The Streets of Tel Aviv: The New City and Its Setting

As Tel Aviv expanded, rows of apartment blocks and commercial structures were erected where previously there were sand dunes, orange groves, olive orchards, and vineyards. Agrarian villages, too, were swallowed up by the forces of urbanization. During the early 1940s the adjacent German colony Sarona was also annexed to Tel Aviv. The new city’s growth outpaced its ability to adopt modern sanitary arrangements. Among this collection’s unique items is a set of sewer diagrams prepared by a London-based engineering firm for an underground sewer system that was constructed in the 1940s.

Tel Aviv was an expression of the Zionist vision for an independent Jewish commonwealth, and the names that its founders and planners chose for its streets clearly reflect that. For example, there were streets bearing the names of Herzl (Theodor Herzl was the founder of political Zionism), Ben-Yehuda (Eliezer Ben-Yehuda led the Hebrew-language revival), and Ahad Ha‛am (the philosopher of cultural Zionism) – and also King George, Allenby (after the British general who conquered Palestine), and Balfour (author of the 1917 declaration that established a Jewish national home in Palestine). Many streets commemorate pioneers of the Jewish Yishuv in Palestine, while others recall famous eminent personages of the Jewish Diaspora. Take, for example, the intersection of Ferdinand Lassalle and Eduard Bernstein Streets – which were named for two prominent nineteenth-century German Social Democrats (both of Jewish parentage). The tourist seeking a pantheon of modern Jewish history can find it on the streets of Tel Aviv.

Image of Bus Station
The bus station, photographed in the mid-1940s.

Image of Citrus House
The Citrus House (Bet Hadar) was the first steel-frame building to be constructed in Tel Aviv. The architect was Carl Rubin and it was constructed in 1935.

Map of Tel Aviv
General Plan of Tel-Aviv, Issues by the Technical Department of the Township of Tel-Aviv, ca. 1931.