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A new theatre, the Empire Palace of Varieties (or The Empire for short), replaced the Globe on the same site (corner of Fox and Ferreira streets in present-day Marshalltown).
Before 1900, Johannesburg boasted four theatres: the Standard, the Globe, the Royalty and the Gaiety. The Globe theatre, built in 1889, was the first permanent entertainment venue but was destroyed in a fire after only six months of operation.By the 1950s Sophiatown had come to symbolise Joburg’s jazz age and was closely associated with Drum magazine and the literary renaissance of the 1950s as well as the photography of masters such as Jurgen Schadenburg, Ernst Cole, Alf Khumalo and Peter Magubane.In the 1950s the Union of South African Artists established Dorkay House in the CBD which by the 60s had become a notable cultural institution for music, art, drama and dance.Located at the western sector of the Johannesburg Central Business District, the Newtown Cultural Precinct stretches from the Kazerne marshalling yards and railway lines to the north, to Dolly Rathebe Street in the south, Ntemi Piliso Street in the east and Quinn Street to the west.The core cultural precinct containing the internationally famous Market Theatre, Museum Africa and numerous dance and music venues straddles the historic Mary Fitzgerald Square.Situated west of Diagonal Street and beyond the borders of the original mining town, this racially diverse area incorporated parts of Brickfields, Aaron’s Yard and the Indian (or ‘Coolie’) location.
In 1904 this ‘new town’ was redesigned as a commercial and industrial area to maximise the nearby goods-yards.
This involved formalising the townscape, developing infrastructure and strictly enforcing racial segregation.
Lord Alfred Milner, 1st Viscount (1854 - 1925) was a leading British statesman and colonial administrator who played a significant role in the redevelopment of South Africa following the South African War (1898 - 1902).
Since 2006 a number of public artworks have also been installed in Newtown and Braamfontein.
It is only since the late 1970s that Newtown gained a reputation as Johannesburg’s main venue for alternative theatre – and only since the turn of the millennium that it has come to be developed as an integrated cultural precinct.
To the south of the square is the historic Electric and Workers Precinct containing the Workers Compound, Turbine Hall, the Electric Workshop, Sci Bono centre and the South African Breweries Museum.