Observatory is a Victorian suburb on the fringe of Cape Town centre (just three stops on the train from Cape Town Station). The housing is very dense with a range of single or double story terrace, semi-detached and free standing houses on lots ranging from 250m square to around 500 m square all within easy walking distance off the train station.
Roads are very narrow and garages almost non existent so everyone parks on the streets and walks in the road since there are few verges to accommodate pathways.
The density and inner-city location meant that it became very run down and rough when cars allowed people with money to move to the suburbs, but in the late 80s and 1990s the area started a gentrification and is now a fantastic bohemian suburb with a vibrant community that mixes an exciting array of residents from all walks of life from the super wealthy to students to some of the residents before the gentrification.
The pride of Obs is Lower Main Road, a beautiful village centre with a fantastic vibe, filled with a fantastic range of local bars, restaurants and coffee shops. All within easy walking distance of anyone living in the suburb or from the train station.
The Observatory Centre Improvement District established a few years ago is a civic organisation established by residents that beautifies public space, keeps the place clean and maintains security. It is a big reason why this area can continue to be a safe and successful neighbourhood that is a fantastic community with many families. What is needed now is for improved security on the train to make it a safer way to access the suburb - especially at night.
The Lisbeek River that runs parallel to the rail past the suburb provides a fantastic walking and cycling corridor linking the suburb to the city and neighbouring suburbs.
A fantastic example of high density urban living in a walkable and public transport accessible community. If you ever visit Cape Town a visit to Lower Main Road in Observatory is a must.