Tel Aviv, History, Town Planning
Tel Aviv — a reflection of the liberal and progressive values of Odessa
Jaffa, History, Neve Zedek
Jewish expansion and growth in Jaffa—1870-1915
Tel Aviv, history

Arab Riots 1921

The Development of Tel Aviv during the Third and Fourth Aliyot

The expansion of Tel Aviv began in the second half of 1920. By that time, the Turks had lost their control of the land to the British, and the tens of thousands of Jews who had been expelled from the Yishuv during the First World War could return. In addition, the damages of the war had been repaired and new plans for construction existed. At the beginning of 1921, land registry offices were reopened, and it was possible to sell and buy land again. Registration of ownership could be done officially and authentically, and not like in the time of the Ottoman rule, i.e., when a whole neighborhood had to be registered in the name of an Ottoman citizen. On lands that had undergone parcellation before the war, construction began as early as 1920. In that year, 12 houses were built.

The Jaffa Riots: The Spark the Ignited the Expansion of Tel Aviv

The Jaffa Riots, which lasted for one week in May 1921, began in Jaffa and spread to other parts of the British Mandate of Eretz Yisrael. Arabs rioted violently against Jews, killing 43 and wounding 146. The lesson of the riots was clear: Jews who had had close ties with Arabs in Jaffa realized that those days were over, and that their lives and property were now in danger.  The murder of Jaffa Jews in these violent attacks left a dark cloud and many Jews opted to leave Jaffa.  At the initiative of Haim Bograshov, one of the founders and later the principal of Herzliya Gymnasium,  a new neighborhood, Nordia, was established to absorb these new residents. The first Jewish neighborhoods outside the walls of Jaffa (such as Neve Tzedek and Neve Shalom) also now sought to be part of Tel Aviv. In 1922, with the addition of these neighborhoods, Tel Aviv continued to expand.  

Tel Aviv changed overnight.  Following the tragic events of 1921, new immigrants preferred to build their homes in Tel Aviv. Not all businesses relocated from Jaffa to Tel Aviv because Jaffa still had a significant Jewish population, but there is no doubt that Jaffa had lost its popularity with the Jewish population.

Although most of the trade was still in Jaffa, the riots certainly encouraged some separation. A group of merchants decided to establish an independent commercial center south of the railroad, on land purchased by the Geula Company before the war. From that period onward, most of Tel Aviv’s commercial activities inside the city and vis a vis coastal plain and the Sharon area were conducted in the southern part of the city, in the new commercial center area and north of that, where the first streets of Ahuzat Bayit had been originally built.

From the beginning, the founders envisioned Tel Aviv reaching the sea. Even before the First World War, land was purchased north of Ahuzat Bayit, along what is today known as Allenby Street, which leads down to the sea. The Jewish neighborhoods that were built near the seashore prevented the northward expansion of the Arab neighborhood of Manshiya. The size of the land owned by the Jews grew with the purchase of more lands for the Geula neighborhood. After expanding west to the sea, the city began to spread north.

In the years 1923-1924, less immigrants came to Tel Aviv, and purchased plots remained empty. Only another 300 dunams were purchased during this time, 10% of which were orchards in the south. From then on, Tel Aviv spread north and even put down a stake near the Yarkon River with the purchase of the Alonzi vineyard, which later became municipality land (Agrippa Street near Hill Square). In the center, an area connecting Maza and Balfour streets to Allenby Street was purchased, as well as an area near the railroad. In these years, approximately 900 new houses were built.

1925 signaled the peak of the Fourth Aliyah. During this wave of immigration, about 10,000 immigrants arrived in Tel Aviv, another 900 houses were built, and the city’s population doubled and reached 34,000.  This was the end of the garden neighborhood that was once Tel Aviv. The city grew higher; new buildings were more than one story high and older buildings had a floor added. The commercial district in the south — Herzl, Nahalat Binyamin and Allenby streets – featured a concentration of retail and wholesale stores, banks and insurance companies. This commercial center spread northward as trade grew with other towns and moshavim, and this ‘’city’’ became the main business area of the region. In the former nucleus of Tel Aviv, Ahuzat Bayit, more and more residential homes and apartments were transformed into offices and office buildings. Large clothing companies set up stores in this area, as well as restaurants and cafes.

With the Fourth Aliyah, Tel Aviv metamorphosed into an actual city.  Branded “the first Hebrew city” its popularity and size grew. Meanwhile, the connection with Jaffa was severed. From 1921 onward, Tel Aviv was an independent urban entity in theory, but from a municipal point of view, it has not yet completely separated from Jaffa; this would happen only later, in 1934.  In the future, Tel Aviv and Jaffa would be two separate cities, one Jewish and one Arab.

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