When walking along the streets of “Africa’s richest square mile” surrounded by Manhattan-style skyscrapers, opulent houses, office towers, international and locally renowned brands, and exotic cars, it’s hard to believe that Sandton was merely sandy horse trails and grassy estates just 50 years ago.
In the early 1930s Sandton was known as the ‘Northern suburbs of Johannesburg’ and was established as a ‘gentleman estate’ area.
Rivonia was in most respects a rural village and served as an outspan stop on the old wagon road to Pretoria, which joined with Johannesburg when it spread north. Rivonia is the only ‘district’ of Sandton that can claim the distinction of not owing its existence directly to the northward spread of Johannesburg.
Sandton achieved independence from Johannesburg in the early 60s, when Sandton was largely a farming and smallholding community.
After promulgation, Sandton faced a few rocky years concerning the issue of whether it should remain a quiet, semi-rural dormitory town or if it should become a more balanced entity with significant businesses and more residential buildings, splitting the town council apart.
Business and commercial space
There was a rush for commercial space in the mid to late 1980s when land in Sandton, Rosebank and Parktown was cheaper than that in the Johannesburg CBD (central business district). These areas also offered a more luxurious lifestyle, such as gardens, streams and affordable office space that could not be accommodated in the Johannesburg CBD.
Sandton now represents the second largest office node in South Africa, following behind the Johannesburg CBD. The lavish office space in Sandton commands the highest office rentals in the country.
Sandton has become home to most of the major financial, consulting and banking firms in South Africa, with a substantial 7 to 10 percent of South African JSE listed companies having postal addresses in Sandton.
Constructed by Rapp and Maister during the early 1970’s, Sandton City opened its doors on 12 September 1973.
The construction of Sandton City helped transform Sandton from a farming community into a bustling business district.
Sandton is home to approximately 300 000 residents and 10 000 businesses, including investment banks, top businesses, financial consultants, the Johannesburg stock exchange and one of the biggest convention centres on the African continent, the Sandton Convention Centre.
If Sandton has achieved this much in the past 30 years, imagine where it will be in the next 30 years? Sandton is not only a monument to the past, but to a glittering and prosperous future.