Not only does Fischer’s Jewellers embody the essence of Port Elizabeth but also for many of its citizens, especially in prior generations, Fischer’s was their preferred choice for jewellery. Also, the building is one of the remaining structure built in the Art Nouveau style.
Apart from this obvious connection, my grandmother had another, more obtuse connection, to this iconic store.
Main picture: One of the very earliest photos of the newly opened Fischer & Co building in Main Street circa 1914
More modern does not necessarily equate with better. In this regard, the Mutual Arcade in Main Street, Port Elizabeth comes to mind. From 1900 to 1958, it graced Main Street to be replaced with an insipid rectangular building.
Main picture: The Mutual Arcade circa 1904 showing shops at ground level in Main Street
Sixty one years after the landing of the 1820 Settlers, the tramway network was established on 14th May 1881. As the initial trams were all horse drawn, no routes up the hill could be established. Instead the line followed the route of Main Street and its various extensions to North End. From 16th June 1897, it was converted to electrical power which allowed the routes to be extended up White’s and Russell Road.
The tramway network was finally closed down on 17th December 1948.
Main picture: My favourite picture of this era showing a horse drawn tram at the terminus where the incoming and outgoing lines merged
Pictures of Main Street dating from the era reveal an array of buildings which would not be any different from those of the set of a Western movie. Furthermore few if any of these buildings still stand apart from the building at the southern end of this road: the City Hall.
In most cases, the dates of the photographs are unknown.
Main picture: Main Street prior to trams