RAMAT GAN (Heb. רָמַת גַּן; "Garden Height"), city in central Israel adjoining Tel Aviv. In 1914, 20 settlers from Eastern Europe formed a group called Ir-Gannim ("garden city"); they envisaged a garden suburb where they could enjoy a country-like life without having to relinquish the amenities of a city. The group resolved to carry out the building without the use of any hired labor and forbade the establishment of factories within the settlement's boundaries. The project became feasible only in December 1921. The proximity of Jaffa and expanding Tel Aviv engendered Ramat Gan's quick growth. In 1922 it had 140 inhabitants, but in 1926 already rated municipal council status with A. *Krinitzi as its first mayor. In the 1930s relatively large industrial enterprises, instead of choosing Tel Aviv, preferred to establish themselves in Ramat Gan where land prices were cheaper. In 1939, the community had 5,000 inhabitants and grew vigorously. In 1948 its population was 19,000. Care was taken to preserve the design of the town. Avenues of trees were planted and many public gardens were laid out, utilizing mainly the slopes of the low sandstone hills. In 1948 the municipal area covered about 3 sq. mi. (7.92 sq. km.). After 1948 Ramat Gan's growth accelerated and city status was obtained in 1950. Population growth was most rapid in the early 1950s. In 1953 there were 42,000 inhabitants, in 1958, 71,500, and by 1963, 95,800. In 1961 *Bar-Ilan University and the Tel ha-Shomer hospital were affiliated to Ramat Gan. By 1968 the city's population totaled 106,800. In 2002 it was 126,000, making it the 11th largest city in Israel.
Bordering on Tel Aviv in the west and north, on Givatayim in the southwest, on Bene-Berak in the east and on Ramat ha-Sharon in the northeast, Ramat Gan, whose municipal area expanded to 4.7 sq. mi (12.2 sq. km.) in 2004, occupies a central position in the country's largest conurbation. The city has been one of Israel's foremost manufacturing centers (food preserves, chocolate, cigarettes, textile spinning, weaving, dyeing and finishing, metals, building materials, and wood). In 1968 the Israel Diamond Bourse was opened in Ramat Gan. Hotels and recreation sites constituted another branch of the city's economy. The largest of the city's network of gardens was the 494 acre (200 ha.) national park to the south with tropical tree species, a rose garden, and a large artificial lake with boating facilities. A quarter of the city's area is green. Ramat Gan has the country's largest sport stadium with a capacity of 60,000 and Israel's most important sports center. The Safari, a large zoo without bars, is also located in Ramat Gan, as is the *Maccabiah Village and many other installations and children's playgrounds belong to its municipal area. It has many cultural institutions (municipal library, museum, and lecture halls), and a chamber orchestra as well as the Beit-Zvi acting school and the Shenkar School of Engineering and Design.
[Efraim Orni /
Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]