m very sorry to hear of your unfortunate incident, Julien. I’m glad, too, that a worse fate did not befall you. I guess I was just lucky when I went on my own that the muggers weren’t there at the time. Without being paranoid about it, one simply cannot bee too careful anywhere in Jo’burg. Such a pity.

      1. Hello Grahame, sorry it took me so long to reply, I haven’t visited your blog since I wrote that comment to warn other photographers/cameramen. Yep, indeed, it is a pity, however I consider myself lucky since I only lost gear and wasn’t harmed. Could have been much worst.

  3. Hi Grahame
    Lovely pics, actually made me very nostalgic. My grandparents used to live in Rocket Road righton top of the koppie here, and we’d explore the Koppie as kids, looking for ‘gemstones’, hiding places, etc. It really is a lovely view and brings back a lot of memories. Have you seen the ‘Lost Johannesburg’ group and range of photos (viewable on Facebook and elsewhere online)? Quite lovely, and I think your pics would make a great addition, if at all interested…

    1. Thanks for the comment, Warren. Glad the pics brought back some happy memories for you. I am indeed aware of the “Lost Johannesburg” group on Facebook, and have contributed a few shots that I have from the ’70s.

  4. Hi Grahame
    This was so great to read and the pics are lovely. I had not even heard of Langeman’s Kop until we chatted about this. Also wonderful to read something about Joeys that is not political but away from it all. Glad you got some fab pics on your walk

    Congrats on Freshly pressed too!
    😀

  5. Wow this is inspiring!Your post just made me hungry. I really enjoyed your post .Love the photographs and your story!Thank you for sharing that.

    1. I’ve heard of at least one person who has been mugged up there, so I guess it was my lucky day…or maybe too early for the muggers to be up and about! Thanks for the nice comment.

  6. love the photos! so many nice photos taken and its interesting since its taken in so many different angles~ i mean its like a tour of Johannesburg! I guess some photos are taken from the top of the mountain, is it?

  7. Hey, great to see a Freshly Pressed post about JHB, and especially from a former Photowalkers! Beautiful pics — hope to meet you on a future walk. I saw some of the other pics from this walk and am so sorry to have missed it.

    1. I was totally gobsmacked to see my post on Freshly Pressed, 2summers. Look forward to meeting you on a future walk…hopefully next time I’ll actually find the location in time to join the group! I haven’t any other pics from this walk yet and was beginning to wonder if anyone showed up at all! I’ll go hunting again. Thanks for the comment.

  8. wow!!! a dose of nostalgia. I grew up in Johannesburg and like you I lived in Hillbrow and Berea, albeit in the 1970’s. I lived in the ‘Highrise’ apartment buildings….also a very grey and depressing place. I knew the streets intimately and lived in all these areas at some time or another before I moved to Cape Town – Germiston, Bedfordview, Edenvale, Kempton Park, Boksburg, Benoni and Springs and many more – either as an adult or as a child. (yes I am a nomad, still am) I now live in the UK with occassional trips ‘home’ and in the last 10 years I have lived in or visited nearly 100 of the UK’s cities, towns and villages, my base being in London (which I adore).
    Thanks for a trip down memory lane, your photos are great.
    Regards
    Cindy
    @notjustagranny
    p.s. I am also a keen photographer although I have not yet reached the getting up to see the sunrise stage yet! 🙂

    1. Wow! You certainly do get around a bit, Cindy! I have brother who lives in Taunton, but I have only spent a few days in the UK, some of them in London, which just has to be the hippest place on the planet. It’s easy to understand why people love it so much. Thanks for the comments on my pics. Oh, and you really must try getting up for some dawn pics…even if the light doesn’t play ball and you don’t get anything good it’s still a wonderful time of the day to be up and about…quiet and peaceful, almost surreal.

    1. Vodacom in SA was once is owned by Vodaphone. The service from all our providers is pretty similar…expensive and not always reliable, but generally okay. Thanks for the comment about the shots. Much appreciated.

  9. Great Pictures, is photography your job? If so it would be great to have your website and email details as I have some business ideas for my company that involve taking UK hobby photographers to South Africa for week long courses in places like Royal Natal, Clarens etc. Your pics have also made me wish my visit to Jo’burg and Durban for a month at xmas comes quickly… Huge thanks

    1. Unfortunately, photography is not my job, elementseu. However, I have a cousin who is a professional wildlife photographer and runs the kind of courses you’re talking about. I’ll pass your message on to him and if he’s interested I’m sure he’ll contact you. Thank you very much for your kind words about my pictures and I hope you have a wonderful time on your Christmas visit.

  10. Thanks Grahame. I found out after I had visited it that my great grandfather was in the Scottish Horse and had stayed on in South Africa after the war. He was a stonemason and I was told he was responsible for the stonework of the memorial, as well as many of the stone houses in Parktown and Houghton. I wish I had known when I was there.

    1. It’s lekker that you loved it, Tswanetourist. And really lekker that you stopped by to visit comment. Thanks a span.

  11. Thanks for stopping by, Mark. Oddly enough I spoke for a few minutes with the man who was walking the dog, and he mentioned the Scottish Horse War Memorial but, of course, I had forgotten which memorial it was by the time I made the post. I took a couple of pics of it but it was some way off in the distance and at a sidelong angle. I’ll post one of the shots anyway and you can see if we’re talking about the same place.

  12. I lived nearby in Kensington for about six months. Is Langermann’s Kop where the Scottish Horse war memorial is? I’ve got some pics of that, but I don’t remember seeing the ruins of the hotel.

    1. Downtown Johannesburg is not really a place where one wants to pull out a camera – even my little Fuji Finepix S5600. Nevertheless, I am thinking of taking a foray or two in that direction at some point, so hopefully I can oblige you in the near future.

    1. Not so sure about “brave”, stupid…maybe. But I think if one remains reasonably alert one can avert danger up to a point. The street-level crime rate in this neck of the woods is quite high so I was a bit nervous the whole time I was there, but, as they say, all’s well that ends well, if you’ll pardon the cliche.

  13. Absolutely gorgeous views! It’s so interesting to see pictures from different places. Great shots. I especially like the fourth one – looking at civilization from behind nature.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Nicole. I also enjoy the contrast between nature and the built environment we put ourselves in. I think the landscape here is pretty much as it was in Jo’burg’s early days, but I could be wrong.

  14. This is a journey down memory lane for me. I can remember walking that koppie back in the 80’s and 90’s. The ruins, the view. Pure nostalgia.
    Great to see these photos, and better stil, to here from another person who still ventures into such areas. These days I live further to the west, where there are koppies and unfenced bushscapes where I regularly take walks, alone or with the mutt. (And have never had any of the mentioned bad experiences – muggings and such).
    Thanks for the post
    Mike

    1. Glad that I’ve been able to rekindle some happy memories for you, Mike. I don’t venture into areas like this as a matter of course, and I was supposed to meet some other snappers there. As it got later in the morning I did think about packing it in and going home, but, as a stubborn male, I was also quite determined to find the place! Once I did I just figured “well, let’s just take a quick gander and see what all the fuss is about.” Glad I did. Thank you very much for visiting and leaving a note.

    1. Cities can be a little “crowdy”, Julia. 🙂 Or do you mean the post? Big thanks for taking the time to visit and express your thoughts.

  15. Nice photos, I hope i could go there pretty soon. I really love this “Ruins of the old Langeman’s Hotel pic.” that was a very awesome shoot… wowowowo..

    Hahahah i hope i could go with you soon taking pictures of those beautiful places.

    Hope to get back from you.
    Jonz
    aljonpartz.wordpress.com

    1. And Johannesburg is waiting to welcome you, Jon! If you do come by this way, get in touch and maybe we can work something out. Thanks for the comment.

  16. Beautiful pictures! I have to admit I never thought Johannesburg looks like this whith this wonderful nature around t. Thanks for showing me that i was wrong. 😉

    1. Most people don’t think of Johannesburg as a particularly beautiful place, Einrad, but I think it all depends on your vantage point. There beautiful parts and views in this city, but sometimes you do have to hunt a bit to find them. I also happen to like the “concrete jungle” aspects of any city…the geometry, the contrasts, the colours, the vibrancy of it all. At heart, I guess I’m really a city slicker. Thanks so much for the compliment on my pictures.

    1. Thank you for the lovely comment, Loyce. I hope Johannesburg lives up to your expectations. Don’t leave your camera at home! 🙂

  17. Grahame Hall! Spectacular, spectacular! I actually didn’t want your narrative to end. Your photographs capture the spirit of the subject. Living in JHB now for about 8 years, and I learned a whack from your block. You know, with all the crime and stuff, JHB will always be home, no matter what. Thanks for the taking the time and the effort to share these amazing images with the world. Can’t wait to see what you post next! So, hurry up already…!

    1. Johannesburg sure does get under one’s skin. I’ve been here on and off for pretty much most of my life and there are still always surprises to be found. Oh, and I don’t have a clue about what to do next! Thanks for comment, mate.

  18. I love the clarity and colours in these photos most of Joburg looks like a brown dust bowl at the moment because of the wind and winter. This is so amazing, few people realise how pretty Joburg can be thank you!

    1. Glad I could share my pics with you. Jo’burg will soon be ablaze with spring colour once more and then those dramatic summer storm skies! Can’t wait. Thank you for your kind words and for taking the time to visit.

  19. The old tree bends to his companion –
    “Ag man, who’re the big, oblong ouens
    coming up the horizon?”

    Marie Marshall
    writer/poet/editor/blogger
    Scotland

    1. I certainly never thought my pics would inspire poetry, Marie! Thank you so much for this special comment, written in true S’Effrican style, nogal!

  20. Thanks for sharing a piece of “home”. I miss Home, I actually stayed around that area a few years back. Such good memories thank you for bringing the sunny sunshine from SA to my day!!

    I’ll be sure to come back! =)

    1. I guess there really is no place like home. And I’ll share some sunny South African sunshine with you anytime. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    1. Johannesburg is far from done-for yet! There’s plenty of beauty here if you look. However, there was some litter in this place, but nothing like I’ve seen in a few other parts of town. Thanks for popping in and leaving a comment.

    1. I agree. We often yearn for distant shores believing that’s where we’ll find our inspiration, when the real treasure is right there in our own back yard. Thanks for the comment.

  21. I like your willingness to take the risk and go to this area, which sounds a bit dangerous. You may be surprised to hear from an American that I wish the Bezhuidenhout War Memorial (from WWI), the Boksburg cemetery, and the Brakpan Garden of Remembrance could be tended to by people who really cared. Unfortunately, over there as well as here in the U.S., the significance of such places is often forgotten.

    1. I didn’t, at first, think of it as a risk. It was only after I got out my car and started wondering around that I thought, “Hang on a sec, I’m here alone and this is quite an isolated spot even though there are houses close by…better be careful.” And I am, indeed, surprised to hear an American speak of the places the places you mentioned. They may be cause for a few other excursions. It will be a sad day for the world when the significance of these places is forgotten, as well as the memory of the brave men and women who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Jenny.

  22. totally reminds me of a comment from Lenny Kravitz when he toured a few years ago, “it was so strange, stepping out and view jo’burg and it looked just like Seattle or Atlanta or something”. Ek het die ander dag probeer om vir n Kanadiese mens te se dat ons eitlik reedliks normaal is – hy dink ek was my hare in n dam. Lol. I took some weird photos when I was on honeymoon in Knysna in an old abandoned ‘castle’. Daars nie te veel om in Oos Londen te sien nie 🙂

    1. Nou ja, Crazy Lady, ek kom oorspronklik van Oos Londen af!! Toe maar, ek sal u maar eintlik vergewe. 🙂 Mr. Kravitz was probably expecting mud huts and roaming wild animals terrifying the locals! Thanks for the quote and the comment. Made me smile.

    1. Well, Howlin’ Mad Heather, if you do make it let me know and I’ll try to organize a little group outing to take you up “the Kop”. Of course, Jo’burg ain’t exactly as it was portrayed in District 9, but, in some respects, it’s very much like what you saw on screen. I thought it was a very cool movie. Thanks for the coment.

    1. Always a pleasure to share aspects of Johannesburg with appreciative people, Eva. Thank you very much for visiting this little corner of the city I call “home”, and your comment, too.

    1. Thank you for posting your thoughts, Ladyladylike. Unfortunately, I can’t take any credit for the roofs, but merely for pointing my camera at them and pressing the shutter! Which, when one thinks about it, doesn’t seem like much.

  23. They say a great photo takes you in and makes you feel like you are there. Well, I can tell you that these photos did that for me. I didn’t bother to read the post the first time through, as I took in the views.

    Keep up the great work.

    1. What a wonderful reportage. I used to walk the koppie practically everyday when I still had my dog. Never took such nice pictures as you did. Always wondered what exactly went down to ruins. Fascinating story.

      1. Thanks, PJ (if you don’t mind me referring to you like that). I think any dog should consider itself lucky to have such a place for “walkies”. Thanks for your kind words about the pictures.

    2. Thank you very much for your comment, J. It certainly motivates me to get out there and keep trying. I think photographing places is all about trying to capture a sense, a feeling, about the place being photographed, and conveying that to the viewer. If I have succeeded in some small way to do that with these pictures, then I’ll consider myself satisfied that the exercise wasn’t in vain.

  24. Was certainly something of a surprise to hit WP today and see I’d been “Freshly Pressed”!!! Thanks Word Press, and thank you, too, to new visitors for all the visits, “likes” and comments. Hope you’ll stop by from time to time to see what I’m up to.

  25. I work with a couple of people from Johannesburg and hear a lot about it and Cape Town, as well as other parts of South Africa, so I’ve heard a lot of its stories! Thank you so much for sharing your photos, though…it gives me a better idea of what the place that they call “home” actually looks like.

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment Mikalee. Most of us think of Johannesburg as a concrete jungle, but in parts some of the original wildness remains…and when the light’s just right, well… I’d never even heard of Langerman’s Kop until couple of weeks ago, so this was a real surprise for me, too. I will definitely go back for more pics.

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