Burgerspark, Pretoria’s oldest park

Burgerspark, Pretoria

‘‘Conventionally, neighborhood parks or parklike open spaces are considered boons conferred on the deprived populations of cities. Let us turn this thought around, and consider city parks deprived places that need the boon of life and appreciation conferred on them.” (Jane Jacobs, The death and life of great American cities, 1961).

Poor, dear Burgerspark, I thought, but I was wrong - Burgerspark is not a rejected park. It is a peopled park which is to say it is a successful park.

Not an optimally used park, though: there haven’t been musical shows on the beautiful bandstand for decades, all the pumps and copper piping have been stolen from the greenhouse, the tea house is long gone, sleeping men are strewn around - but there are flat-dwellers picknicking over weekends, there are young mothers who take their toddlers to play on green grass.

And then there is George Zietsman. He is the city parks manager responsible for the area stretching from Church Square to Jan FE Celliers Park, and including the Sunnyside swimming pool precinct. His parents, like mine, are of an earlier generation who lived in the city centre but have long since moved away. For their benefit (since the park’s prostrate men unsettle those of more Calvinist persuasion) he has planted bougainvillea all along the periphery so that they, too, can still enjoy the park’s beauty as they drive past.

He has re-established the romantic character of Pretoria’s oldest park. >>