Johannesburg is a young city that is yet to celebrate its second centenary, and already it has an incredible history and legacy. The settlement sprang up in 1886 when prospectors found gold in the area now known as the Witwatersrand. When the discovery became public, thousands flocked here in search of fortune and new opportunities. Today, Johannesburg still attracts those who want to realise their dreams and achieve success.

The new city was named after two officials of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR): Johannes Meyer and Johannes Rissik. Johannesburg grew rapidly and quickly transformed from a small settlement into a full-fledged city. It seemed like nothing could stop its growth, not even the Anglo-Boer war. In those tumultuous times, and beyond, Johannesburg has always been recognised as the golden beating heart of South Africa.

Through the years, Johannesburg has been the site of many iconic events. It was where the Springboks beat the All Blacks to take the Rugby World Cup in 1995, and most recently, it was where South Africa showed the world that we can host an event as large as the FIFA Soccer World Cup with style and grace.
 

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 Confidence Reef 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.

Joburg's firsts
Johannesburg was first in the country with a number of things: first paying gold, first motor car, first movie . . . but it was first with a number of other less significant but intriguing things too.

Johannesburg’s mayors
Johannesburg got its first mayor in 1897, 11 years after the town came into being. The town has had mayors with a range of different professions but only one female mayor.

Johannesburg in the 20th century underwent enormous changes.These stories look at apartheid, buildings, famous men and women, early cemeteries, and war on the streets of the city.

Markham's battle for survival
A protracted fight involving the government, the heritage community, residents and big business finally saved a bit of Joburg's history.

Forgotten tales from when Joburg was at war
Johannesburg's past involves memories of concentration camps in and around the city. When war came to Joburg's streets In 1922 the residents of Johannesburg were at war with one another, leaving 150 people dead.

Exploring Joburg with Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi spent 21 years in South Africa, 13 of them in Johannesburg. Tolstoy Farm to house Gandhi once more Tolstoy Farm, the property to the south-west of Johannesburg used by Mahatma Gandhi as a base almost a century ago, is to house a museum to "keep his legacy alive"

Nongoloza: king of the Ninevites
From doing odd jobs in KwaZulu-Natal to the most powerful king of the South African underworld, the name Nongoloza conjures images of both noble rebellion and vicious crime.

AmaWasha - Jozi's first black businessmen
Taking a leaf out of the book of Hindu washermen in Durban, scores of Zulu men migrated to the new mining town, where they washed the townsfolk's laundry in the Braamfontein Spruit. Back home, they ploughed their earnings into land.

A makeover for historic Kliptown
Kliptown was one of Joburg's first multiracial areas, begun in 1903. Kippies, the club that wasn't always there Kippies has become an institution in Newtown. Read about the history of the building and the characters involved.

The Foster Gang terrorise Johannesburg
An old mine shaft provided the backdrop to a thrilling showdown between a notorious gang and the police The last meeting at Liliesleaf Farm The last meeting at the secret headquarters of the banned African National Congress took place at Liliesleaf Farm.

The search for the man who wrote our anthem
The search for Enoch Sontonga's grave in the Braamfontein Cemetery took close to a year. The charter of 'our singing tomorrows' Thousands of South Africans had a hand in writing the Freedom Charter, a document proposed by Professor ZK Matthews for the democratic South Africa of the future.

Too young to die
Thirty-one year old Samuel Alfred Long, nicknamed Taffy, was hanged in 1922 although many people believed he was innocent. Josi remembers Indian war dead Jozi's highest point, the Observatory Ridge, commemorates the Indian Army with a monument to the contributions its men made in the South African War.

Mary Fitzgerald - first woman of Joburg
Mary "Pickhandle" Fitzgerald made her name in Johannesburg for her trade union activities and a number of other things.

The Fort turns into the Court
One of Johannesburg's most restricted and hated buildings is being turned into one of its most open and people-friendly buildings - The Fort and prison.

A flat mountain? We have our tower
Johannesburg has the long, tall, Hillbrow Tower, the tallest tower in Africa.

The powerful Apartheid Museum
In 1994 South Africa turned its back on apartheid. This Museum allows you to explore the evils of the system.

Hector: the famous child whose face is unknown
Hector Pieterson died on the streets on Soweto on 16 June, 1976. He has become a symbol of the cruel repression of apartheid.

Have a speedy bath in an Art Deco house
Johannesburg has a number of Art Deco buildings dotted around the city and suburbs.

Joburg's only dry suburb
Joburg has a suburb that has no bottle store. It's a long story . . .

There's life yet behind the scars of Fietas
Fietas - a name whose origins no one can recall - was a thriving community and home to several thousands of coloureds, Malays, Indians and whites in the decades before the 1970s.

Joburgs oldest buildings
Human settlement in Johannesburg goes back some 25 000 years, but when were the first brick buildings built, and how many still survive?