Tour Locations | The Trail of Independence: Tracing the origins of modern Tel Aviv
Stop here, next to the equestrian statue at 16 Rothschild Boulevard.
Look to your right to view the statue and the house behind it.
Here we meet the Sheriff of Tel Aviv. Sort of…
Meir Dizengoff settled in Jaffa around the same time as Akiva Arye Weiss. Interestingly, if you were to ask a local whether they heard of Weiss - the man with the plan, the person who envisioned the establishment of Tel Aviv - you’d probably get a puzzled expression. But every Tel Avivian will know the immediately recognizable name of Dizengoff.
A smart businessman and cunning politician, Meir Dizengoff took the lead from Weiss when construction of the first houses in Tel Aviv began. He served as chairman of the Tel Aviv council, responsible for every public aspect of city life - infrastructure, sanitation, education, welfare and economic development. When Tel Aviv expanded and was recognized as a city, independent of Jaffa, Meir Dizengoff was elected as the first mayor.
As the first mayor of Tel Aviv, Dizengoff seized the opportunity to transform a picturesque suburb of Jaffa into the urban heart of the Zionist endeavour, the financial and cultural arena of the Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel. If we were here at the beginning of the 20th century, we could have seen Dizengoff riding on his horse in the streets of Tel Aviv, making sure everything was going according to plan. In his strolls, he also had a habit of picking up a kid he thought was unhappy and giving him a fun ride. Can you imagine that?
Meir Dizengoff and his wife, Zina, had no kids. He cherished Tel Aviv as if it was his own child. To many, he was the “father of the city”. When he passed away in 1936, he bequeathed his house, right here, on 16 Rothschild Boulevard, to the city. That’s how Dizengoff House became the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
In 1948, the head of the Jewish Agency, David Ben-Gurion, designated as a prime minister to be, chose the Tel Aviv Museum of Art as the place to read out the Declaration of Independence. On May 14th 1948, as the British Mandate was coming to an end, Ben-Gurion stood in the big hall of the museum and declared with his roaring voice: “the establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, to be known as the State of Israel”.
The very place where Tel Aviv started - the house of the first mayor - is exactly the same place where Israel started. The establishment of the city of Tel Aviv and the establishment the state of Israel are two stories intertwined, right here.
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art moved to a different location in the 1970s. Since then, Dizengoff House is a museum for the Israeli Declaration of Independence. Inside is a recreation of the ceremonial hall used by the Founding Fathers of Israel - the Hall of Independence.
When you’re ready, turn left and keep walking up Rothschild Boulevard, along the brass stretch embedded in the pavement. Our next stop is right ahead - that’s the monument for the city founders.