This largely encompasses the old Johannesburg - the CBD with Newtown and Braamfontein, and Joburg's more established suburbs. It encompasses Parktown, Houghton, Melrose, Rosebank, Parkhurst, Craighall Park, Melville, Greenside.
The inner city is an extremely diverse region, with areas ranging from severely degraded residential areas to the somewhat stable commercial area of Braamfontein. The estimated population of the region is 200,000, but the number of people living in the inner city on an informal basis is unknown, as many are illegal immigrants. Most higher-income residents and white people have moved to the northern suburbs and have been replaced by lower-income people. The unemployment, education, and age profiles of the area are all unknown, due to the difficulty of obtaining reliable information about the area. There have been significant movements to revitalise the CBD, most of which have focused on the reduction of crime, and the redevelopment of Newtown as a cultural hub for the city.
Centred around the CBD, the region includes the suburbs of Yeoville, Bellevue, Troyeville, Jeppestown, and Berea to the east. To the west it spreads to Pageview and Fordsburg. There are small industrial areas to the south, such as City West-Denver and Benrose.
Around 800,000 commuters pass through the inner city every day, and it functions as a regional shopping node for visitors from the southern suburbs. All major arterial roads originate from the inner city and spread out into other parts of the city. Johannesburg's main railway station, bus terminal, and minibus taxi centre are all located in the inner city.
The suburbs close to the CBD, in particular Joubert Park, Hillbrow, and Berea, have a large number of high-rise apartment blocks. These areas were formerly extremely desirable; but, due to the increase in crime, the housing stock has greatly deteriorated as many wealthier residents left for the northern suburbs. The existing buildings in the CBD area are insufficient to meet the current demands for housing in the area, and as a result, many under-utilised or abandoned office buildings have been taken over by squatters, or converted into residential housing units. The recreational spaces are no longer used, due to security problems.
Both the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Johannesburg are located in the inner city. One of South Africa's leading sporting venues, Ellis Park Stadium, is located in Doornfontein.
The first suburb to the north of the inner city is Parktown, which is located on a hill overlooking the inner city and Hillbrow. It has many wealthy residents and Edwardian-style mansions, as well as the Education and Medical campuses of the University of the Witwatersrand. The large concrete Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital dominates the skyline of Parktown. There are numerous office parks in the suburb as well. Just to the west of Parktown is Westcliff and Parkwood, which is one of the wealthiest areas in Johannesburg, as it is located on the side of a very tall hill and overlooks the inner city as well as the northern suburbs. Other wealthy residential suburbs, Saxonwold and Houghton continue to the north of Westcliff. Nelson Mandela has a house in Houghton, and it is also the location of the most prestigious secondary schools in Johannesburg.
The suburbs become more commercial to the north of Houghton. Rosebank is the centre of high-end shopping for northern suburb residents. Many smaller companies who cannot afford to be located in Sandton also are located in Rosebank. The suburbs near Rosebank, including Parkhurst, Parktown North, Craighall Park and Greenside are collectively known as "The Parks". Parkhurst is known for its village atmosphere and pavement cafés and restaurants. Greenside is next to Parkhurst and has developed Parkhurst-style restaurants.