Early development of Tel Aviv

Title: Plan of “Ahuzat Bayit”

This is a plan of the “Ahuzat Bayit” neighborhood in the year 1909, the major methodology is to build main roads and divide small blocks by smaller streets. The road follows the NW and SE axis for connection between north and south, west coast to inland on the east. The urban scheme of Ahuzat-Bayit consisted of a main north-south bound street (Herzl Street) and several east-west bound streets. One of the east-west bound streets was wider than the rest because of a geological condition. It was a ridge in the middle of the dunes that had to be filled with sand and, as a result of this, engineer Abraham Goldman recommended turning it into a green boulevard (Rothschild Boulevard), as the instability of the ground was too risky for building.

In contrast to those in the first two Jewish neighborhoods north of Jaffa, the single-family houses in Ahuzat-Bayit were arranged as free-standing units with large spaces between them. During the first decade the one-story houses in the new settlement were equipped with slanted roofs and were surrounded with fences consisting of stone posts and metal ornamented grilles. The typical façade for these houses consisted of a front balcony with two systems of steps from both sides. This balcony was fenced by decorative cement balustrades, and it led to the main entrance of the house. Some of the façades were decorated with a variety of decorative elements, such as battlements, keystones, geometric reliefs, or Stars of David.

Rothschild Avenue in Tel Aviv, the view of the City Hall, the first kiosk and the water tower in 1910
water tower, the tallest structure at the time

At the time when buildings and roads were beginning to be built from nothing, structures started to appear on the sand dunes. Residence and avenues for gathering were built one by one. The water tower was the tallest structure in Tel Aviv during the period and it was the citizens’ pride for some time.

Neve Shaanan Street under construction, Tel Aviv, 1920s
Tel Aviv’s first promenade. Next to the ‘Warshavsky Hotel’. 1920s
An electric company worker installs a street lamp opposite the Ginossar Hotel. 1923
Tel Aviv, photographed in 1924.

Hebrew workers were recruited to complete the construction work for the buildings and main roads. The first promenade was paved next to the Warshavsky Hotel and became the main communication method between buildings. Walking was the major transport and street were pretty raw without pedestrians and vegetations. Later in 1923 city facilities began to evolve. Street lamps and electricity network began to emerge into the building communications. The 1924 photo shows the general perspective of the city. The road in the centre of the picture is today Rothschild Boulevard. The water tower on Mazeh Street was still being built, and on the left is the Ahad Ha’am School for Boys at the end of its construction, and it seems to have been adorned with the magnificent ceramic decorations. Motifs are the major Hebrew element Jews in Tel Aviv used to claim their identity on the buildings which were designed under the influence of Bauhaus and International style. Although standing from nowhere, even without historical national building type references, Jews merge the culture aspects into the modernised new city where experiments of ideas could be directly achieved. The open attitude in terms of development and construction became the base environment for Patrick Geddes to later fulfil his plan for the city.


Harpaz, Nathan. “Zionist Architecture and Town Planning in the Early Twentieth Century.” In Zionist Architecture and Town Planning: The Building of Tel Aviv (1919 – 1929), 27-30. Purdue University Press, 2013. http://www.jstor.org.eproxy.lib.hku.hk/stable/j.ctt6wq4fm.7.


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