IGU Urban Commission, Tel Aviv, 2010

Amiram GONEN

Department of Geography, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem



How Tel Aviv rose to become the leading urban center in Israel

The paper traces the main historical and geographical factors underlying the relatively quick rise of Tel Aviv as the predominant urban center of its country. The initial step was the nesting of Tel Aviv in the already rising of Jaffa as a port of entry for new immigrants and of a port of export for agricultural produce, primarily citrus fruits. The rise of Tel Aviv also benefited from a hinterland of already existing Jewish agricultural settlements. Tel Aviv, originally a Jewish neighborhood in Jaffa, attracted numerous Jewish immigrants and eventually became an independent municipal entity. This municipal Jewish autonomy marked Tel Aviv as “The First Hebrew City,” an attribute attracting additional Jewish immigration as was the contiguity of Jewish urban settlements in its hinterland, offering Jewish residents with a sense of ease and security. Tel Aviv also benefited from the high level of entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of its business community. Moreover, many Jewish national organizations have opted to place their head offices in Tel Aviv, thus adding to its rapid development into the functional hub of the Jewish population in the entire country. Tel Aviv, with the growing congregation in it of prominent high schools, cultural clubs, theaters, a philharmonic orchestra, an opera house and a myriad of coffee houses, soon emerged as the capital of Hebrew culture and entertainment of a modern European-like flare. The leaders of Tel Aviv were consciously pursuing the enhancement of cultural institutions in it, guided by the vision of a large modern city that resembles their cities of origin in Europe. Once Tel Aviv leaped into the role of a major center for the Jewish population economies of aggregation catapulted it into the primate center of the country.


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