Color in Cape Town Neighborhoods

May 12, 2013 • Reporting Trips, South Africa 2013 • Views: 679

By: Emma Goldberg

One of the best things about being in a new city is having the opportunity to wander the streets, meeting new people and encountering all of the colorful sites that Cape Town has to offer.

Yesterday we walked around a neighborhood called Woodstock, a heavily gentrified open market that one of the Glotrippers will actually be investigating in her article for the fall issue, so stay tuned! Woodstock is a fascinating blend of low-income housing and artistic, commercial spaces.  Walking the streets, we had the opportunity to take in all of the creativity the artists have brought to the neighborhood. Their work spills out of studios and galleries and onto the streets, manifested in the murals and graffiti all throughout the area. We stumbled across one building with a building covered in boldfaced print that read:

“Removing the grayness from the soul of the city is the job of musicians, artists and poets.”

And yet, despite the walls covered in intricate portraits and swirling neon murals, some grayness persisted. We saw children running up and down the streets begging for change, their eyes following us as we guiltily dug into candy bars and trail mix. One artist told us that when she once left her car parked out on the street past dark, beggars broke into it and took everything of value, including the car battery. Even as we wandered the streets in wonder of the brightly-colored graffiti, we noted the neighborhood’s poverty and desperation. Despite the artists’ best efforts, some of the city’s grayness has yet to be removed.


After exploring Woodstock, we walked through the winding streets of the city centre and ended up at the Victorian Alfred Waterfront. Aptly described by one of the Glotrippers as “Cape Town’s Disneyland,” the V&A waterfront is filled with posh restaurants, resort-style hotels, and even a large ferris wheel (which after a bit of debate, we decided not to ride). We speculated that some of the area’s high-end development might have sprung up to accommodate tourists during the World Cup. In particular, one street near the waterfront had a large pedestrian bridge with no apparent purpose. It’s fascinating to see how profoundly a city changes after just one summer-long tournament.

Overall the day offered us a lens into the many different sides of Cape Town. Walking from the spectacular artistry of Woodstock to the resorts of the waterfront felt like a trip from Brooklyn to Orlando, Florida. We’ll see what other worlds we stumble into tomorrow.

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