On April 11 5669 (1909) 66 families convened on a sand dune and decided to establish a new city in the Land of Israel, a city they named Tel Aviv. Initially its first neighborhood was called Ahuzat Bayit [homestead] and its members - Dizengoff, Shenkin, Bugrashov, Gutman, Shlush, Abulafia, Hassin Akiva, Arye Weiss, and others – conducted a lottery, using seashells, to dividing up the sandy parcels of land by the seaside. In the 1920s Ahuzat Bayit began to spread toward Rothschild Blvd., and most buildings from that period were built in an eclectic fashion – a mishmash of eastern and European styles.
A great change was brought to the local architecture during the 1930s due to a German architectural school calledBauhaus (German: house of construction). Some of the students who returned to the pre-state city built about 4,000 buildings, from 1931 to 1956, in this international style and this, in time became a nature reserve for Bauhaus architecture.
Bauhaus buildings can be easily identified – they are usually square, but basic geometric shapes, for example, rounded balconies and long narrow windows are incorporated into their facades in a splendor of different shapes. Most buildings are characteristically asymmetric with elements taken from the world of shipping and machinery, with an abundance of windows and rounded facades.
In time the architects of the White City – Zeev Rechter, Arieh Sharon, Dov Karmi, Genia Awerbuch –developed a unique Tel Avivian style which stemmed, amongst other things, from climate differences between Germany and the Holy Land: they significantly enlarged the windows and placed awnings above them, they used the wind directions to plan naturally aired buildings, erected pergolas on top of roofs to create places for people to meet and even to sleep during the hot summer nights, and above all, they furnished their buildings with spacious balconies that became a typical feature of the city and a haven for the typical perspiring Tel Avivian. The balconies were also a sort of social statement, signaling the openness of the community and the connection between its members.
The tour route
We will embark on our tour at the beginning of Rothschild Blvd. - on the western side. This is where Tel Aviv came into being – the Ahuzat Bayit neighborhood. While taking a leisurely walk, note the house numbers and remember that there is a story behind each one of them. In the following passages we describe each house, and the street number of each house appears in the text in the bold square brackets.
Starting at the beginning of Rothschild Blvd. to the corner of Shadal St.: The tour along Rothschild Blvd. readily demonstrates the changes in the architectural perceptions which occurred over the years. The first private buildings in the young city were private homes, built with tile roofs. They had an option for adding a second floor, and a small garden; these houses were inspired by the Russian dachas. Today there is almost no trace of these houses left as evidence from that period, except for a few examples such as the house of the first postman in Tel Aviv, Avraham Fogel, whose murder in 1936 remains unresolved to this day, although the emblem of the IZL (the National Military Organization) was painted on its wall in the days of the British mandate. Opposite building No. 18 you will notice the Founders Monument that was erected as a tribute to the 66 founders of the city on top of what was then the Community Council House and the first well.
Opposite the monument stands the house of Zina and Meir Dizengoff that was built in 1910. With the death of Zina, in 1930, Dizengoff sought to convert the family house into a museum and thus he fulfilled an old dream: to provide a place for the artists of the city. After that he continued to live there, in his private room, until his death half a year after the inauguration of the museum.
On May 15, 1948 the house was chosen to host the ceremony for the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel, and today it serves as an historical museum for that declaration and is called the Hall of Independence. It features a journey starting with Herzl, through the establishment of Tel Aviv and Dizengoff's contribution, ending with the Hall of the Declaration of Independence, with a full restoration of the stirring announcement in Ben Gurion’s, the first prime minister of the country, voice. Sharing the same roof, the Bible Museum is also located in the Independence Hall, with its hundreds of paintings, pictures, statues, and models all of which tell stories of the Bible and its heroes through displays, activities, and pedagogical tools which have been specially adjusted to each age-group. It is warmly recommended for individual visitors to coordinate a tour with a guided group ahead of time. Tel. 03-5173942.
The next place we will visit is Herzl St. which borders on the Ahuzat Binyamin neighborhood.
Moshe Sharett (Shertok), who later served as prime minister lived in this house with his family. Ada Shertok married Eliyahu Golomb, the commander of the Haganah, the underground military organization. Golomb’s house served as the center for top leaders in the organization and with time it was adapted as the Haganah Museum and featured the development of an organization that later shaped the foundations for the IDF.
The further we walk eastward up the street, the greater the architectural change of style is and the tile-roofed houses give way to Art Noveau buildings. Typically decorated with relief work, arches and other ornamented elements, these houses were built by Fourth Aliya immigrants [an immigration wave between 1920 – 1940], and were mockingly called by snobs of the Fifth Aliya eclectic style buildings, namely a mishmash of low quality designs. Despite the scorn with which they were received, today many of these masonries are considered beautiful and attractive, to the extent that quite a good number of them have been restored. Lederberg House on the Allenby-Rothschild corner is a beautiful reconstructed Art Noveau house, as is the adjacent Moyel House.
On the corner of Rothschild Blvd. and Shadal Street stands the impressive Russian Embassy House which is lavishly decorated with ornamentations and emblems in Romantic Era style with a pagoda-like façade. It was planned in 1924 by the architect Yehuda Megidovitz for the affluent Levin family. With time it changed hands and after the establishment of the country it served as the USSR embassy in Israel. When the embassy relocated to Ramat Gan, the house was abandoned and it was not until 1991 that the structure was nominated for heritage conservation.
 Samuelson House1932 – This three-story office building was originally a residential building. Built in the cubistic style, the wide balconies of the house hover over the boulevard, its rounded façade faces Nahmani St.
 Krieger House, 1934 – is a three-story residential building. It is built with clean and restrained lines, its most eminent element being the dented balconies which create a light-and-shadow effect that stems from the balance between their openings and wall. The surface of the white plastered façade protrudes somewhat while its long narrow openings address Le Corbusier’s horizontal ribbon window.
 Rubinsky House, 1933 – is another abode with horizontal lines that flow toward the window of the perpendicular stairwell. Its two facades are dotted with an array of balconies and windows. Another element that gives emphasis to its horizontal line is the sunshade and the differences in the hues of the plaster that vary at each story. Situated on a corner the house’ design is interrelated to the two intersecting streets by its eminent corner elements, such as a triangular shaped sunroof. Needless to say, its intensive unauthentic tints are foreign to the White City, but they also give emphasis to the architectural layout of the building.
 Engel House, 1933 – a large residential building that has become one of the symbols and standards of modern architecture. The roof housed a gym and roof garden. This was the first house in the city to be built on pillars; it took a persistent debate with the municipality to affirm the building. Engel House was built in a U-shape around an inner courtyard, its opening facing Maza St. Imagine its two facades when they still were all-clean and white-washed, and the light-shadow interplay that was created by the intersections of the balconies. Floating on top of the flat roof, a concrete pergola emphasized the role that the roofs played as a meeting place for tenants. Its architect, Zeev Rechter, rented a spacious flat in the building and among the neighbors were the Shamir brothers, the founders of graphic design in Israel, and Lady Edis De Philippe, the founder of the Tel Aviv Opera. During the Second World War the open floor of pillars served as a British command center.
 The Berlin Family House– 1929, was the private abode of the architect Yoseph Berlin and his wife, the artist and sculptor, Shoshana. Yoseph Berlin immigrated to the Land of Israel in 1921 and together with the architect Pasovsky established the Association of Engineers and Architects and was one of the first to apply the international style of architecture in Tel Aviv. Built from bare silicate bricks to establish a decorative motif, the surface of the building is an impressive game of light-and-shade created by its triangle outcroppings.
Those of you who have the time take a short detour and take a short walk through Balfour, Ehad HaAm, Maze, Ein Vered, and Meltchet streets with their host of buildings from that period; however, in order not to prolong the route, we shall follow the itinerary via Rothschild Blvd.
[89 – 91] The Itzhaki House or the Twin Houses – 1935, is a dyad of residential buildings which are a mirror-image of each other with a garden in-between them. The balconies in the front section are angular and enveloped in shadow while their counterpoints on the rear side are rounded and lighter. This dyad establishes an extraordinary unit which stands out from the neighboring houses.
 Turn to look at the balcony across the street and you’ll notice a statue of three standing figures, two women and a man, books in their hands, their mouths open as if they were chanting or telling a story. They are the work of the sculptor Ofra Zimbalista. In Engel St. turn right and walk down the pedestrian mall with its playgrounds and sitting areas, a municipality development effort to invigorate downtown Tel Aviv.
Ripstein & Co. House – 1934 was built as a residential and commercial building with clean-cut cubical contours. Its ground floor was designated for commercial use and apartments were made in its upper stories. Its plain façade preserves the restrained look of the building, while its horizontal line is emphasized by windows and their inline continuous plaster lines. The balcony banisters were made with metal pipes and minimal decorations. The perpendicular effect of the house is induced by the stairwell windows. The original plan included a cornered rest room on the roof but that never came into effect. Yehuda Megdovitz was the first town planner of Tel Aviv.
The Goldenberg, Rose, Birak Housewas designed with two symmetrical facades and typically is emphasized by a perpendicular stairwell and a layout of protruding balconies. Through the use of different hues, the building’s restoration gives eminence to its facades and the minor banister elements which are repeated in the pattern of the yard fence.
 The Rapoport House– 1934 is a residential building with an elegant and unique stairwell built out of concrete plaques, and awnings and balconies with prominent awnings. The length of the floating horizontal beam on the roof fits-in with that of the balcony below. Israel Rokach, the third mayor of Tel Aviv and his beautiful wife, Esther, used to reside on the second floor.
 Aharonovitch House– 1933 used for residential purposes and was designed in the shape of cubical blocs which were arranged around an inner open patio. The rounded corners of the blocks contribute to the continuous flow of the building’s façade that faces Bar Ilan St. Built on top of a hill, the location was called "the Riders' Hill". Once the area was occupied by horse stables, which were managed by a retired police officer. Horse riding was then a highly desired recreational activity reserved only for those with the necessary means or with an eagerness to volunteer to tend to the horses.
 Hachami House– 1933 is a residential building with a single wide façade. Its protruding mass unites all of the stories of the building. One balcony per each story cuts across the width of the façade, creating horizontal divisions and preventing the sunshine from penetrating the building rooms. The house was built for David Hachami, founder of the “Israeli Phoenix” insurance company.
 Kiryati House– 1937 is a residential building, which stands out for its restrained style. Its facade bears only windows, no balconies. Shmuel Mestechkin, the principle architect of the Hashomer-Hatsair-Kibbutzim Technical Division and head of the Architects' Association of Israel was active until his last day in this faculty and lived in the building which was first planned for his brother. Mestechkin loved to tell about his 1931 admission test for the School of Bauhaus: the task he received was to turn a plain piece of material into a useful object. What did he do? He braided a rope from it with which he would have hanged himself had he not been admitted.
And finally, it is warmly recommended to cross the Habima Square and pause for a refreshing rest in “Gan Yaacov”. The architect, Yaacov Rechter, connected three cultural hubs – the Mann Auditorium, the Habima National Theatre, and the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art – with a patio garden of sycamore trees.
The Association for Tourism in Tel Aviv-Jaffa organizes guided tours of the Bauhaus sites and many other routes. Call 03-5166188. Internet site: http://www.visit-tlv.com/?CategoryID=199