The Tower’s intrepid photographer gained a new perspective after ascending to the top of the bustling metropolis.
Tel Aviv is an unfinished city, and probably always will be. The bustling metropolis that, like New York, “never sleeps,” is a mosaic of cranes, diggers, and scaffolding as its growth continues unchecked and unhindered by the chaos and upheaval of the Middle East.
Founded in 1909 on a collection of sand dunes, Tel Aviv is named for the “white city” described by Zionist founder Theodore Herzl in his utopian novel Altneuland (“Old-New Land”). Today, it is home to over 400,000 people, and is Israel’s cultural and financial capital. Its propulsive energy and liberal atmosphere are noted worldwide.
Tower magazine photographer Aviram Valdman ventured out into the center of Tel Aviv and caught fleeting images of a city that never stands still. Here are the beginnings of steel and concrete towers, office and residential buildings, museums and marathons, moments of serene nature amidst the headlong rush of the metropolis, and even a lone artist building an intricate sand castle.
Amidst the rising towers of the new city, Valdman also snatched images of “old-new” Tel Aviv—the famed “White City” composed of the largest concentration of Bauhaus architecture anywhere in the world, including Tel Aviv’s own old city hall.
Bauhaus was a design movement that was prominent in Germany in the 1920s and ‘30s. But when the Nazis denounced it as a decadent and corrupted movement, many of its most prominent exponents fled to then-Palestine, where they brought their singular approach to modern architecture with them. In 2003, Tel Aviv’s Bauhaus treasures were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The announcement read in part:
The White City of Tel Aviv is a synthesis of outstanding significance of the various trends of the Modern Movement in architecture and town planning in the early part of the 20th century. Such influences were adapted to the cultural and climatic conditions of the place, as well as being integrated with local traditions.…The new town of Tel Aviv is an outstanding example of new town planning and architecture in the early 20th century, adapted to the requirements of a particular cultural and geographic context.
It is this power of adaptation and innovation that makes Tel Aviv unique, as shown by its mix of quiet nature, furious construction, and once-revolutionary design concepts that are now treasured by the entire world.
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Banner Photo: Aviram Valdman / The Tower