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JaffaStreet

Jaffa Road in the 19th century

Jaffa Road (Hebrew: רחוב יפו‎, Rehov Yaffo, Arabic: شارع يافا‎) is one of the longest and oldest streets in Jerusalem. It crosses the city from east to west, from the Old City walls to downtown Jerusalem, the western portal of Jerusalem and the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. It is lined with shops, businesses and restaurants. Major landmarks along Jaffa Road are Tzahal Square (IDF square), Safra Square (city hall), Zion Square, Davidka Square, the "Triple" intersection (Hameshulash) at King George V Street and Strauss Street, the Ben Yehuda street pedestrian mall, the Mahane Yehuda market, and the Jerusalem Central Bus Station. Jaffa Road is currently being redeveloped as a car-free pedestrian mall served by the Jerusalem Light Rail.

History

Early days

Jaffostreet2006

Early buildings integrated into the modern Jaffa Road (2006).

Originally paved in 1861 as part of the highway to Jaffa, the road quickly became a focal point for the 19th century expansion out of Jerusalem's Old City walls, and early neighbourhoods like the Russian Compound, Nahalat Shiva, and Mahane Yehuda blossomed around it, as well as Shaare Zedek hospital. Proximity to the artery quickly became a measure of real-estate value in the booming city. Traffic originally consisted of camels and mules, and the route was eventually improved enough to allow for horse-drawn carriages. The German Templers, who established the German Colony, first began a regular carriage service along the road to Jaffa.

Under the British Mandate

During the period of the British Mandate, the street was further developed with the establishment of many central institutions including the city hall, the city's central post office, the Anglo-Palestine Bank, and the Generali office building. The buildings on its easternmost end constructed along the Old City walls were destroyed in July 1944 so as not to obscure the city's historic view. During this period the street took on its modern shape, and it became the heart of the city's developing central business district as most commerce left the Old City. During the city's 19-year division between Israel and Jordan after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, which separated the Old City from much of modern Jerusalem, Jaffa Road's primacy as the city-centre was unchallenged.

Commercial decline

Mercaz Clal

Multi-level shopping arcade in Mercaz Clal, a 15-story office tower erected in 1972 at 97 Jaffa Road, near Mahane Yehuda shuk, largely deserted most of the day.

After 1967, as Jerusalem expanded outward, Jaffa Road began to decline as a centre of commerce due to the massive expansion of the city and development of new malls and shopping districts. Nevertheless, most of the city's bus-lines run along Jaffa Road, and the Jerusalem Municipality, Jerusalem's main police station and post office, the Mahane Yehuda marketplace, and other city landmarks are located on this street. Because it remains a bustling thoroughfare, it has been targeted by terrorist groups and some of the most devastating terrorist attacks from the late 1960s onward have been carried out on this street, among them the Zion Square refrigerator bombing [1] and the Sbarro pizza bombing.

Development plans

Rakevet kala

A mural on Jaffa Road - Artist's vision of downtown Jerusalem when the Jerusalem Light Rail becomes operative

For much of its hundred year existence, Jaffa Road has served as Jerusalem's central artery. In recent years, the municipality has responded to problems in the struggling city-centre through focused efforts to redevelop the street; Jaffa Road has been limited to public transit (buses and taxis) in an attempt to divert traffic congestion from the area, and it is the centrepiece of a new development plan for revitalising the downtown. According to the plan, the central portion of the road will be paved with tiles and completely closed to vehicular traffic, and will instead become a pedestrian mall integrated into the existing area at Ben Yehuda street served by the future Jerusalem Light Rail. A tunnel has been constructed under the street at Tzahal Square in 2004 to allow the city's central north-south route to bypass it.[2] In order to accommodate the new system, new utility lines have been laid under one side of the road, which was also widened. 180 properties were evacuated to allow for the road's improvement.

The new arrangement will create an unhindered pedestrian corridor from the narrow alleyways of the Old City to the modern central shopping areas. At its western end, opposite the Central Bus Station, the light-rail will pass over Jaffa Road at the city-entrance via Santiago Calatrava's Chords Bridge, which will also serve as an architectural beacon for the area.[3] When the redesign is complete, the street will become the longest pedestrian mall in Israel at 1.5 kilometres.

References

Jaffa Road history - Jerusalem Municipality website

Coordinates: 31°47′11.19″N 35°12′36.39″E / 31.7864417°N 35.2101083°E / 31.7864417; 35.2101083mk:Улица Јафа yi:יפו גאס

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