1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cape Town

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Cape Town (see 5.252), capital of the Cape province, and seat of the legislature of the Union of South Africa. In 1913 Cape Town municipality was greatly enlarged by the absorption of the suburban municipalities of Green Point and Sea Point, Woodstock, Maitland, Mowbray, Rondebosch, Claremont, Kalk Bay and Muizenberg, with Camps Bay and other adjacent areas. Cape Town thus extends across the Cape Peninsula from Table Bay to False Bay a distance of 17 m.—and covers an area of over 59 sq. miles. Wynberg (between Rondebosch and Muizenberg), though retaining a separate municipality, is a suburb of Cape Town. The pop., including suburbs, 170,083 in 1904 (44,203 whites), was 161,579 in 1911 (85,442 whites and 76,137 coloured). In 1918 the white pop. was 99,693; the coloured (estimate) 82,000.

Business, professional and official life is concentrated in Cape Town and at the docks. The chief feature of the decade 1910–20 was, however, the development of the suburbs, an enterprise in which the municipality took the lead. Cape Town in the season (Oct.–March) is the principal pleasure resort of South Africa.

On the sea front at Table Bay a promenade pier (1,500 ft. long) and esplanade (1,000 yd.) were completed in 1914. The pier replaces the old central jetty and is in a line with Adderley Street and Government Avenue, the principal thoroughfares. To the Houses of Parliament, in Government Avenue, a new wing was added (1910). At the foot of the Avenue is the site of the National Art Gallery. The Max Michaelis collection of Flemish and Dutch masters—including examples of Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Jan Steen and Vandyck—presented to the Union Government in 1912, is in “the Old Town House,” in Greenmarket Square. The building, a fine example of colonial Dutch 18th-century architecture, was transferred to the Government in 1916.

Rondebosch, 5 m. from the centre of the city, is the chief residential suburb. It contains Groote Schuur, formerly the property of Cecil Rhodes; since 1910 the official residence of the Prime Minister of the Union. In 1918 on the incorporation of the South African College (founded at Cape Town 1829) as the university of Cape Town, a site for new buildings—to replace those in the centre of the city was granted in the grounds of Groote Schuur; £500,000 towards buildings and endowment being provided mainly from bequests by Sir Julius Wernher and Mr. Alfred Beit. In 1912 a Rhodes memorial was unveiled at Groote Schuur by Earl Grey (a former director of the Chartered Company). In front of the memorial, a granite temple in the Doric style approached by a flight of steps, is the equestrian statue of “Physical Energy” by G. F. Watts. In the temple is a bust of Rhodes. Not far from Rondebosch, at Kirstenbosch, are the National Botanical Gardens, established 1913. In Oct. 1918 Cape Town suffered from a great epidemic of influenza, 7,000 deaths occurring in three weeks. In the autumn of 1919 influenza, but in a milder form, again ravaged the city.

Cape Town has since 1913 ranked second in importance to Durban among South African seaports, but it is first for passenger traffic. The shortage of shipping did not greatly affect Cape Town until 1918. In that year the total tonnage of cargo landed, shipped and transhipped at Table Bay was 1,070,000, the average for the three previous years being over 1,440,000 tons. In 1918 the net tonnage of shipping entering Cape Town was 2,347,000—British, 1,662,224; foreign, 684,776. In 1919 British shipping had increased to 2,253,000 net tons, while foreign shipping fell to 424,000 net tons. In 1918 the ratable valuation of Cape Town was £21,258,000, municipal revenue £778,000 and indebtedness £4,893,000. In 1919 the ratable valuation was £23,343,000.

Direct communication with the railways of the S.W. Protectorate (ex-German S.W. Africa) was opened in 1915 and in 1918 the railway going north had reached Lualaba (Upper Congo) at Bukama, a distance of 2,598 m. from Cape Town without break of gauge. An aerodrome on the trans-Africa air route was laid out at Young Field, Wynberg, in 1919, and the first airmen to cross the length of Africa, Lieut.-Col. Sir H. A. Van Ryneveld and Flight-Lieut. Sir C.J.Q. Brand, arrived at Wynberg on March 20 1920. A wireless station at Slang Kop, 18 m. S. of Table Bay, was opened in 1911. It has a normal range of 450 m. by day and 1,500 by night.