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Notes on the Geography of South Africa: Swellendam 4: Commercial Development

Watch the turnover of businesses.

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South Africa: Swellendam 4: Commercial Development picture 1

This building went up in the 1880s. Now it's a dry-goods chain store, but it was the Royal Hotel in 1930 and later became the Hotel Ten Damme.

South Africa: Swellendam 4: Commercial Development picture 2

The Ten Damme Hotel moved to and then left these new quarters, leaving its name on the surviving shopping center.

South Africa: Swellendam 4: Commercial Development picture 3

Before the heritage boom came to town, this was Swellendam's swank hotel; the parking lot has been filled in and made into shops.

South Africa: Swellendam 4: Commercial Development picture 4

This was the Commercial Hotel in 1924. Since it can't play the gables-and-thatch card, it adopts at least an Afrikaner name.

South Africa: Swellendam 4: Commercial Development picture 5

A house once, the gable was removed and the building divided into two businesses: dentist on the left, biltong shop on the right. (The stuff can be awfully chewy; having the dentist is handy if you break a tooth.)

South Africa: Swellendam 4: Commercial Development picture 6

Despite the claim to venerable tradition, this building used to be a pharmacy, a tailor's shop, a news stand, and a print shop. By 1960 it was a greengrocer.

South Africa: Swellendam 4: Commercial Development picture 7

Peel away the sidewalk addition and you can see an older building, though nothing remarkable.

South Africa: Swellendam 4: Commercial Development picture 8

The Chinese Shop was once a general store. Later it was a florist and a hairdresser. Easy come, probably not so easy go.

South Africa: Swellendam 4: Commercial Development picture 9

Few of these buildings would draw a second glance; here's one that might. The garage is still in business in new space next to the camera.

South Africa: Swellendam 4: Commercial Development picture 10

Audi. Vide. Tace. A Masonic motto. The former lodge is now a restaurant.

South Africa: Swellendam 4: Commercial Development picture 11

It sits on a highly engineered creek, its bank tamed by gabions. It's that Dutch heritage again!


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