Citadels of commerce

On a themed tour by the Parktown & Westcliff Heritage Trust last Saturday we saw the central part of Joburg where the first proper departments stores were opened in the early 1900s. Quite a few of them remain, some of them newly renovated, others falling to bits. With names like Elephant Trading, Jaggers and Mosenthals, Danziger Brothers, and Nunnerly’s, these stores sold everything the mining man needed, and also items for women as they started to arrive into town later on. The warehouses are characterised by grand design (they needed to look better than the competition) and large windows to let enough light onto the large floors. It’s easy to spot the architectural evolution in the photos below, as the buildings go from Edwardian to Art Deco and grand New York-influenced styles. I particularly like the Elephant House and the Danziger Bros warehouse (with a cool old sign advertising ‘slide fasteners’ or zippers).


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