Among the oldest of the city’s suburbs, and for years home to Johannesburg’s Jewish and Portuguese communities, the eastern suburb of Bezuidenhout Valley (better known as Bez Valley) has changed dramatically in recent years, with whites moving out of much of the old housing to make way for township and immigrant blacks. Cyrildene, to the northeast of Bez Valley, has become the city’s new Chinatown, with a fascinating collection of Chinese supermarkets, businesses and authentic restaurants along Derrick Avenue.

Most visitors to this area, however, come to Bruma Lake, an artificial stretch of water that has proved a disappointing attraction save for its popular and lively flea market. Nearby, and safe for walkers, joggers and picnickers, is one of Jo’burg’s more accessible green spaces, Gillooly’s Farm, a park set around a dam. The park is overlooked by a dramatic koppie that can be climbed in twenty minutes.

The suburbs immediately south of the city centre were traditionally the preserve of the white working class. After the repeal of the Group Areas Act in 1990, blacks started moving in; unusually in contemporary South Africa, many are wealthier than the original residents.

 

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