The land on which the Botanic Garden is situated used to be part of the farm Braamfontein which dates back to 1853. In 1886, a farmer Lourens Geldenhuis, purchased a portion of farm Braamfontein and named it after Emmarentia, whom he married in 1887.
At the end of the South African War, in 1902, when many landless farmers returned home, Geldenhuis offered them employment to build the seven and a half-hectare Emmarentia Dam. Great blocks of stone were brought down from Melville Koppies. These were then fitted together to construct the wall that banks up water to the depth of 20 metres at the centre of the dam. The wall was built almost perpendicular and has been equal to any flood. Men were chosen from those who worked well on the dam wall, for a farm sharing experiment which Mr Geldenhuis initiated on his farm. The dam is fed by the Westdene Spruit, the catchment of which stretches as far as the suburb of Westdene south of the dam. In earlier times a furrow from the stream beside Parkview golf course also led water to the dam. Today this furrow no longer exists but the stormwater drains from the surrounding roads also feed the dam.
The dam and an area of land to the west of the dam formed an endowment from Geldenhuis to the city council for park and garden purposes. In 1952, the area was named Jan van Riebeeck Park in celebration of the tri-centenary of Van Riebeeck's historic landing at the Cape. Then in 1969, a resolution was passed for the building of the Johannesburg Botanic Garden on this land.
Information from http://www.jobot.co.za/dam.htm
Hours: Daily (Monday to Sunday): x:00am to x:00pm
Cost: Entry is free.
Refreshments: Available at a kiosk near to the main dam.