Overview | Profile | Projects

logoAs with most major cities around the world, Johannesburg's city centre has been through a period of stagnation and degeneration. However, in the past few years a number of initiatives have been adopted to reverse these trends. One of the most important of these is the Greater Newtown Development.

NewtownNewtown is one of five tourism developments aimed at inner-city regeneration. In partnership with Gauteng Agency Blue IQ, the Johannesburg City Council - through the Johannesburg Development Agency - is transforming Newtown into a safe and attractive place to work, live and visit.

Newtown is being developed into a vibrant, mixed-use area with a unique character based on existing cultural facilities - the indelible Kippies, the world renowned Market Theatre, Moyo Restaurant at the Market, the buzz of Nikki's Oasis, the numerous international artists who have graced the Newtown Music Centre and not forgetting the unique shopping experience of the Oriental Plaza just around the corner from Newtown.

The project entails several improvements of the area, all aimed at making Newtown safe, accessible, and attractive. These include five housing developments catering for different income levels. Over 2 000 housing units will be built over the next three years.

This destination has been made accessible through the construction of the Nelson Mandela Bridge and associated M1/Carr Street interchange. The Nelson Mandela Bridge opened on 20 July 2003 and has become the new gateway from the north into Newtown.

Map of the area

Click here for a Map of Newtown

Key documents

Historical background

At the turn of the 20th century, the Newtown Precinct was known as the Brickfields. This area was rich in clay, and brick making became the most popular form of generating income. By 1896, about 7 000 people of all races lived in the area, later named Burghersdorp.

As this land was close to the centre of Johannesburg and the railway line, many businesses and immigrants coming from overseas bought stands in Burghersdorp. Soon, trading companies, banks, brick companies, a brewery, and fisheries moved into the area.

In April 1904, the fire brigade set the area alight destroying everything in the inferno - a measure allegedly to combat the bubonic plague that had broken out. The area was surveyed, re-planned in unbecoming haste and renamed Newtown by October 1904, a commercial area where vast fortunes in milling, production of sugar and food merchandising would be made. Newtown has now become synonymous with the heritage and culture of South Africa and especially Johannesburg.


Located in the western sector of the Johannesburg city centre, Newtown covers an area that stretches from the marshalling yards and railway lines to the north, the M2 motorway in the south, West Street in the east and Quinn Street in the west.

This destination is now easier to reach with the construction of the Nelson Mandela Bridge and associated N1 / Carr Street interchange, co-funded by Blue IQ, the City of Johannesburg, National Roads Agency and the National Department of Transport.

Cleaning up

The establishment of a City Improvement District, the installation of closed-circuit TV, the upgrading of existing buildings and public open spaces have turned Newtown into a safe, secure and attractive environment. Mary Fitzgerald Square constantly hosts public performances and gatherings. With lighting designed by renowned French lighting designer, Patrick Rimoux, Newtown has been transformed into a well-lit attractive destination.

The energy, innovation and vitality that were integral to Johannesburg's past success, and which are still associated with the city today, do not only have a commercial dimension. They also find creative expression in the arts, the architecture, and the cultural activities of the city. These are richly represented in the theatres, studios, workshops, museums and buildings of Newtown - a historic area of Johannesburg's central business district that has long acted as a magnet for creative and cultural activities.