From British Battles To Bauhaus, Touring A Century’s Stunning Tel Aviv Architecture
On a walk through 100 years of development in the White City, track Allenby’s arrival in 1917, visit Hill’s Hill, and see stilts, ‘sliks,’ turrets and portholes.
On the night of December 20, 1917, British forces crossed the Yarkon River and conquered Tel Aviv from the ruling Turks. It hadn’t been easy: at the time the Yarkon was much wider than it is today and boasted a far stronger flow.
British General Edmund Allenby, who had already seized Beersheba, Jerusalem and Jaffa, thought he needed expert help with the crossing. So he brought in General John Hill, just back from India and an expert in the field. Under General Hill’s command the army got as far as Sarona, home to a colony of German Templers.
The British tossed the Germans out of their homes, then collected blankets and wine barrels from the empty houses and used them to construct makeshift rafts.
Finally, in the dark and despite a raging storm, British troops crossed the Yarkon River. Bayonets in their hands, they fought fiercely with the Turks in face to face battles. And they won, of course, pushing the Turks farther north: by year’s end, the British controlled the entire country.
The spot where the British crossed the river is only one of a dozen hidden “corners” and stunning buildings off Tel Aviv’s beaten track south of the Yarkon. Those we present here begin across the road from 90 Ussishkin Street, where the Brits crossed onto the banks, move onto Shimon Hatarsi, and eventually end on Ben Gurion Road.
Farthest north is a charming little park that stands, complete with waterfall, palms and bluish acacia trees, on Givat Hill (translated as “Hill Hill”). It is topped by a marble pillar that probably decorated either Caesarea or Apollonia and that was brought here by General Hill to mark his conquest of Tel Aviv.
A bit farther south another park has an interesting history. Until 1931, animals were butchered at an abattoir on the shores of Jaffa Port and the meat was brought to Tel Aviv by mule. There was no cold storage, of course, and this was all highly unhygienic. But after Arabs rioted in Jaffa in 1929, and many of that city’s Jews moved to Tel Aviv, the British authorities finally agreed to license a slaughterhouse right here, in the north of the new Hebrew city.