Tel Aviv History
When talking about the history of Tel Aviv one must make a distinction between Tel Aviv and Jaffa, Yafo in Hebrew, though the latter forms part of the Tel Aviv-Jafo municipality.
Tel Aviv, officially founded in 1909, was established north of Jaffa, which has been in existence for 4000 or even 9000 thousand years (!), and is actually universally considered as one of the oldest port cities in the world. Jaffa’s antiquity notwithstanding, Tel Aviv-Yafo celebrated its centenary in 2009, as 1909 is the official birth date of the now joint city.
Jaffa dates back the Bronze Age, but once Tel Aviv (literally: Spring Hill) started gaining ground in the late 1800s, the ancient town could not keep up with the fast growing town.
So how did it all come to be?
The idea behind the creation of Tel Aviv was inspired by Zionist ideology, which had Jews trickling back – then flocking- back – to the homeland they had left 2000 years earlier. The first neighbourhood of what was to become Tel Aviv, Neve Tsedek, was built just before the turn of the 20th century, and marks the beginning of the soon-to-be booming first Hebrew town.
How it all Started
In the early 1900s, large number of Jews arrived in Israel in the framework of what is called the Second Aliya (Jewish immigration). Many of them came to what was then known as Ahuzat Bayit (literally: Homstead) society. Up until then Jews lived in Jaffa, and this was the first attempt to build a Hebrew town.
The gathering of some 60 Jewish families, in what is now Rothschild Boulevard, in order to divide between them the unoccupied sand dunes, marks the city’s official birth.
The Ottoman Empire’s attempts to stifle Ahuzat Bayit by expelling Jews from Palestine ended once Britain took over the mandate in 1918.
The concept was to build a modern Western-style Garden City, with running water in the homes and wide and clean streets, in stark contrast with the crumbling, unsanitary and densely populated Jaffa.
During the Arab riots of 1921, hundreds of Jewish families left the Arab-dominated Jaffa, while Jews from other settlements in British- mandated Palestine came to the coastal town in search of a better life. Tel Aviv became officially a town, independently of Jaffa, in 1922, with a total population of 35,000.