TEL AVIV-JAFFA (Heb. תֵּל־אָבִיב-יָפוֹ), second biggest city in Israel, in the central part of the Coastal Plain, created in 1949 by the merger of Tel Aviv and *Jaffa. Tel Aviv itself, the "first all-Jewish city" (הָעִיר הָעִבְרִית הָרִאשׁוֹנָה) in modern times, was founded in 1909, originally as a garden suburb of Jaffa, but it evolved over several decades, particularly beginning from the 1930s, to become the largest urban settlement of the new yishuv and the core of conurbation which is, in fact, a kind of "megalopolis" stretching from *Herzliyyah in the north to *Reḥovot in the south. Tel Aviv-Jaffa is a bustling city, with 384,000 inhabitants in 1970 and 360,500 in 2002. The municipal area is around 20 sq. mi. (50 sq. km.). Tel Aviv-Jaffa serves as the business, entertainment, press and publishing center of the country. Despite efforts to transfer more and more government and administrative offices to Jerusalem, it remained the site of the Ministry of Defense and of the *Histadrut executive, and also contained, in the large perimeter of its conurbation, the towering diamond-exchange building and a great number of medium and small industries and workshops. It lacks a homogeneous character. Its oldest central part, originally (before World War i) an idyllic cluster of one-story family houses surrounded by gardens, with the Herzlia High School (the Gymnasia) as their center, is now an agglomeration of overcrowded, narrow streets of a typically Mediterranean character, whose old houses have disappeared to make room for office buildings, including several skyscrapers, among them what was once the tallest building in the Middle East – Migdal Shalom, on the original site of the Gymnasia. The southern parts of Tel Aviv are the poorest, housing – often in slum like buildings – tens of thousands of old-time immigrants, mostly from Afro-Asian countries. These immigrants streamed to Tel Aviv en masse in the early 1950s, due to their inability to adjust to the initially harsh conditions of agricultural settlement in the outlying parts of the country.
On the other hand, there are the newer parts of the city, from Allenby Road northward, and particularly the quarters and suburbs erected in the later 1950s and the 1960s. Among these are Ramat Aviv, which also houses *Tel Aviv University. These sections have had a Central and Western European, and often somewhat "Americanized," character. Tel Aviv's commercial and bohemian center was Dizengoff Street and it was, on the whole, the only place in Israel with a pronounced "metropolitan" rhythm of life. During the 1990s the bohemian center of Tel Aviv shifted to Shenkin Street and its surroundings farther south, where a diversified population of artists and secular and religious people lived together.
Tel Aviv has struggled with the typical problems of a city of its kind: sea and air pollution (an outmoded sewage system and the enlargement of its power station, "Reading d," whose character changed from an old, peripheral, out-of-town building into a modern plant with a huge chimney dominating large parts of the city), traffic jams, juvenile delinquency, beggars, etc. Politically, control of the municipal government of Tel Aviv was always a major objective of the contending parties, mainly in the tug-of-war between the Labor and non-Labor camps. Tel Aviv's main period of development from a suburb into a city occurred under the mayoralty of moderate non-Labor personalities, General Zionists such as Meir *Dizengoff and Israel *Rokach. However, in the 1960s its elections resulted in a Labor-dominated municipal council, with labor leaders such as Mordekhai *Namir occupying the post of mayor. Tel Aviv often evokes extremely contradictory feelings. There are people who flee from its noise and heat into quieter suburbs (thus diminishing the number of its inhabitants, though not of the conurbation as a whole), or those who regard it as a drab "upstart" in comparison with the eternity and beauty of Jerusalem. On the other hand, it has its devoted local patriots, including well-known poets, who have regarded it as a realistic embodiment of the renewed Jewish nation, consisting of the "ingathered exiles from all corners of the earth" and who are attracted by its very life and liveliness.
Background to Tel Aviv's History and Development
Tel Aviv attained its preeminent position in less than three decades after its founding. Its progress is particularly striking because modern conditions deprive it of most of the advantages which allowed Jaffa to thrive in antiquity: its straight, shallow shore is unsuitable for the construction of a modern port, and low, narrow sandstone ridges bar the cooling sea breeze, making the summer climate sultry, and impeding the drainage of rainwater from certain sections of the city. Only its location at a focal point of the country's communications network can be valued as a positive factor. Tel Aviv's phenomenal growth is therefore to be attributed to historical circumstances rather than to geographical assets. The fact that until 1948 Tel Aviv constituted the first and only modern all-Jewish city, while all the country's other towns had either a mixed or a totally non-Jewish population, gave the city its special character and imposed on it unique tasks in the yishuv 's social and cultural life – eventually making it the principal workshop for preparing Israel's independent statehood.
Tel Aviv's beginnings go back to the revival of the Jewish community of Jaffa in 1820. In that year, a Jewish traveler from Constantinople named R. Yeshaya Adjiman brought the first house in Jaffa into Jewish possession (among the local Arabs it soon became known as "Dār al-Yahūd," i.e., "the Jewish house," and it served as a temporary hostel for newcomers). The Dār al-Yahūd served as the nucleus around which grew the new Jewish community at the beginning of the 19th century. The first Jewish settlers were merchants and artisans originating from North Africa who preferred living from their own handiwork instead of being dependent on *ḥalukkah in Jerusalem. In the second half of the 19th century, Jews coming from Europe attached themselves to the Sephardi community and laid the ground for the Ashkenazi community; the two communities were amalgamated in 1891. After the city wall was completely demolished in 1888, Jews began to live beyond the confines of Jaffa's Old City.
Throughout the ages, Jaffa served as the "gate to Zion," even in periods when it had no permanent Jewish inhabitants. Travelers and immigrants intending to settle in Jerusalem and the country's other "holy cities" entered the country via its port, which continued to constitute the gateway for the first two large waves of Zionist immigration, from 1882 onward. The First Aliyah caused a profound change in Jaffa's Jewish community. It was there that the first signs of "political Zionism" appeared, that the first Zionist public institutions were established, and that foundations were laid for both Hebrew education and Jewish industry. While Jaffa's Jewish community previously totaled about 1,000 persons, 5,000 new immigrants settled there, thronging the narrow and dirty lanes of the town and living in alien and often hostile surroundings where they were dependent on the whims of Arab landlords.
To alleviate their lot, the Jerusalemite Shimon *Rokach founded a welfare society named Benei Ẓion in 1884, simultaneously establishing (together with his brother Eliezer) a second society, Ezrat Israel, whose functions went beyond giving alms: it aided in establishing a hospital, and also initiated the building of Jaffa's first Jewish quarter, Neveh Ẓedek, in 1887. For this purpose, an area of about 14,000 sq. yds. was acquired from Aharon Chelouche, one of the founders of Jaffa's Jewish community. Jaffa Jews were delighted with this quarter, dubbing it "the Parisian houses," although with its narrow lanes, tightly packed houses, and absence of sanitary facilities, it differed little from Jaffa's other quarters. Its importance, however, lay in the fact that it assembled Jews in a geographical community framework based on fraternal relations. Jaffa's second Jewish quarter, Neveh Shalom, was founded in 1891 by Zeraḥ *Barnett. It extended over about 10,000 sq. yds., and was acquired from Arabs. The homes put up for sale remained empty until the rabbi of the Jaffa community, Naphtali Herz Halevi, bought the first house. Others followed him, and a talmud torah, Sha'arei Torah, was opened there in 1896 by the Ashkenazi community. The quarters soon combined their religious character with the new national spirit. Absorbing more inhabitants from among the Sephardi Jews, they expanded and linked up with each other and with Arab Manshiyeh. More Jewish quarters were added to Jaffa in 1904–05, including Maḥaneh Yosef, Kerem ha-Teimanim, and Ohel Moshe. The lands for this purpose had been secured by the founding families of the Jaffa Jewish community, such as Matalon, Moyal, and others.
The Second Aliyah arriving in those days swelled the community's numbers to 7,000, again making dwellings scarce in both the Arab and Jewish sectors and apartment rents excessive. This provided the impetus for founding another Jewish suburb within the boundaries of Jaffa's precincts. The idea had been in the air for a time and was forwarded from various sides, but practical results were achieved only in a meeting on July 5, 1906, which took place in the Yeshurun Club, Jaffa. It was attended by more than 100 Jaffa Jews, both veterans and new immigrants, including merchants, artisans, teachers, and members of other free professions. On the spot they founded an Aguddat Bonei Battim (House Builders' Society), elected a steering committee, and drew up a membership list. Later in the same year, with the number of members reaching 60, the society was renamed Aḥuzzat Bayit (Housing Property). Meanwhile, the Jaffa Jewish community had increased to 8,000, out of a total population of 47,000. The Anglo-Palestine Bank had opened its Jaffa office, as had the Palestine Office of the Zionist Organization under Arthur Ruppin (1908), and the E.L. Lewinsky Seminary for women teachers, all strengthening the middle-class and intellectual element in the community.
The founders' idea was to establish a garden suburb where they could retire every evening after their day's work in noisy Jaffa. It was to be modeled after similar suburbs of European cities, and was not regarded as an extension of the original Jaffa as the earlier Jewish quarters had been. This firm resolution ultimately transformed the small garden settlement of Aḥuzzat Bayit into the "first all-Jewish city." When the founders prepared the basis for urban development, they could hardly hope to be reckoned as Zionist pioneers, as the Zionist Movement then directed its resources exclusively toward agricultural settlement. They also had to overcome the numerous obstacles placed in their path by the Turkish authorities. The members deposited the sum of 100,000 francs with the Anglo-Palestine Bank in order to purchase the "Karm Jabali" land northeast of Jaffa. The society also obtained a loan of 300,000 francs from the Jewish National Fund Head Office in Cologne, in order to construct the first 60 houses. On April 11, 1909, the housing plots were portioned out by lottery, at a meeting on the Aḥuzzat Bayit land which was henceforth regarded as Tel Aviv's founding day.
Within a year, the suburb's main streets – named after *Herzl, *Aḥad Ha-Am, *Judah Halevi, *Lilienblum, and *Rothschild – were laid out, the first 60 houses were completed, and the foundations were prepared for the Herzlia Gymnasia. On May 21, 1910, the suburb's name was changed to Tel Aviv, based on the name of a Babylonian city mentioned in Ezekiel 3:15, and chosen by Nahum Sokolow as the title of his Hebrew translation of Herzl's novel Altneuland.
Until World War i, Tel Aviv grew as more small suburbs came into being around the first nucleus: in the east, Naḥlat Binyamin (named after Edmond de Rothschild) and Merkaz Ba'alei Melakhah (Artisans' Center), and in the north, Ḥevrah Ḥadashah (New Society, later becoming Allenby Street) and Ge'ullah. The last brought Tel Aviv's area up to the seashore, and the former created the contact with the Neveh Ẓedek and Neveh Shalom quarters. Until 1914, Tel Aviv's area had increased 20-fold to over 1,000 dunams, and its population had grown from 300 to 2,026. There were 182 houses, mostly one-story. Zionist institutions began to move out of Jaffa to Tel Aviv.
The war halted the town's progress. The attitude of the Turkish authorities deteriorated from suspicion to open hostility. Tel Aviv's local council tried to meet emergencies by providing food for local and other Jews, speeding their naturalization as Turkish citizens, regulating their mobilization for the Turkish army, etc. Official hostility culminated in the wholesale expulsion of the Jews from both Jaffa and Tel Aviv on March 28, 1917. The evacuees were absorbed in the moshavot of the country's interior, and some of them migrated as far as Damascus and Egypt. The few people remaining in Tel Aviv set up an "emigrants' committee," and formed a guardsmen's group to protect the evacuees' property.
On Nov. 16, 1917, Jaffa and Tel Aviv were occupied by British forces. Soon after the Jews could return, and a year later they joyfully celebrated the end of the war. In 1919, young penniless immigrants of the Third Aliyah came to Tel Aviv but found neither housing nor work. Tents were put up for them on the seashore and elsewhere. The Arab riots which broke out in Jaffa on May 1, 1921, caused many Jews to abandon their homes and shops and seek refuge in Tel Aviv. Hundreds of these families were also temporarily housed in tent camps on newly acquired lands of the later New Commercial Center – the "Merkaz Misḥari," the Tschlenow quarter, and the "Homeless' Quarter," or Nordiyah. Jaffa remained without Jewish merchants. On May 11, 1921, Tel Aviv was accorded "town council" status with partial administrative and judicial autonomy, and the right to maintain a local police force. A municipal court was set up, as well as a fire brigade and a first aid station. For municipal transportation, small buses of the "Sunbeam" type were introduced. In 1922, six quarters of Jaffa, among them Neveh Ẓedek and Neveh Shalom, were annexed to Tel Aviv, whose population reached 15,000. A year later a power station was opened by the Palestine Electric Corporation (founded by Pinḥas *Rutenberg), and electric lights replaced hurricane lamps.
In 1924, the Fourth Aliyah composed mostly of middle-class elements from Poland began to arrive, and many of its members took up residence in Tel Aviv, establishing small industries in its southern reaches (Wolowelsky Street, Givat Herzl). In 1925, the town's population had jumped to 34,000, construction of houses progressed rapidly, and the southern Tschlenow, Schapira, and Neveh Sha'anan quarters came into being. Cultural institutions, such as Habimah, the Ereẓ Israel Opera, and the Kumkum satirical theater group were founded. The *Histadrut and its local council (Mo'eẓet Po'alei Yafo) became an important factor in the city's development. The built-up area expanded in two directions, southeast and north, as the first three-story houses began to appear, and a commercial center crystallized along the Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Petaḥ Tikvah roads, and Herzl and Naḥalat Binyamin streets. A break in this quick expansion came with the economic crisis of 1927–30, which affected particularly the middle class of the Fourth Aliyah, caused many of the new enterprises to close down and unemployment to spread, and brought building activities to a halt.
Between the 1920s and 1940s, the city's expansion was constricted in the east and southeast by the Arab villages of Sumeil, Salameh, etc., and the German colony of Saronah, with their plantation belt. The inhabitants of these areas, enjoying mounting prosperity thanks to the expanding market in the nearby city, saw no reason to sell their land even at speculative prices. This left the narrow strip of sand dunes and sandstone ridges in the north as the principal reserve for the city's growth. To overcome the haphazard expansion which had followed opportunities of land acquisition, the British town planner Sir Patrick Geddes was invited in 1925 to prepare a blueprint. Although he knew that the original idea of Aḥuzzat Bayit as a garden suburb had by then become obsolete, he followed the old layout of two north-directed main roads, extending Ben Yehudah and Dizengoff beyond Bograshov Street to the Yarkon River bed, thus bringing the south-north length of Tel Aviv to over 3 mi. (5 km.), while the west-east width measured only a few hundred meters. The short side streets in the latter direction became blind alleys, often ending in tennis and other sports courts. This layout made services (communications, water, electricity) relatively expensive for the city's northern part. The shortage of building ground engendered land speculation, making north Tel Aviv the domain of the relatively well-to-do, who could afford higher apartment rents.
After the economic crisis, a new development arrived with the Fifth Aliyah from Germany, which began in 1933 and reached its high point in 1935. The newcomers brought managerial and technical know-how, as well as financial means. The city's population leaped from 45,564 in 1931 to 120,000 in 1935. The building and industrial prosperity attracted laborers and professionals from the moshavot and from other urban centers to Tel Aviv. The establishment of larger industrial enterprises was aided by the *Haavara agreement, which enabled immigrants from Central Europe to transfer to Palestine part of their capital in the form of goods and machines. The last remnants of the Aḥuzzat Bayit suburb disappeared, with industry taking up more of the city's southern reaches. On May 12, 1934, Tel Aviv was officially recognized as a city, receiving municipal corporation status. It increasingly became the yishuv 's economic, financial, political, and cultural center. The Philharmonic Orchestra was founded, the Tel Aviv Museum was opened in the home of the city's long-time mayor, Meir Dizengoff, and the cornerstone was laid for the Habimah building. Tel Aviv severed its last ties with Jaffa. Its growth continued, bringing its population in 1939 to 160,000 inhabitants, who then constituted 35.9 percent of Palestine's total Jewish population.
While World War ii paralyzed building, it stimulated the city's industrial development, as enterprises had to be geared to the production of goods for the Allied war effort. Urban and interurban communications improved with the opening of the Central Bus Station in south Tel Aviv in 1942. In 1943 the Palestine high commissioner issued an order doubling Tel Aviv's municipal area from 630 hectares (1,556 acres) to 1,260 hectares (3,112 acres), whereby both the rest of Jaffa's Jewish quarters in the south and vacant land in the north were included in its boundaries. During the same period, the seat of all the country's Hebrew newspapers and of most of its publishing houses also became the center of the yishuv 's political life and its defense activities. A "civil guard" was established. The anti-Zionist policy of the British authorities was violently opposed. The first "illegal" immigrant ships (Patria, Tiger Hill) anchored off Tel Aviv's shore. The city played a prominent role and suffered much in the struggle with the British authorities after World War ii, when both the *Haganah and the dissident underground organizations (iẒl and Leḥi) had their headquarters there.
When Israel's *War of Independence broke out, Tel Aviv numbered 210,000 inhabitants. While in the first months of the war the city was incessantly shelled from Jaffa's Arab quarters, which interlinked with Tel Aviv's central sections, the situation changed dramatically after the conquest of Jaffa, the flight of the great majority of its Arab inhabitants, and the signing of its capitulation in the Tel Aviv Haganah headquarters on May 13, 1948. One day later the State of Israel was proclaimed in Tel Aviv's museum building.
The city renewed its expansion even before the war ended: on April 24, 1949, Tel Aviv's and Jaffa's areas were amalgamated, and the city's official name became Tel Aviv-Jaffa; one of the world's youngest cities had thus incorporated one of its oldest. Simultaneously, abandoned Arab villages in the east and northeast (Shaikh Muwannis, Jamūsin, Sumail) were also included in the united city's boundaries, whose area thus grew to 4,242.5 hectares (over 10,000 acres). Although the incorporation of Jaffa – with its destitute, empty quarters, dilapidated structures, and winding lanes – demanded great efforts in reconstruction, the new areas added to Tel Aviv opened vistas in rational planning. Building quality improved perceptibly from the 1950s. In that decade the first suburbs north of the Yarkon River came into being (Yad ha-Ma'avir, Ẓahalah, etc.). From the early 1960s, multistoried structures began to go up, particularly in the center of the city. The focus of social and commercial life gradually shifted northward and particularly northeast, from Naḥalat Binyamin Street and Allenby Road to Ben-Yehuda Road, Dizengoff Square, Dizengoff Road, and Ibn Gabirol Road, where the new municipality building was erected. Tel Aviv's waterfront (Ha-Yarkon Street) became, with the construction of large hotels, the country's primary center of tourism.
The flight of most of Jaffa's 100,000 Arab inhabitants (of whom only 4,000 remained in the summer of 1948 – 2,000 of them Muslim Arabs, 1,500 Christians, and the rest Armenians and others) enabled the united city to house, often under difficult conditions, the first great wave of postwar immigration. In the 1950s, 65,000 Jews lived on Jaffa's 6,050 hectares (14,943 acres). A joint body was set up by the government and the municipality in the 1960s to deal with Jaffa's reconstruction. Under its auspices, thousands of families were transferred from its slum quarters to new housing projects; the swampy ground of the Basa and Givat Aliyah quarters was drained; public gardens were planted; and educational, youth, sports, and cultural facilities were installed. The Jaffa Hill ("Ha-Shetaḥ ha-Gadol") was transformed into an attractive tourist, art, and entertainment center, with its ancient structures refitted to house galleries, restaurants, and nightclubs; and a park was planted on the steep hill slope adjoining Jaffa Museum and the churches, mosques, and archaeological excavation grounds of Jaffa Hill.
Among Tel Aviv's ambitious projects begun between 1968 and 1971, the following are outstanding: the "Lamed" project, a housing zone on the poor sandy soil stretching north from the Yarkon River to the outskirts of Herzliyyah; other housing zones in the north, east, and southeast (Tel Kabbir, Givat ha-Temarim, Neveh Afekah, Neveh Sharett); two new industrial zones, one of which, in the north, was reserved for science-based enterprises; and the planting of more parks and recreation grounds, among them one covering 180 hectares (444 acres) in the "Lamed" zone, and another, the Histadrut Park, in the south. Particular attention was paid to easing transportation problems: a huge, seven-story Central Bus Station with 2,691,000 sq. ft. (250,000 sq. m.) of floor space was built in the city's south. An arterial, multilane speed road, called the Netivei Ayyalon (since it makes use of the bed of the Ayyalon) simultaneously serves for rainwater drainage from lowlying areas and thus prevents inundations. Tel Aviv's port was transformed into a recreation and commercial center after the opening of the Ashdod port in 1966.
Over the years, Tel Aviv's population declined due to two main factors: lack of land for new neighborhoods, and the resulting high prices for apartments. In order to solve this problem, the municipality promoted the construction of high-rise apartment buildings, which now dominate the city's skyline.
Tel Aviv-Jaffa in the 21st century continues to maintain its position as the economic and cultural center of Israel. The city's industry moved to other places, but it still serves as a business and commercial center in which economic institutions such as main banking offices and the stock market are located. Each day about a million people work in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. In addition, the majority of foreign embassies are located there. As a cultural center, the city houses four theaters (Habimah, the Cameri, Beit-Lessin, and Gesher); three major museums (Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Eretz Israel Museum, and Beit Hatefusoth) and many small museums and art galleries; the Israel Opera; the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra; and the Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance and Theater. The main newspapers have their main offices in Tel Aviv. The city is also a center for tourism, with 60 hotels and 5,000 rooms.
In July 2003, unesco named Tel Aviv a world heritage site, thanks to the city's unique Bauhaus architecture, which has caused it to be called "the white city."
The Tel Aviv Conurbation
Tel Aviv's municipal boundary, contiguous with satellite towns almost in its entire length, merges with them into a solid built-up area for 7 mi. (12 km.) in the east and even larger distances from north to south. In the east, the satellite chain stretches through Givatayim and Ramat Gan and reaches Petaḥ Tikvah. In the south, the cities of Ḥolon and Bat Yam link up with Jaffa. In the southeast only the fields of the Mikveh Israel farming school form a curtain of green between the mother city and the industrial or semi-industrial centers of Azor, Bet Dagan, etc. In the northeast, Ramat ha-Sharon forms the continuation of Tel Aviv's new suburbs and connects them with the town of Herzliyyah. The communities of Ra'anannah, Hod ha-Sharon, Kefar Sava, Petaḥ Tikvah, Yehud, Or Yehudah, Lydda, Ramleh, Rishon le-Zion, Nes Ẓiyyonah, and Reḥovot form the "outer ring." With the relatively small decrease of the population of Tel Aviv proper in the 1960s, there was a simultaneous rapid expansion of the southern satellites in the same decade (Bat Yam 7% annually, Holon 6.2%), while the growth in the east was more modest (Bene-Berak 4.1%, Givatayim 3.6%, Ramat Gan 2.2%). In 1970 the conurbation contained over 30% – and together with the outer ring over 42% – of the State of Israel's population (not including the regions under Israel administration after June 1967). In 2003, the Tel Aviv conurbation included 1,167,500 inhabitants, consisting of 17.3% of Israel's population.
[Hanna Ram /
Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]
Tel Aviv's mayors:
Meir Dizengoff (1921–1925)
David Bloch (1925–1927)
Meir Dizengoff (1928–1936)
Israel Rokach (1936–1952)
Chaim Levanon (1953–1959)
Mordechai Namir (1959–1969)
Yehoshua Rabinowitz (1969–1974)
Shlomo Lahat (1974–1993)
Ronnie Milo (1993–1998)
Ron Huldai (1998– )
G. Hanoch, Jewish Town Tel Aviv (1932); A.Z. Ben-Ishai, Tel Aviv (Eng., 1936); M. Dizengoff, Tel Aviv and its Development (n.d.); M. Kalir, Tel Aviv-Yafo (1954); Y. Aricha, Tel Aviv – 60 Years (1969); E. Orni and E. Efrat, Geography of Israel (19713), 331–40; A. Druyanow (ed.), Sefer Tel Aviv (1936); A.A. Weis, Reshitah shel Tel Aviv (1957); Z. Vilnay, Tel Aviv-Jaffa … (1965). website: www.tel-aviv.gov.il.