Saturday, August 8, 2009

Old Pictures of Greenmarket Square - Cape Town

Greenmarket Square Slave Market, Cape Town

Rights to this picture are owned by The Western Cape Provincial Archive

Greenmarket Square, Cape Town

Rights to this picture are owned by the Western Cape Provincial Archive

Greenmarket Square

Rights to this picture are owned by the Western Cape Provincial Government

I work on Greenmarket Square. It is a really vibey cobbled square in the centre of the CBD, with good restaurants all around it and interesting looking buildings looking over it. The Square has a very long history, dating back to the slave trade, when slaves were bought and sold at the market, but for the most part, the square was the centre of trade in goods and supplies to the hundreds of ships that passed the Cape of Good Hope en route to the Indies.

The Square was originally known as the Burgher Watch Square and was built on the corner of Short and Longmarket streets in 1696. It soon became a fruit and vegetable market, obviously from where the name derives and in 1961 it was declared a national monument tied to the history of slavery. Slaves used a tavern next to the Old Town House for drinking and gambling. There was also a fountain on the square from which slaves fetched water.

Important notices and proclamations were read from the balcony of the Town House, including the slave code, which read:

* Slaves must go barefoot and must carry passes.
* Any slave who stops in the street to talk to other slaves may be beaten.
* No meeting in bars, no buying of alcohol, no groups on public holidays.
* No gathering near church doors during a service.
* Any slave out after dark must carry a lantern.
* Curfew - slaves must be indoors by 22:00.
* No singing, whistling or noise at night.
* Not allowed to own and carry guns.
* Flogging and chaining for insulting a free man or making false accusations.
* Any slave who dares to strike a slave-holder must be put to death.
* Free black women are not allowed to be as well dressed as respectable burghers' wives and they must carry passes.

Presently, in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the Square is being fairly extensively upgraded.

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