Financial Mail - - LIFE INBOX - Sarah Bui­ten­dach

Have you ever driven through the Joburg CBD and won­dered how its teem­ing pave­ments and hodge­podge of sky­scrapers were once a small, dusty camp of min­ers’ tents? Or me­an­dered down a jacaranda-lined sub­ur­ban street and thought about the old houses you pass? Joburg nut Marc Latilla did, and in be­tween post­ing on his pop­u­lar his­tory blog, Jo­han­nes­burg 1912, has put to­gether a de­light­ful cof­fee-ta­ble book all about the 132year-old City of Gold.

What is par­tic­u­larly cool about this new vol­ume, ti­tled Jo­han­nes­burg Then and Now (pub­lished by Pen­guin Ran­dom House SA), is that Latilla il­lus­trates the pass­ing of time through com­par­a­tive pho­tos. He has painstak­ingly sought out old snaps from var­i­ous ar­chives and jux­ta­posed them with new im­ages. So, for ex­am­ple, there are two shots of the Bar­bican — built in 1929 and once the tallest build­ing in Joburg.

It’s pic­tured in its sepia hey­day and then re­cently, fol­low­ing a huge re­vamp that pulled it back from de­mo­li­tion by ne­glect.

Latilla has also un­earthed orig­i­nal im­ages of Joburg land­marks such as the Rand Club, Turf­fontein Race­course, Mar­ket Square and Park Sta­tion. The pic­tures of the stately, moth­balled part of the lat­ter are par­tic­u­larly fas­ci­nat­ing — a glimpse into an al­most for­got­ten world. He has pep­pered the pages with snip­pets of his­tory and lesser-known facts. This book is the ideal gift for Joburg­ers, the in­quis­i­tive and any­one with a pen­chant for the past.

Joburg’s story in pho­to­graphs

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