Saratoga Avenue

The well-heeled of the population were not satisfied with living in the small blocks laid out by the town planners near the mines and noise and dust of the new town. In 1887, Johannesburg’s first luxury residential area was laid out by Yeo Sherwell – Doornfontein.

At this stage, Doornfontein was larger than the current laid out Raandjeslaagte township and the cross-streets of the new suburb did not link up with the street grid of Raandjeslaagte. Long orange line on the map below is End Street illustrates this.

1890 map of Doornfontein showing mismatch of roads and highlighting position of houses in this post. Circle is where Ponte is today

1890 map of Doornfontein showing mismatch of roads and highlighting position of houses in this post. Circle is where Ponte is today

The stands were bigger and ran in a north-south fashion up to the slope. Running in front of the slope was Saratoga Avenue which became Johannesburg’s first millionaire’s row.

The first house on Saratogo Ave Doornfontein 1887

The first house on Saratogo Ave Doornfontein 1887

Saratoga Avenue early 1890s looking East

Saratoga Avenue early 1890s looking East

Note the two pictures above show the same house roughly 5-7 years apart. This would have been about 200 metres from the foot of Nugget hill today around where the cross-shaped Catholic Church stands.

Google Earth pic showing positions of 3 Saratoga, Windybrow and Warrington Hall. Star is where Nugget Hill starts. Arrows show the position from where pictures were taken.

Google Earth pic showing positions of 3 Saratoga, Windybrow and Warrington Hall. Star is where Nugget Hill starts. Arrows show the position from where pictures were taken.

Saratoga Avenue was established by the American Sam Height. Randlords John Dale Lace, Eckstein and Reunert built their mansions there. Reunert built Windybrow in 1896 and it still stands today although technically it’s not on Saratoga Ave but slightly above in Ockers Street. Barney Barnato had a mansion in End Street and George Albu had one in Pierce Street.

Looking up north up Nugget Hill with Windybrow in background 1890s

Looking up north up Nugget Hill with Windybrow in background late 1890s

Looking south down Nugget Hill with Warrington Hall on the right. Windybrow adjacent out of shot 1890s

Looking south down Nugget Hill with Warrington Hall on the right. Windybrow adjacent out of shot late 1890s

The above two shots show different views of the same street. Note that Nugget Hill had not been built yet. The reason why you can’t see Warrington Hall in the first picture is that the house is set back on the property. Only the front hedge is visible.

Front of Windybrow from 2011

Front of Windybrow from 2011

These next two pictures are of the only other remaining houses on Saratogo Ave on the Hillbrow side.

One of two period houses left on Saratoga Ave

One of two period houses left on Saratoga Ave

The second of the last two houses left on Saratoga Ave

The second of the last two period houses left on Saratoga Ave

Windybrow and the other two houses from the recent photos are the only ones that still stand on Saratogo Ave. The other houses on Harrow road from the pictures below including the one on the hill (Eastlington) have long gone. Opposite the house in the hill stands now Ponte which was built in 1975. The park on the left as one comes up Harrow road immediately after Ponte (Donald Mackay Park) was the site of Johannesburg’s first water reservoir.

The pictures of Harrow Road show a Victorian mansion called ‘Eastlington’. In its place now are foundations of an unfinished church.

Looking north up Harrow Road 1900s

Looking north up Harrow Road 1900s

Another view looking north up Harrow Road early 1900s

Another view looking north up Harrow Road early 1900s

*Click on pictures for bigger image

Saratoga Ave after the Harrow Road flyover but before Ponte was built in 1975

Saratoga Ave after the Harrow Road flyover but before Ponte was built in 1975

Zooming into the picture above and moving along Saratogo Ave will show what the two remaing houses I posted earlier looked like in the late 60s/early 70s when this picture was taken. The houses in the foreground are mostly gone (except the coffin shaped structure) and the area is part of what was know as WITS Tech – now UJ (University of Johannesburg)

An aerial view of Ponte from the 2000s

An aerial view of Ponte from the 2000s

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This entry was published on February 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm. It’s filed under Johannesburg and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Saratoga Avenue

  1. Chris Moon on said:

    Oh, yeah, for sure!

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