The city was established in 1886 following the discovery of gold on what had been a farm. The city is commonly interpreted as the modern day El Dorado[by whom?] due to the extremely large gold deposit found along the Witwatersrand. The name is attributed to one or all of three men involved in the establishment of the city. In ten years, the population grew to 100,000 inhabitants.
A separate city from the late 1970s until 1994, Soweto is now part of Johannesburg. Originally an acronym for "South-Western Townships", Soweto originated as a collection of settlements on the outskirts of Johannesburg, populated mostly by native African workers from the gold mining industry. Soweto, although eventually incorporated into Johannesburg, had been separated as a residential area for Blacks, who were not permitted to live in Johannesburg proper. Lenasia is predominantly populated by English-speaking South Africans of Indian descent. These areas were designated as non-white areas in accordance with the segregationist policies of the South African government known as Apartheid.
Controversy surrounds the origin of the name. There were quite a number of people with the name "Johannes" who were involved in the early history of the city. Among them are the principal clerk attached to the office of the surveyor-general Hendrik Dercksen, Christiaan Johannes Joubert, who was a member of the Volksraad and was Republic's chief of mining. Another was Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger (better known as Paul Kruger), president of the South African Republic (ZAR) from 1883 - 1900. Johannes Meyer, the first government official in the area is another possibility.
Precise records for the choice of name were lost. Johannes Rissik and Johannes Joubert were members of a delegation sent to England to attain mining rights for the area. Joubert had a park in the city named after him and Rissik has his name for one of the main streets in the city where the historically important albeit dilapidated Rissik Street Post Office is located. The City Hall is also located on Rissik Street.