Monday, July 31, 2006

OK or Greatermans?

Update: I bow to the seeminlgy better memory of people who have posted comments here: maybe it was the head quarters of Greatermans after all... I have changed the title and text accordingly.
I am still convinced I recall seeing OK Bazaars signs there when I used to drive past in the early 1980s. If anyone can shed any further light on this, I would appreciate it!
Old post text: If anyone oculdA comment posted here has said that the building which I have identified as the former OK Bazaars head office, is in fact the ex-head office of Greatermans.
I am almost 99% sure I remember it as a OK Bazaars office, which I used to drive past every day to work in Commissioner Street, but I will of course be happy to change it to Greatermans if anyone can help me right here. Please drop me an email if you can help.
Even if it is Greatermans, the pics will still stay on this page, because a Jewish family also owned Greatermans, by the way. I wonder what happened to the shops? Anyone know?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Jewish Museum, The Great Synagogue and Greatermans

Johannesburg always had a large Jewish population, and they played a significant role in the city's economy. There were three iconic buildings representing Johannesburg Jewry in the city centre: The Jewish Museum on the corner of Kruis and Marhsall Streets, the Great Synagogue in Smit Street, and the headquarters of the once famous Greatermans, who had their huge head office at the bottom of Commissioner Street. Let's see what these three places look like today...
First, below, the Jewish Museum at the corner of Kruis and Marshall Streets...

Then, below, the Great Synagogue in Smit Street: long since closed down as all the Jews fled the surrounding residential blocks, and today in use as a fast food chicken outlet..
And finally, the Commissioner Street head office of the old Greatermans, a shattered, boarded up ruin of a building.

Below: Ironically, vegetable vendors use the forecourt of the old Greatermans building as a makeshift vegetable shop: they can keep their wares behind the steel fence, 'safe' from their customers, who are just as inclined to steal the goods as they are to pay for them. At day's end, the vendors have to throw all their unsold wares back over the fence, jump over and leave, until the next day...