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NNestled between the CBD and Braamfontein, just west of the Nelson Mandela Bridge is the Johannesburg Park Station, which serves as Johannesburg’s transport hub. It is the central railway and bus station in Johannesburg, and is the largest railway station in Africa. The station was established in 1897 and was originally named Park Halt.
Park Station has gone through a number of reinventions over the years. During its infancy, it was just a beautiful 154m-long steel and glass structure that was used until the late 1920s. In 1926 the city realised that it urgently needed a new station in order to accommodate the city’s emergence as the gold capital of the world. An architect, by the name of Gordon Leith, was called upon to reinvent it. This step ultimately led to the opening of the concourse in 1932, which boasted eight platforms, four approach tracks, and saw traffic of some 16 million passengers each year.
AAt one point, it even served as the point of arrival for the British Royal Family in 1947. Between 1951 and 1954, Park Station underwent more development. Platforms and tracks were reportedly lowered by 4m so that passenger concourses could be built above them and new tracks were added.
DDuring the 1990s, the concourse was sealed off when Nelson Mandela launched a new station concept – “an integrated commuter/retail space known as Park City”, this time without separate platforms and entrances for black and white people.
According to Mandela, Park Station had become “a symbol of a divided Johannesburg cut in two by a river of steel made up of railway lines and unfriendly buildings”. It also played a significant role during the 2010 Fifa World Cup as people commuted between the Johannesburg and Nasrec stations.
TTourists to the city of Johannesburg can make a detour to the old Park Station, which is visible from the Nelson Mandela Bridge. The long green roofed structure has become synonymous with the urban landscape of Newtown.
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