On Sunday 23 July, 2017, the Durban Art Deco Society was treated to a fascinating account of the evolution of the mixed-race Western Vlei zone extending from Currie's Fountain, through the Warwick Triangle and markets, to the Emmanuel Cathedral and Red Square. Leonard Rosenberg, Head of Physical Planning at the Durban University of Technology, addressed town-planning (errors), and social, sport, political, commercial, religious and educational issues in a lively presentaion, before guiding the group of 25 through this area which he has researched extensively.
By 1870 the small town of Durban was concentrated around Smith, West and Pine streets, connected by rail to the Point, and lying between the Western and Eastern Vlei's - these vlei's arising on the low-lying land extending North to the Umgeni River. The Western Vlei lay between the town and Currie's Fountain at the foot of the Berea hill - and this was deemed a suitable place to accommodate the growing need for markets, shops and housing of non-indentured Indian settlers and other races - effectively a parallel black town. Subsequent development was hugely impacted by the demolition of the Victoria Street Bridge (to widen the railway lines), and the embarkation on an over-ambitious freeway scheme (1970), underneath which modern commuters and traders have to scamper dangerously from pavement to pavement.