Sophiatown can be found in Johannesburg at the foot of Melville Koppies West. Other areas nearby include Westdene, Westbury, and Newlands. The region is only about 9km from the city of Johannesburg itself. Early on in the suburbs history till now, Sophiatown has seen and known difficult times.
In the beginning, the suburb formed part of the Waterfall Farm, but over time was sold and the land was divided. The suburb was named after the wife of Herman Tobiansky, who bought the land. Her name was Sophia; some of the streets in the area are also named after their children. Victoria Street runs the length of Sophia town and intersects with Gerty and Bertha Street.
The suburb was also originally a place where black South Africans possessed freehold Rights and could therefore buy property in Sophiatown. The distance from Johannesburg coupled with a newly constructed sewage plant close by, made the area less appealing and many of the white people living in the area, moved away. The rest of the residents in Sophiatown included a majority of black South Africans, as well as Coloured, Indian and also Chinese.
After the National Party gained a foothold in 1948, plans were made to move the Black population further away from the Western Regions that were close to the white population at the time. These forced removals were met with protests’ from residents in these areas. Many were moved to Meadowlands, which is located in Soweto.
After the suburb was demolished and re-zoned, the area was re-named Triomf. Eventually the area became a place where many of the poorer white Afrikaners settled. Later in 1997, the decision to restore the old name Sophiatown was made, but it only became official in 2006. Today the suburb is a mixture of Black, White, Coloured and Indian communities.
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