Street View in South Africa

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Hillbrow, Johannesburg

With the world’s attention trained to the World Cup in South Africa, it’s a logical time for Google to debut its Street View coverage of the country. People unfamiliar with South Africa now have a chance to peer beyond the stereotypes and get a look at the country as it actually is. While there’s only so much you can tell by looking at something on a computer, even a virtual walk gives you a better sense of what a place is like than reading a sensational account of it in the media.

One of the first neighbourhoods I checked out was Hillbrow, the central Johannesburg neighbourhood that was a popular with white yuppies and students during the final decades of Apartheid but suffered terribly from crime and poverty after 1994. As I dragged Google’s little yellow man onto a random corner, I expected to see derelict buildings and empty streets — evidence of the abandonment and lawlessness I’ve seen described so often. Instead I found a neighbourhood with few vacant shops and plenty of new investment. There must still be problems, but a new narrative has obviously emerged — one that hasn’t yet been told in much detail.

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Soweto, Johannesburg

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Long Street, Cape Town

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Tuesday June 15 2010at 05:06 am , filed under Africa and Middle East, Public Space and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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