Labelled Joburg’s ‘cultural precinct’, the downtown area of Newtown has been in a constant state of renewal since the first mining camps pitched here in the 1890s. Slums housing mineworkers and brick makers, as well as tanneries, slaughterhouses and rough and ready taverns soon followed. In the early 20th century the area was razed to make way for the city’s main fruit and vegetable market (now Museum Africa and the Newtown Junction shopping precinct) and a power station (today an outstanding events space Turbine Hall) as well as many warehouses and a migrant workers’ hostel (which now house the Workers Museum). With economic shifts the area began to decline, briefly springing back to life in the late 1990s and 2000s, then a hangout for artists and musicians.

Now a new injection of commercial investment, which began with the opening of Newtown Junction mall, is pushing Newtown to make its ‘cultural precinct’ status meaningful once again. Exciting new developments already open in the Newtown Junction area include Work Shop New Town, a stylish fashion and design emporium showcasing South African brands and the chic 3-Star City Lodge Hotel Newtown. Further developments include a hotel, a glamorous cocktail bar, upgrades to the historic Market Theatre, one of the most famous theatres in the country, and a new landmark building for the acclaimed photography studio and school the Market Photo Workshop.

Newtown has long attracted musicians and artists and you will notice that many of the streets are named for famous South Africans such as Miriam Makeba and Gerard Sekoto. Street art is also a major feature of Newtown and local tour company Past Experiences leads excellent street art and graffiti tours through the area. To sample the local live music scene visit the underground live music pop-up venue Carfax which is attached to the popular house music nightclub & Club. Meanwhile for art lovers you'll find temporary exhibitions at the Artist Proof Studio, located in the old Bus Factory building and plenty of exciting street art sprayed across the city streets.
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