Synopsis: This is a brief article describing Scott's impressions of Johannesburg as a city and observations of the white population that lives there. 

'Jo'burg' Beautiful, Hard-Working City

This is the third in a series of articles by Jack Scott on the race problem in South Africa.

Vancouver Sun,  April 2nd, 1953

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, April 2nd  –When you've throttled the first feeling of tension that comes from the city's color bars you find that Johannesburg is perhaps the world's most beautiful mining camp. It is a modern, bustling, purposeful city and in many surprising ways a gracious one. 

Through the distant aperture of almost any of its broad streets you may see the mine dumps shining silver, golden, deep cream and orange, and this is a reminder that the city was built on gold and that less than 70 years ago all this was bare veldt. 

Now it is early autumn (the "winter," such as it is, begins on June 1st) and day after day the city is washed by the most incredible sunlight I have ever seen. 

It is a pure, clear, filtered sort of light that touches everything with beauty and drives every bird to ecstasy. 

To awaken here in the first golden light of dawn is like awakening in an aviary and the bird-song may be heard all day through the glamor of traffic. 

There are flowers everywhere and of such size and intensity of colour that they seem false to the eye of a visitor from a more temperate zone. 

Black Africans with bangles in their ears push wobbly wheeled carts through the city laden with vivid blooms, among them now great, waxy Easter lilies with a bell big enough to hold a large-size baby. 

The residents are justifiably proud of Jo'burg, as they invariably call the place, and are fond of describing it as "modern as any American city," but most of the architecture here is modern Dutch or modern British adapted to the semi-tropical climate. 

Strolling down some streets it is often hard to believe that you are not in London. The traffic flows in the contrary English style to the left (a fact you must keep constantly in mind on peril of your life) and a great many of the cars are pint-sized British models. 

Double-decker buses, as grand as any that pass through Piccadilly, roll ponderously down the grand avenues with the old familiar advertising signs on their sides for Craven A's ("Smoke to Your Throat's Content") and lozenges ("Hoarse? Go Suck a Zube!"). 

The buildings are tall, some of them 12 and 14-story in height, with scalloped balconies, and in the soft light of sunset as you walk under the shade trees past the apartment houses you hear the murmur of conversations from the tiers of open balconies overhead. 

In the older sections of the town your imagination may make the long jump from London to more tropical climes. Here the frame buildings have canopies out across the sidewalks and you are reminded of Central America or Mexico with open-air fruit and vegetables markets and the atmosphere of decay that comes from too much sun. 

The white people of the city (and I will be writing of the black people tomorrow) are singularly prosperous looking and it is rare indeed to see a man or woman dressed in working clothes. 

The women dress attractively and coolly in light silks or cottons and often in colourful picture has, but the men are more often uncomfortably formal in suits of heavy cloth or in tweed jacked and flannels. 

Their life seems very similar to the suburban life of any Canadian city by day, but altogether different at night. 

It is mainly the tourists who frequent the three or four second-rate night clubs. The resident prefers to stay at home and entertain in his pleasant, modern home on the tree-clad hills outside the city. For one thing, it is dangerous to be out at night. Very few women will risk being abroad alone after sundown. 

It is also a fact that the white man in Johannesburg is a prodigious worker who rises early (the streets at seven in the morning are alive with activity) and more often than not is abed before 10. 

Although even now the heat can be oppressive there is a tempo of urgency and the pace of the white pedestrian is a good beat faster here, I would say, than in Vancouver or Toronto. 

It is a city thriving on commerce, most of it linked with the great mines on its perimeter, and yet with an undeniable charm. 

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