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Municipal modernity: The politics of leisure and Johannesburg’s swimming baths, 1920s to 1930s.


Urban History, 1-20. doi:10.1017/S096392682100047X


In the 1920s and 1930s, the all-powerful Johannesburg Council, comprising English-speaking middle-class white males, realized the importance of providing leisure spaces and sport facilities for its white residents and prioritized the building of swimming baths in their suburbs. It was regarded as the ideal facility, supporting the growing demand for outdoor activity. The upswing in the economy in the 1920s and especially in the 1930s, expedited this endeavour, as it eased the financial expenditure. As a result, Johannesburg could boast 10 new swimming baths by the end of the 1930s. The council was adamant that the swimming baths should be on a par with international standards. This venture fitted comfortably into the larger project of transforming the economically vibrant Johannesburg into a modern city. In contrast, the first swimming bath for Johannesburg's black residents was only built in the mid-1930s, proving that racial considerations determined the council's provision of leisure facilities.

Download full text (pdf): https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/4C3B864BE0DDF1AF2437319219FBD81C/S096392682100047Xa.pdf/municipal-modernity-the-politics-of-leisure-and-johannesburgs-swimming-baths-1920s-to-1930s.pdf


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