Tour Locations | The White City

  • LOCATION 4 | The White City

    Ohel Theatre

    Ohel Theatre on Tel Aviv audio tour The White City

    Stop next to the circular kiosk and look across the road to your right.

    You're looking at the facade of Ohel Theatre.

    Notice how the building is mimicking the curves which we just saw in Dizengoff Square, and how the street curves along with the building. Ohel Theatre is another excellent example of the beauty and simplicity of the White City of Tel Aviv. The building is to be appreciated not only by its form but also by its function. It was the first proletarian theatre in the Land of Israel, founded in 1925 by workers and for workers.

    The name “Ohel” means tent in Hebrew - quite appropriate, since most Jewish workers who came to Tel Aviv in the 1920s had no money and no permanent residence. Tents were put up on the vast sand dunes on top of which the White City was to be constructed. The Histadrut - the major workers union, that still exists today - helped finance this cultural establishment for the workers’ enjoyment.

    Tel Aviv became the heart of cultural life in pre-state Israel and continues to this day to be an important cultural center, both nationally and internationally. But one aspect of culture has seen a major decline in recent decades - motion pictures.

    If you turn your back to Ohel Theatre, you’ll see an elegant four-storey high residential building of no importance.

    Here stood one of the most advanced movie theatres in Tel Aviv, that was called, a bit unimaginatively, Tel Aviv Cinema.

    Tel Aviv Cinema was constructed in 1957 by the Hollywood company, 20th Century Fox. It was designed in American standards, with two thousand cushioned seats. At that time, movie theatres in Tel Aviv only had wooden seats. Another advantage of Tel Aviv Cinema was its American patron, that provided premiers of top-notch Hollywood spectacles. It stood in stark contrast to its neighbour from the other side of the road - shiny capitalism facing the high art of the workers class.

    Tel Aviv Cinema was shut down in the 1990s, along with dozens of movie theatres that operated in the city through the years. Only one commercial movie theatre still operates in the city that was the Mecca of Israeli movie-goers.

    Ok, let's keep moving.

    When you’re ready, turn so the Ohel Theatre is on your right. Then cross the roads ahead using the pedestrian crossings to continue walking on the left side of Beilinson street. I’ll meet you at the next intersection.

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