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Parktown - Johannesburg Suburb

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Conference Venues in Parktown, Johannesburg
Pembi Parktown Conference Venue
AstroTech Conference Centre
Emoyeni Conference Centre
Sunnyside Park Hotel Conference Venue

Parktown is the first suburb north of the inner-city of Johannesburg. Parktown is one of Johannesburgs largest suburbs, neighboring Hillbrow, Braamfontein and Milpark to the South; Berea and Houghton to the East; Killarney and Forest Town to the North, and Westcliff, Melville and Richmond to the West. Originally established by the Randlords in the 1890s, Parktown is now home to many businesses, hospitals, schools, churches and restaurants, whilst still maintaining quiet residential areas. It is also home to three of the five campuses of the University of the Witwatersrand including the education campus, medical school and Wits Business School. The western side of Parktown is almost entirely residential and famous for its beautiful avenues lined with Jacaranda and Plane trees. Commerce is only permitted along the Western side of Jan Smuts Avenue.

In addition to Sir Herbert Baker, many other architects were influential in building this historical suburb, including Frank Emley, J.A. Cope Christie, Francis Fleming and J.H. Aldwyncle. Baker's Parktown houses drew influences from the Cape Dutch revival style, which he had mastered in the Cape and combined this with stone work using "koppie stone" which was quarried in the area, often from the grounds of the houses that he built. J.A. Cope Christie was more influenced by the traditional Victorian style which he combined with elements of Art Nouveau.

The Parktown Mansions tell many stories of the history of Johannesburg as they were the homes of some of the most influential resident of the early city. Whilst there are a number of mansions still standing in present day Parktown, a vast majority were destroyed during the late 1960s and 1970s to facilitate the construction of the M1 motorway and the increasing popularity of Parktown as a business district. Remaining Baker mansions in Parktown include Northwards, Villa Arcadia, Bishopskop, The Stonehouse and Brenthurst. Other important mansions include Dolobran designed by J.A. Cope Christie and North Lodge designed by J.H. Aldwyncle.

Modern-day Parktown and its surrounds form a centre of Arts and Culture in Johannesburg. The Linder Auditorium, located on the Wits Education Campus is home to the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Johannesburgs only full-time professional orchestra. Just next door, the Williams Block houses the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra Company. The Johannesburg Children's Theatre is across the Road from the Education Campus, housed in two Parktown mansions and the South African Ballet Theatre and South African Youth Ballet are a few blocks away in Braamfontein on the Johannesburg Theatre's property.

Parktown is also home to a diverse range of Churches including a Dutch Reform Church, a beautiful 1904 Baker and Masey Anglican church, St. Georges and the Temple of the Church of the Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. Temple Emanuel, one of Johannesburg's last remaining Jewish Reform Synagogues is also located in Parktown.

Parktown is within easy reach of the city centre and the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, including Sandton. The Johannesburg Zoo, and Zoo Lake, are close by, as are the charming villages of Parkview and Melville, both of which have restaurants, art galleries and little boutique-style shops that claim immediate and lengthy scrutiny.

History of Parktown
In 1890 Edouard Lippert bought a substantial portion of the Braamfontein Farm. He rebuilt the farm house located on a ridge and named it Marienhof after his wife, Marie. The ridge overlooked a massive plain and on this he planted the Sachsenwald Forest to supply the needs of the mines and fast developing city. He saw the promise that the ridge had for development as a township and partitioned the land into plots. In 1892, Florence Phillips rode north from the dusty mining town of early Johannesburg and found the ridge. The view extended from Sachsenwald forest in the West to the Magaliesberg mountains and Pretoria in the North. She persuaded her husband to build a house there and Frank Emley was comissioned to build their mansion, Hohenheim. Parktown quickly became the new elite suburb. Soon, many wealthy entrepreneurs were building mansions along the ridge, and showing off their newfound affluence with parties, croquet on the lawns, and lavish dinners.

Parktown was where many conspirators of the Jameson Raid against the South African Republic were based. Today the suburb is home to many Victorian and Edwardian homes, and a number of designs by Sir Herbert Baker.

In the late 1960s 56 of the stately homes where demolished to make way for the Johannesburg College of Education (Now Wits Education Campus). In 1975 many more were demolished and properties reduced for the construction of the M1 motorway, a major artery running North to South through the center of the Northern suburbs of Johannesburg.

Map of Parktown

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