Tel Aviv/ Geddes’ plan from an urban scale

When we look at Geddes’ plan for Tel Aviv, we can see urban-scale features in shaping the city by the influence of modern means of transport and the call for efficiency in the 1920s-30s, as well as his ideas that the city should be connected to its own history.

This feature was the grid of streets designed by Geddes: major streets running from south to north, intersected by widely spaced east-west secondary roads, with short, inner, minor streets penetrating the large blocks. These large city blocks are designed for domestic dwellings, including standardized, mostly detached buildings, in each of the block.

In this scale, Geddes put a heavy focus on the connection of the city’s network and its hierarchy of roads, emphasizing on the importance of traffic. Geddes defined zonings in the city and made use of the difference in street widths to define their usages. Major streets (“mainways”) that run along north-south define the urban blocks and allow efficient movements between the city by cars; while narrower east-west “homeways” separates them into individual city blocks. Pedestrian lanes in individual blocks lead to public parks at the core, where communal facilities such as playgrounds were located.

Plan of Tel-Aviv, c. 1926, from Der Städtebau, no. 2, 1929, 49.


We can also see clues of Geddes bringing the new city in connection with the old city of Jaffa, One particular example was the major streets that run from north to south: these streets connected to the road system of the old neighbourhood from the south all the way to the river in the northern part of the city.

With the emphasis of main roads running north-south, the seashore was reserved for polluting industries such as textile production, separating itself from the residential blocks in the inland and only connected by a few green boulevards connecting east-west towards the coastline. It is believed that Geddes planned this based on Jews’ prioritizing industry over recreation, thus the development of shoreline houses and hotels was nowhere to be seen in Tel Aviv until the 1970s.

  1. Kallus, Rachel. “Patrick Geddes and the Evolution of a Housing Type in Tel-Aviv.” Planning Perspectives12, no. 3 (1997): 281-320.
  2. Roṭbard, Sharon, and Orit Gat. White City, Black City : Architecture and War in Tel Aviv and Jaffa. 2015.

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