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I just came across this fascinating mini documentary of the 54-storey Ponte Tower in Johannesburg. It’s by filmmaker Philip Bloom and it’s only about 10 minutes long. It does a great job of summarizing the building’s interesting and checkered history.

Initially built in 1975, the tower first served as luxury apartments for the rich. The cylindrical tower, which is actually hollow in the middle, became quickly known as the place to live for the well to do.

But its architecture very much reflects the political climate at the time. Whites lived in the outward-facing units and their servants, and likely other blacks, lived in the grim inward-facing ones.

However, when Johannesburg got hit with the same white-flight that plagued many American cities after the war, the tower and area rapidly declined.

Ponte City, as it was referred to at the time, then became known for crime, drugs and suicide (this will become obvious when you see the inner core of the building).

It’s worth a watch.

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