Johannesburg at a glance
Johannesburg in the 19th century
GOLD was discovered in Johannesburg in 1886. The town moved from tent town to wood and iron shacks to bricks and mortar within a decade or two. These stories tell that history, detailing the characters involved, how the city got its name, and the earliest settlers in the region.
Joburg's earliest settlers
Johannesburg's earliest settlers were not the Boers but rather the descendants of Venda people who settled north of the Soutpansberg around 1 000 years ago, on two hills near a small town called Pontdrift
The Struben brothers
The first pioneers to actually find gold - but their luck quickly ran out
Johannesburg's first real mine never quite lived up to its name
The Three Georges strike paydirt
Who discovered the main gold reef? There's much controversy, but the claimants are three drifters, all named George
How did the gold get here?
Geologists continue to puzzle over why so much of the world's gold is to be found in one particular spot - the Witwatersrand
Who gave his name to Johannesburg?
Who gave his name to the city of Johannesburg when it was founded in 1886? The historians are unable to decide.
The city without water
How a major city came to be founded in a waterless, treeless, dust bowl. The forgotten tale of the village of Randjeslaagte
Streets named after pioneers
Many of the streets of Johannesburg are named after early pioneers
Why Bree Street has that 'kink'
One of the eccentricities of central Johannesburg is the way streets north and south of Bree Street fail to meet up correctly