If Durban has a pretty face it is Morningside. The leafy suburb of historic buildings, pavement cafés, churches, parks, bars and boutique shops is legend. Gautengers and Capetonians flock to Florida Road every New Year’s eve for the annual bash when thousands of revelers spill out of restaurants and join the countdown beneath the trees. Florida Road is one of the gems of Morningside, another is Mitchell Park. Every morning scores of patrons sit outside Vida e or at Mark Gold’s (the celebrity jeweler) on the corner of Innes and Florida roads, catching up on caffeine and chatter. They’re opposite the road from Mitchell Park and the Jameson Rose Garden.
Both of these parks are well used community facilities. They are places of fountains and flowers. Housewives meet for tea there, toddlers toddle through the grass or grub around in the sandpits, grandparents sip milkshakes outside the zoo and dog lovers walk their pets there. Named after colonial secretary of Natal, Sir Charles Mitchell, the park was established in 1894. It has 1500 species of mammals, reptiles and birds, including an Aldabra tortoise over 100 years, Mauritian deer, Nile crocodiles and Macaws. Mitchell Park backs on to the majestic King’s House, the sprawling state mansion used by the president whenever he is in town. All roads seem to run down from King’s House towards the sea. Most are tree-lined and have sea views. Grand, historic houses around Kings House sell for anything between R6 and R16 million, while flats a kilometer away with perhaps more spectacular sea views can be picked up for around R750 000.
“Morningside is very popular,” says veteran estate agent Lyn Tayfield. “It has snob value, but you can live there at quite a reasonable price. The buses are good and everything is close by. It is not too far from town and has nice shops and good schools. “The views are lovely too,” says Tayfield.
Mark Jackson is the owner of Delicious, a popular deli in the Windermere Centre. He opens his store at 7am and his coffee and muffins are a treat. Jackson describes Morningside appeal as “convenience”. “You can generally get whatever you want without having to drive too far. The architecture is pleasant. There are lots of Victorian and Edwardian buildings so it’s not flash.
“Morningside is a friendly suburb, everybody knows your name. But it doesn’t feel squashed because of the sea views, the parks and the trees. It’s also close to the beach and the rugby stadium. The arch of the new Moses Mabhida stadium is also pretty spectacular. “All round I think it’s beautiful. I like living here.”