Aerial View of Sea Point
|Municipality||City of Cape Town|
|Main Place||Cape Town|
|• Councillor||Beverley Schäfer (Democratic Alliance)|
|• Total||1.58 km2 (0.61 sq mi)|
|• Density||8,400/km2 (22,000/sq mi)|
|Racial makeup (2011)|
|• Black African||18.0%|
|First languages (2011)|
|Postal code (street)||8005|
Sea Point (Afrikaans: Seepunt) is one of Cape Town's most affluent and densely populated suburbs, situated between Signal Hill and the Atlantic Ocean, a few kilometres to the west of Cape Town's Central Business District (CBD). Moving from Sea Point to the CBD, one passes through first the small suburb of Three Anchor Bay, then Green Point. Seaward from Green Point is the area known as Mouille Point (pronounced MOO-lee), where the local lighthouse is situated. It is neighbored to the southwest by the suburb of Bantry Bay.
Sea Point is the only sea-side suburb of Cape Town with significant high-rise development and this, along with other factors, has made it a very popular residential area, or for investing in first or second homes and apartments. Before the most recent surge in property values, the suburb used to be regarded as a dangerous area, in part because some apartment blocks had been neglected by absentee landlords. Many foreign and local investors now see it as a place of urban rejuvenation and there are many Dutch, German and British owners.
The area was historically classed as an abode for whites only during the apartheid era, when formal classification of people by race was introduced into the South African political system. With the collapse of apartheid and especially from the late 1990s, a diverse mix of purchasers became active in the property arena and changed the demographic mix. Today Sea Point is home to a more diverse set of cultures. There is a cosmopolitan mix of Capetonians and international visitors.
Layout and lifestyle
Sea Point is a suburb of Cape Town and is situated on a narrow stretch of land between Cape Town's well known Lion's Head to the south-east and the Atlantic ocean to the north-west. It is a high density area, where space is at a premium. Houses are built in close proximity to one another towards the surrounding mountainside, while apartment buildings are more common in the central area and toward the beach-front. An important communal space is the beach-front promenade, a paved walkway along the beach-front used by residents and tourists for walking, jogging or socialising.
Along the litoral of the Sea Point promenade, the coastline has varied characteristics. Some parts are rocky and difficult of access, while other parts have broad beaches. Sea Point beach adjoins an Olympic-sized seawater swimming pool, which had served generations of Capetownians since at least the early fifties. Another fine beach further towards the city is known as Rocklands.
Adjoining Sea Point is Three Anchor Bay. The beaches along this stretch are in the main covered with mussel shells thrown up by the ocean, unlike the beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay, which are sandy. The rocks off the beaches at Sea Point are in large part basaltic, of late Precambrian age and internationally famous in the history of geology (vide infra).
There are extensive beds of kelp offshore. Compared to the False Bay side of the Cape Peninsula, the water is colder (11°C - 16°C).
Further along the coast, going towards Clifton, there is a plaque overlooking the rocks. This commemorates Charles Darwin's observation of a rare geological interface, where igneous rock has invaded, absorbed and replaced metamorphic rock.
Some of the first settlers in the area were the aristocratic, Protestant Le Sueuer family from Bayeux in Normandy. Francois le Seuer arrived in 1739 as spiritual advisor to Cape Governor Hendrik Swellengrebel. The family’s Cape estate, Winterslust, originally covered 200 acres on the slopes of Signal Hill. The estate was later named Fresnaye, and now forms part of the suburbs of Sea Point and Fresnaye.
Sea Point got its name in 1776 when one of the commanders serving under Captain Cook, Sam Wallis, encamped his men in the area to avoid a smallpox epidemic in Cape Town at the time. It grew as a residential suburb in the early 1800s, and in 1839 was merged into a single municipality with neighbouring Green Point. The 1875 census indicated that Sea Point and Green Point jointly had a population of 1,425. By 1904 it stood at 8,839.
With the 1862 opening of the Sea Point tramline, the area became Cape Town's first "commuter suburb", though the line linked initially to Camps Bay. At the turn of the century, the tramline was augmented by the Metropolitan and Suburban Railway Company, which added a line to the City Centre. During the 1800s, Sea Point's development was dominated by the influence of its most famous resident, the liberal parliamentarian and MP for Cape Town, Saul Solomon. Solomon was both the founder of the Cape Argus and the most influential liberal in the country - constantly fighting racial inequality in the Cape. His Round Church (St John's) of 1878 reflected his syncretic approach to religion - housing 4 different religions in its walls, which were rounded to avoid "denominational corners". "Solomon's Temple", as it was humorously known by residents, stood on its triangular traffic island at the intersection of Main, Regent and Kloof roads, a centre of the Sea Point community, until it was destroyed by the city council in the 1930s.
The suburb was later classed by the Apartheid regime as a whites-only area, but this rapidly changed in the late 1990s with a rapid growth of Sea Point's black and coloured communities.
Ships entering the harbour in Table Bay from the east coast of Africa have to round the coast at Sea Point and over the years many of them have been wrecked on the reefs just off-shore. In May 1954, during a great storm, the Basuto Coast (246 tonnes) ended up on the rocks within a few metres of the concrete wall of the promenade. A fireman who came to the assistance of the crew was swept off the wall of the swimming pool adjacent to the promenade by waves and was never seen again. The vessel was soon thereafter salvaged for scrap. In July 1966 a large cargo ship, the S.A. Seafarer, was stranded on the rocks only a couple of hundred metres from the Three Anchor Bay beach. The stranding was the cause of one of Cape Town's earliest great environmental scares, owing to the cargo including drums of tetramethyl lead and tetraethyl lead, volatile and highly toxic compounds that in those days were added to motor fuels as an anti-knocking agent. The ship was gradually destroyed by the huge swells that habitually roll in from the south Atlantic. Salvage from the ship can still be found in local antique shops.
In the mid to late 1990s the area experienced a rise in crime as drug dealers and prostitutes moved into the area. However due to the aggressive adoption of broken windows municipal management spearheaded by then area councillor Jean-Pierre Smith the crime rate declined throughout most of the 2000s.
Famous people from Sea Point
- Antony Sher, actor and writer.
- Sally Little, professional golfer.
- Saul Solomon, liberal Cape politician.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sea Point.|
- "Sub Place Sea Point". Census 2011.
- "Sea Point Days". Sundance Channel. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- Green, L: I Heard the Old Men Say. Cape Town: Howard Timmins, 1964. Chapter 17 "Sea Point was a Paradise" http://archive.org/stream/IHeardTheOldMenSay/IHeardTheOldMenSay_djvu.txt
- Green, L: I Heard the Old Men Say. Cape Town: Howard Timmins, 1964. Chapter 5, "Tower and Bells".
- Witness - Battle of Sea Point. Al Jazeera. January 15, 2009.