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Number: 3884
Continent: Africa
Region: South
Place Names: Johannesburg, South Africa
Year of Origin: 1938 (estimated)
Title: Holmden's Handy Street Map of Johannesburg
Language: English
Publish Origin: Johannesburg
Height: 63.0
Width: 69.5
Units: centimeters
Size Class.: Medium
Color Type: Full Color
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Cartographer: Holmden
Publisher: The Map Office, Johannesburg Central News Agency
Other Contributors:
Northernmost Latitude: -26.15
Southernmost Latitude: -26.25
Westernmost Longitude: 27.95
Easternmost Longitude: 28.05
Measurement Notes: modern estimates
Notes: [Pahor/Johnson source] Holmden's Handy Street Map of Johannesburg and Suburbs. Johannesburg: [Central News Agency, Late 1930s]. Colour printed map, folding into original light green printed card covers with by 12 pp. street index; 65 x 74 cm (25.6 x 29.1 inches). A stellar, brightly coloured map of Johannesburg, capturing the city during its 1930s boom, buoyed by a rise in manufacturing and the removal of the Gold Standard; it depicts the city?s rapid industrialization and the establishment of many new neighborhoods, from the popular Holmden series, published in Johannesburg. This highly attractive map contains fascinating details and captures Johannesburg during its 1930s boom, buoyed by manufacturing and the removal of the Gold Standard which drove up gold prices. The map shows the city within its limits which are delineated by thick burnt orange lines, with the downtown and its neat grid of streets, located in the dead centre. Concentric circles radiate from the downtown allowing one to gauge the distances to places further out. The map delineates and names every street, while all townships and neighborhoods are named and bordered by thin burnt orange lines; many of the outer districts were newly built, some within the last few years. The numerous parks, recreational lands (golf courses, racecourses, etc.) are labeled in green, while railway lines snake across the city, being the lifeline of the industrial zones, on the side of the downtown. The inset in the lower right corner, ?The Plan of the Central Area?, details the downtown, labeling all major public buildings. The map is housed within its original covers, along with a 12-page street index. The map is part of the continually updated Holmden series of maps of Johannesburg, which were for decades the most popular and authoritative map of the city. The map sequence was designed by a local firm of ?The Map Office? and issued in regularly updated editions in the present from the 1920s to the 1960s, and collectively chart Johannesburg?s growth in a peerless fashion. While the present edition is undated, on both stylistic grounds (its immediate post-Art Deco form) and on the growth of the city?s outer neighbourhoods, it can be placed in the late 1930s. Additionally, the map labels the ?Empire Exhibition Grounds?, just to the northwest of the downtown, being the site of a World?s Fair in 1936-7; the map dates from the time of the fair, or shortly thereafter. It is interesting to compare the present edition of the Holmden map with an image of a 1929 edition; one can see how the city grew significantly in less than a decade: The present map captures Johannesburg when it was enjoying an economic and population boom, just as most the rest of the world was mired in the Great Depression. Johannesburg was founded in 1886 as the centre of the Witwatersrand Gold Region, home to the largest gold deposits in the world. A centre of mining and agrarian development, the city grew in hyper-rapid manner, reaching a population of of 100,000 within its first ten years. Over the coming decades the city continued to grow, fueled by mining and agrarian development, a well its role as a regional centre. The Roaring ?20s were good for Johannesburg, but the following decade was even better. The Gold Standard was long the established means by which major governments around the world redeemed paper currency. However, this system kept gold prices artificially low. During the Great Depression, major countries abolished the Gold Standard, Britain went off the system in 1931, followed by the United States in 1933. This led to sudden rise in global gold prices (in the U.S. it went up from $20.67 to $35, an increase of 69%!). This led to an immense influx of capital into the Johannesburg region, which fueled investments in its manufacturing sector which boomed like never before. This led to a great inward migration of people to join the vastly expanded labour pool; Johannesburg?s population surged past 500,000, leading to the creation of the many new neighbourhoods shown on the present map. Many grand buildings were constructed during the period, such as the Central Library and Anstey?s Building, a 20-story Art Deco masterpiece that was the largest building in the Southern Hemisphere, while the aforementioned Empire Exhibition lent much prestige to the city. However, Johannesburg?s economic boom had a very dark side. While the South African Apartheid system was to formally commence in 1948, in Johannesburg its ignoble policies had already been in force for many years. For decades Black people had been barred from residing in Johannesburg, unless they could prove that their labour directly benefited the White community. Even then, they were compelled to live in neighborhoods and townships reserved for Blacks, which were usually horrific slums, in sharp contrast to the neatly manicured suburbs preferred by White people. When the present map was issued, Black people, even those going about their legitimate business, were routinely harassed and terrorized by authorities, in what was already full-blown Apartheid by any metric. Interracial relations would deteriorate further in the 1940s, leading the formal implementation of the Apartheid system, and the creation of massive slums on the edges of Johannesburg, such as Soweto. The circumstances of the city?s Black and White residents would become increasingly unequal and unjust during the coming decades, only being relieved upon the end of Apartheid and the presidency of Nelson Mandela from 1994. The present map is very rare, as are all large-format maps of Johannesburg from before the 1960s. We have only been able to trace a single example of what appears be to a similar edition of the Holmden map of the city, held by the Yale University Library. References: cf. Yale University Library: Covers 642 J597 194X / OCLC: 54638560
Last updated: Mar 12, 2022