by Yael Adar
Tel Aviv was designed as a suburban alternative to Jaffa. It was established in 1909, and by 1921, had its own city council. In 1934, it became an independent municipality.
The 1920’s and 1930’s saw uprisings by the Arabs of Jaffa and more and more Jews left it, to the adjacent, developing Tel Aviv. From 1921 to 1925, (which was a banner year for building) Tel Aviv expanded from 2,000 to 34,000 residents.
This was to be a distinctly different place from the crowded commercial center of Jaffa, a place without a manufacturing center, with a European flair. The first buildings were planned as single-family homes and the new residents of Achuzat Bait (the name of the new quarter) wanted to create a planned neighborhood, like those in their European homelands. In 1910, the quarter’s name was changed to Tel Aviv.
However, Tel Aviv was built without an overall plan. It developed according to the needs of the day, which were ever-changing. As more land was purchased, one by one, neighborhoods sprang up.
In 1925, Meir Dizengoff asked Sir Patrick Geddes, a Scottish urban planner, to submit a master plan for Tel Aviv. Geddes’ plan called for the city to be a European Garden City. To this day, as you walk through the city’s smaller streets (as well as some of the major streets) you will encounter greenery around you.
Geddes’ plan, which outlined the development of the northern part of Tel Aviv (since the southern part had already been built-up), was approved in 1929 and influenced the shape of the city, for years to come. However, its implementation never fully materialized – due to a variety of constraints and the growing needs of the time. Later, other plans were implemented.
In 1909, Tel Aviv had just a mere 300 residents and 60 buildings. By the time the British Mandate was at its height, the city had grown enormously and it was home to 150,00 people and 8,000 buildings.
Many of the architects who went abroad to study, came back in the 1930’s, when there were roughly 200 active architects working locally. As Bauhaus architecture developed its own local style, the building surge provided much needed work for many of the newcomers.
While the city’s beginnings are distinctly separate from that of Jaffa, today Tel Aviv-Jaffa is one municipality and although the city evolved as a patchwork of neighborhoods, some of the basic elements outlined in Geddes’ plan are still clearly visible (see Finding Your Way around Tel Aviv).