The escalators at the Carlton Centre fascinated Pat Ntombela on his first visit to Johannesburg 19 years ago.
"Simple things such as these made the Carlton Centre unique. As a young man from Natal, I had only seen escalators at the Durban station," said the 39-year-old businessman.
Business is now the only thing that keeps Ntombela at the centre.
"Though the hype is not the same as before, it is still a great place for business," he said.
The complex has also not failed taxi driver Eddie Hlongwane over almost 35 years.
"The Carlton Hotel used to attract a lot of people to the city centre," but "the area is still busy after all these years," Hlongwane said.
The five-star Carlton Hotel, which hosted such international icons as Whitney Houston and former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, was closed in 1997 during the flight by big business to the northern suburbs.
The closure of the hotel and the crime in the area drove most businesses from the centre, lamented 68-year-old Anthony Sibisi.
But it seems Johannesburg residents have not abandoned the complex.
"People still like coming to the Carlton Centre but it's not the same anymore," Sibisi said, but added that there was still hope for Africa's tallest building.
"It is going back to its former beauty and glory. Some of the shops were left empty for years, but are being opened again," he said.