Coastal city founded in Ottoman Palestine in 1909; capital of Israel, 1948–1950.
Tel Aviv is a sprawling metropolis surrounded by suburbs; it was the first city to be established by Jews in the modern era. As numerous Jewish settlers arrived in Palestine in the late nineteenth century, they had increasing difficulties finding accommodations at affordable prices in the overcrowded residential areas of Jerusalem and Jaffa. In both cities, Jews began to purchase land and build new suburbs.
Jaffa is adjacent to, and today part of, Tel Aviv because Ahuzat Bayit, the building society, purchased beachfront property and underwrote the construction of Tel Aviv's first sixty houses in 1909—initially intended as a new suburb of Jaffa. Important differences between this project and other suburbs could be immediately discerned. Architects and engineers helped design the arrangement of houses and streets; individual land grants were large; all connecting roads and streets were paved; and running water was supplied to each house. Ahuzat Bayit became the most spacious and comfortable suburb in all Palestine. The building society changed the name to Tel Aviv in 1910, marking both a biblical text (Ezekiel 3:15) where the name appears and mention in Nahum Sokolow's translation of Zionist leader Theodor Herzl's Alteneuland (The Old New Land). Initially planned as a residential suburb, all of Tel Aviv's first settlers worked in Jaffa. Many of Tel Aviv's founders had private capital; they owned businesses and worked in the free professions. Jewish engineers and contractors built the city's first houses with supplies furnished by Jewish factories. Symbol of the New Yishuv (Jewish community), Tel Aviv's relatively rapid expansion paused during World War I, but resumed and intensified during the British mandate (1923–1948).
Although Zionism stressed agricultural settlement, and donated funds subsidized the cost of collective and communal settlements, most immigrants chose to live in cities and many selected Tel Aviv. By 1935, the population had grown from 2,000 to 120,000 and Tel Aviv became the political, economic, and cultural center of the Jewish National Home. Factories and businesses stood alongside the Histadrut (Jewish Labor Federation) and military headquarters. Publishing firms, major newspapers, several dance and theater companies, the symphony, and an important museum were founded. Transport and roads radiated out to other cities and the countryside.
In May 1948, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the independence of the State of Israel at a meeting held in the Tel Aviv Museum. In 1950, the commercial port city of Jaffa was incorporated with Tel Aviv, forming the twin city of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. Tel Aviv-Jaffa has benefited from Israel's rapid economic growth, today numbering more than 350,000 residents. (The population of Tel Aviv and its outskirts numbers 2.5 million.) The Histadrut headquarters no longer dominates the skyline or the city's economy. Art, music, and drama flourish in galleries and theaters, and there is an impressive array of shops, cabarets, and restaurants (both kosher and non-kosher). Much of Tel Aviv's cosmopolitan core now remains open on the Jewish Sabbath, presenting an urban profile that differs in scale and tone from that projected by Jerusalem.
Kark, Ruth. Jaffa: A City in Evolution, 1799–1917, translated by Gila Brand. Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi Press, 1990.
Katz, Yossi. "Ideology and Urban Development: Zionism and the Origins of Tel Aviv, 1906–1914." Journal of Historical Geography 12 (1986): 402–424.
Orni, Efraim, and Elisha Efrat. Geography of Israel, 4th revised edition. Jerusalem: Israel Universities Press, 1980.
donna robinson divine
A coastal city founded in Ottoman Palestine in 1909. As Jewish settlers arrived in Palestine in the late nineteenth century, they found it difficult to find affordable homes in the overcrowded residential areas of Jerusalem and Jaffa. Ahuzat Bayit, the building
society, purchased beachfront property and underwrote the construction of Tel Aviv's first houses in 1909. Initially planned as a residential suburb of Jaffa, Tel Aviv expanded rapidly. By 1935 the population had grown from 2,000 (in 1909) to 120,000, and the city included businesses, factories, and the headquarters of Histradut, the umbrella trade union organization. In 1948 David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel's statehood at a meeting held in the Tel Aviv Museum. In 1950 Jaffa was incorporated with Tel Aviv into the twin city of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. The population of central Tel Aviv reached 350,000 by the early twenty-first century, but the population of greater Tel Aviv, with its sprawling suburbs and outskirts, was 2.5 million.