On The East-west Shadowline: Jerusalem’s Municipal Complex
From Safra Square to Paratroopers Road, the area is an open book whose pages reveal fascinating phases in the city’s modern history
Very little of Jerusalem’s municipal complex is meant to be symbolic. Even the palm trees that grace Safra Square at the entrance to the complex simply provide a tranquil buffer between the noisy main street on which it’s located and the quieter plaza. What isn’t coincidence, however, is City Hall’s location. Situated directly on the seam that once divided Jerusalem, the entire complex is equally accessible to residents of both the eastern and western parts of the city.
Ideas for a municipal center in which offices would be concentrated together began to appear in the 1950’s but never came to fruition. One proposal that popped up over the years included a horrendous suggestion for a 23-story building. Fortunately, by the time the project was ready to get off the ground, historical preservation had come into fashion. As a result, 10 of the eleven early 20th century buildings constructed around the present site were lovingly restored for municipal use.
From Safra Square, named for its generous benefactor, all the way to Paratroopers Road across from the Old City Walls, the municipal complex is an open book whose pages reveal fascinating phases in the city’s modern history. Daniel Park, for instance, is located right next to the plaza. Named for Daniel Auster, who served as Jerusalem’s first Jewish mayor after the establishment of the State of Israel, it is more commonly known as Gan Ha’ir (City Park) and was far larger when established in 1892 than it is today.