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.
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.
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.
In the shot below we can see some of Johannesburg’s eastern suburbs; Judith’s Paarl, Lorentzville, Bertrams, Highlands, Ellis Park, Berea and Hillbrow.
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.
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.
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.
You can see two more pictures from this trip over at my Flickr stream
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.