Johannesburg’s most passionate heritage activists have spent the past few days looking back on the infamous 1930s Park Station – a casualty of Johannesburg’s intense redevelopment that is literally buried four metres below the current Park Station and falling into disrepair.
If you are able to find the hidden side entrance, which is very dangerous to climb, you will find the old station’s monumental cavern, with three-storey pillars built from single slabs of pink marble, fading gaps where the 28 Pierneef paintings that dotted its main concourse used to be, and metres of walls tiled in priceless Delft Blue pottery.
The history of the station is one most Joburgers are unaware of.
The old Park Station, completed in 1932, was in a building designed by Herbert Baker’s protégé, Gordon Leith, among other architects. It would be open only to white people for six decades, and came complete with the Blue Room restaurant – a shining example of an era of opulence and 1930s’ decadence.
This is the beginning. It’s going to be something of a story, a narrative, I hope. The fact is that @cellcsa #CellcHangman gave me this opportunity, I am grateful and I wish them luck for their production, you’ll see some of their sets in my story. . This is the beginning of the condemned part of the old Johannesburg Park Station. Most of the place is sealed and had damage from water and old graffiti from past events. Some places were foot deep in old sewerage and we couldn’t go deeper. This is also the darkest place I’ve ever explored, also the richest time capsule I’ve experienced. @jayjay_gregory would probably be a great companion on my next adventure down, being the historically knowledgeable dude he is. This time though, I held old doors open and jumped over holes with my new friend @Masinabandile. . #BrettUnderground #BBUnderground #MilliRuined #CreepyPeeps #LostRuins #CellCHangman #Bnw #Jozigrams #Johannesburg #Jozi #pixelpanda_za #ParkStation #City #UrbanExploring #Condemned #OldBuildings #AbandonedBuilding #OldJoburg #IgersJozi #CityOfJohannesburg #Bnw_mystery #bnwphotography #MobilePhotography #HuaweiP10 #mobilePhoto #TrainStation #SouthAfrica #MeetJoburg
The current Park Station, which is actually technically called « Park City », was launched by Nelson Mandela in the 1990s. He said in his speech at the time: « The station has become a symbol of a divided Johannesburg, cut in two by a river of steel made of railway lines and unfriendly buildings. »
The vision for the new Park City makes room for the inclusion of informal traders, minibus taxis and a central hub for commuters, and continues to evolve, but station management have remained silent about what is being done to protect the forgotten station.
Check out the latest pictures of Park Station below.