Tour Locations | The Electrifying Story of Gan HaHashmal and Its Architecture
You should be standing on the corner at the intersection of Mikve Israel and Leveontin streets. Across the road from you is a large curvaceous building called Jacobson's Building, with the name proudly written on the top.
My name is Tomer Chelouche and I'll be taking you around the Gan Hahashmal neighbourhood today.
I've been leading tours in Tel Aviv since 2008. I started out of fascination with the story of my family - one of the founding families of this city. Unfortunately, my ancestors didn't leave me anything, so I guide tours instead of living off real estate. Regardless, I'm quite happy with this situation. I love to tell stories about Tel Aviv and I hope you'll enjoy hearing them today.
Our tour today of Gan Hahashmal neighbourhood is a short one - less than one hour - but it is quite unique. This neighborhood is very small but it has many layers of history. Don't worry - as I usually say, it's a historical tour, but it's not a history lesson. There's no test at the end of it, so just enjoy. As we walk around I'll tell you what you're looking at and why it's intriguing.
Before we get going, let's spend a few moments here in front of Jacobson's Building.
Take a good look at it.
Jacobson's Building was built in the 1930’s, a time when the businesses of one Zalman Jacobson, an enthusiastic Zionist and businessman, were flourishing. With enough money in his pockets he was able to purchase a large plot of land, upon which he built a large building that included apartments, offices, and shops. The building was designed in the International Style, popularly known as Bauhaus. That's the name of the German design school in which the architectural style was developed. It is characterized by simplicity, that is, it includes no decorations, sculptures or designed moldings. Its aesthetics consist of clean lines and an asymmetrical shape.
The architects who designed buildings in the International Style planned their buildings to be functional – “a machine to live in”. The windows along the staircase were designed to provide natural light and ventilation. The long balconies were planned such that they would be shaded throughout the entire day. In 1930’s Tel Aviv – a Mediterranean city with no air conditioners – the functionality of the International Style was very appropriate.
In 2003, UNESCO – the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – designated the White City of Tel Aviv as a World Heritage Site. It is one of the largest and most diverse collections of International Style buildings that is still preserved to this day. Unlike European cities, that adopted the International Style only at a later phase of their development, Tel Aviv is such a young city that the nucleus of the city was built when the International Style was on the rise.
So, let's get going.
Turn your back to Jacobson's Building and start walking away from it on Levontin street.
While you walk, I'll briefly explain how VoiceMap works.
It uses your location to play audio automatically at the right time and place. This means you can put your phone away now. Don't worry if I'm silent for a while, when I'm not giving directions or telling stories. There's a map on your screen if you ever feel lost, and if you do get way off track without noticing, VoiceMap will let you know.
Continue along Levontin Street.