The United States of Joburg

By Sarah Britten

My trip to Cradlestone Mall today reminded me that Joburg is many countries in one city. I felt somewhat like a Blue State visitor to a Red State town. The West Rand, with its wide spaces, penchant for big, tasteless houses, political conservatism and evangelical Christianity is like Texas, with hints of Colorado and Utah.

In contrast, the Sandton CBD is the equivalent of Manhattan. Rosebank and Killarney also have a whiff of New York City. Melrose and Houghton Estate are probably Westchester, whereas Bryanston is Connecticut. Parktown North is Vermont. The suburbs around the Sandton CBD are LA.

The area around Wits University is probably the equivalent of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Stanley Avenue in Milpark and Melville  are Portland, Oregon.

Maboneng is the meatpacking distract.

Randburg is the flyover states, everything from Ohio to Idaho. Linden, with its creative industries and small hipster population, is Austin, Texas.

Fourways is Arizona. Midrand is Kansas. Like a lot of Joburg, there is no there, there.

Here are some suggestions (feel free to agree or disagree):

The South is New Jersey.

Soweto is Atlanta and Georgia. Also a bit of Chicago.

La Rochelle could be New Orleans.

Kyalami Estate is Wisteria Lane (but then so is Dainfern).

And Hillbrow? Hillbrow is over the border in Tijuana.

First published on The Red Robot Project, 12 January 2014. (