Heritage Square was earmarked for demolition in 1960 but due to a lack of funds it simply fell into disrepair. 1980 saw the largest private conservation project in the city restore this historical area.
Buitengracht, meaning “outer canal” was historically a wagon route from Table Bay to the slopes of Table Mountain.
Buitengracht formed the outer boundary of Cape Town in 1790.
Originally called Heerestraat, then Kasteelstraat and finally Castle Street, it was one of the first named streets of the Dutch East India Company’s Cape Colony.
Bree Street is an English derivative of the Dutch word breë, meaning wide. In the mid-19th Century Bree Street was built wider than all other streets in Cape Town so ox wagons could perform a U-turn in the street.
The Grand Daddy Hotel has seven vintage Airstream caravan trailers parked on its roof, which it uses as hotel rooms. They were imported from the USA, and have been individually decorated by top local designers.
The use of the theatre, located in Heritage Square, as a Christian mission to freed slaves caused an outcry from upset slave owners, who threw stones at the building, destroying all its widows. This led to it being named St Stephens, after the Christian martyr who was stoned to death.
The 1865 directory shows how Long Street’s character has changed: Martin Henson of the Water Police lived at No. 1, close to Jan Liehaan the fisherman and Hendrick Smeda the boatman. The street almost had its feet in the sea.
Merchants on Long, a purveyor of contemporary African art and fashion, is housed in one of the oldest buildings in Long Street. The original building dates back 350 years and was made from “koffie klip”, also known as coffee stone, or slate, sourced from Table Mountain. After many iterations through the centuries it survives today as a fine example of Art Nouveau architecture.
The old slave church on Long Street can now be visited as the South African Mission Museum. This church was founded in 1799 by Reverend Vos of Tulbagh with the aim of spreading Christianity to the slaves of the Cape.
St Stephen’s church on Heritage square today houses the beer salon &Union. The bar was originally to be named Brewers & Union, but the church’s owners refused to allow the word “brewers” to adorn the sacred site.
Hout (Wood) Street was originally called Oliphantstraat (Elephant Street) after one of the three ships that sailed into Table Bay on 6 April, 1652, carrying Jan van Riebeek and the Cape’s first European settlers.
The Cape Heritage Hotel, in today’s Heritage Square, is built around a courtyard safely protecting the oldest fruit bearing vine in the Southern Hemisphere, believed to have been planted in the 1770s.
Strand Street was originally called Sea Street and was renamed Strand in 1790. It was the widest and most fashionable street to live on in Cape Town during the 17th and 18th Centuries and was a favourite residential area for prosperous burghers.
Wale Street is not named after the giant mammal but rather the Wallon family, early Huguenot settlers that lived in the area.
Dorp Street was home to Willem Berg’s Kantein – a bar where prominent burghers met to enjoy a glass of wine in the early 18th century.
St Stephen’s church itself was originally a theatre, which was open to all races. In 1829 slaves and free blacks were no longer allowed in the space. Ironically, the theatre was later used as a mission church for freed slaves.
Long street was originally known as De Derde Berg Dwars Straat, which loosely translates from Dutch as ‘the third road parallel to the mountain’.
The Grand Daddy hotel building, on the corner of Long and Castle Streets opened its doors as the Hotel Metropole in 1895. The vintage elevator at the Grand Daddy is the oldest operational elevator in Cape Town.