Dr HJ van der Bijl, a brilliant young scientist working in the United States, was called back to South Africa in 1920 by Prime Minister Jan Smuts to advise the government on planning South Africa'a industrial development. Van der Bijl oversaw the inauguration of the Iron and Steel Corporations's (ISCOR) first plant at Pretoria in 1934 and, with increased demand, 10 000ha was bought to build a large steelworks and model city for its employees - Vanderbijlpark.
The steelworks, the largest works in the Southern Hemisphere, began operating in 1947 and the town, which forms Gauteng's border along the Vaal River, was proclaimed in 1949 and attained municipal status in 1952.
Vanderbijlpark's 500 000 trees shade streets named after scientists, engineers, composers, poets, writers and medical practitioners. They house one of the most cosmopolitan communities in the country.