Cape Town’s St Georges Mall has always been one of the main arteries through the city – although today it is no longer the congested street it once was, but a leafy, stimulating pedestrianised thoroughfare linking the Foreshore to Government Avenue and the Company Gardens. Until 1830, the street was known by the name of Eerste Berg Dwars Straat (First Mountain Cross street), mercifully shortened to Berg Street. In 1830, the foundation stone was laid for the St George’s Church at the top of Berg Street and subsequently the name of Berg Street was switched to St George’s Street. Berg Street had been one of the first streets of the Cape settlement linking the seafront and the gardens. Houses were built on the street from as early as 1693. The street gained a reputation as the most desirable residential road for the settlement’s burghers until the early nineteenth century, when it developed into a financial and commercial street.
By the end of the century several newspapers had their headquarters on St George’s Street and it was nicknamed Cape Town’s Fleet Street. Today the Cape Times and the Argus still have their offices at the top of the street and it is always a worthwhile diversion to admire the newspapers’ photographs in their windows. In 1991/92, the street was closed to traffic and turned into a pedestrian-only walkway. The character of the street changes subtly from the bottom end at the Foreshore where take-away stalls are congregated to the top end of the mall, site of the modern mixed- use development ,Mandela Rhodes Place, and the newly completed Taj Hotel. Along the way, the street which is often known as the jewellery route passes by a number of jewellery shops, flagship department stores, tourist memorabilia stalls and outdoor coffee shops. The mood can switch from banking to buskers but, for the stretch of the street, the buzz and chatter of Cape Town street life fills the air.