Jaffa Road

Jaffa Road

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Jaffa Road 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
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 square), Safra Square
Safra Square
Safra Square is Jerusalem's city hall public square named after Jacob and Esther Safra, parents of Edmond J. Safra, a Jewish philanthropist who contributed generously to the renovation of downtown Jerusalem.-Location:...

 (city hall), Zion Square
Zion Square
Zion Square is a public square at the east end of the Ben Yehuda Street Pedestrian Mall in downtown Jerusalem. It abuts Jaffa Road, Herbert Samuel Street and Yoel Moshe Salomon Street as well....

, Davidka Square
Davidka Square
Davidka Square is a public square at the intersection of Jaffa Road, Street of the Prophets, and Kiach Road in Jerusalem, Israel. Its official name is Kikar Haherut...

, the "Triple" intersection (Hameshulash) at King George V Street and Strauss Street, the Ben Yehuda street
Ben Yehuda Street
Ben Yehuda Street , known as the "Midrachov" is a major street in downtown Jerusalem, Israel. It is now a pedestrian mall and closed to vehicular traffic. The street runs from the intersection of King George Street to Zion Square and Jaffa Road...

 pedestrian mall
Pedestrian mall
Pedestrian malls in the United States are also known as pedestrian streets and are the most common form of pedestrian zone in large cities in the United States. It is a street lined with storefronts and closed off to most automobile traffic...

, the Mahane Yehuda market, and the Jerusalem Central Bus Station
Jerusalem Central Bus Station
The Jerusalem Central Bus Station is the main bus depot in Jerusalem, Israel and one of the busiest bus stations in the country. Located on Jaffa Road near the entrance to the city, it serves Egged, Superbus and Dan intercity bus routes...

. Jaffa Road is currently being redeveloped as a car-free pedestrian mall
Pedestrian mall
Pedestrian malls in the United States are also known as pedestrian streets and are the most common form of pedestrian zone in large cities in the United States. It is a street lined with storefronts and closed off to most automobile traffic...

 served by the Jerusalem Light Rail
Jerusalem Light Rail
The Jerusalem Light Rail is a light rail line, the first of several rapid transit lines planned by Israel for Jerusalem, Israel's capital city. Construction began in 2002 and ended in 2010, when the testing phase began. It was built by the CityPass consortium, which has a 30-year concession to...

.

Early days



Originally paved in 1861 as part of the highway to Jaffa
Jaffa
Jaffa is an ancient port city believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Jaffa was incorporated with Tel Aviv creating the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel. Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical story of the prophet Jonah.-Etymology:...

, 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 carriage
Carriage
A carriage is a wheeled vehicle for people, usually horse-drawn; litters and sedan chairs are excluded, since they are wheelless vehicles. The carriage is especially designed for private passenger use and for comfort or elegance, though some are also used to transport goods. It may be light,...

s. The German Templers
Templers (religious believers)
Templers are members of the Temple Society , a German Protestant sect with roots in the Pietist movement of the Lutheran Church. The Templers were expelled from the church in 1858 because of their millennial beliefs. Their aim was to realize the apocalyptic visions of the prophets of Israel in the...

, who established the German Colony
German Colony of Jerusalem
The German Colony is a neighborhood in Jerusalem, established in the second half of the 19th century by members of the German Temple Society. Today the Moshava, as it is popularly known, is an upscale neighborhood bisected by Emek Refaim Street, an avenue lined with trendy shops, restaurants and...

, 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
Assicurazioni Generali
Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A. is the largest insurance company in Italy and one of the largest in Europe. It has its headquarters in Trieste...

 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
Central business district
A central business district is the commercial and often geographic heart of a city. In North America this part of a city is commonly referred to as "downtown" or "city center"...

 as most commerce left the Old City. During the city's 19-year division between Israel and Jordan after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

, which separated the Old City from much of modern Jerusalem, Jaffa Road's primacy as the city-centre was unchallenged.

Commercial decline



After 1967, as Jerusalem expanded outward, Jaffa Road began to decline as a centre of commerce
Urban decay
Urban decay is the process whereby a previously functioning city, or part of a city, falls into disrepair and decrepitude...

 due to the massive expansion of the city
Suburbanization
Suburbanization a term used to describe the growth of areas on the fringes of major cities. It is one of the many causes of the increase in urban sprawl. Many residents of metropolitan regions work within the central urban area, choosing instead to live in satellite communities called suburbs...

 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 Market
Mahane Yehuda Market
Mahane Yehuda Market , often referred to as "The Shuk", is an outdoor marketplace in Jerusalem, Israel. Popular with locals and tourists alike, the market's more than 250 vendors sell fresh fruits and vegetables; baked goods; fish, meat and cheeses; nuts, seeds, and spices; wines and liquors;...

, 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
Zion Square refrigerator bombing
The Zion Square refrigerator bombing was a terrorist attack in downtown Jerusalem, Israel on Friday, July 4, 1975 in which 15 civilians were killed and 77 wounded.-The attack:...

  and the Sbarro pizza bombing.

Development plans



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
Traffic congestion
Traffic congestion is a condition on road networks that occurs as use increases, and is characterized by slower speeds, longer trip times, and increased vehicular queueing. The most common example is the physical use of roads by vehicles. When traffic demand is great enough that the interaction...

 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
Pedestrian mall
Pedestrian malls in the United States are also known as pedestrian streets and are the most common form of pedestrian zone in large cities in the United States. It is a street lined with storefronts and closed off to most automobile traffic...

 integrated into the existing area at Ben Yehuda street
Ben Yehuda Street
Ben Yehuda Street , known as the "Midrachov" is a major street in downtown Jerusalem, Israel. It is now a pedestrian mall and closed to vehicular traffic. The street runs from the intersection of King George Street to Zion Square and Jaffa Road...

 served by the Jerusalem Light Rail
Jerusalem Light Rail
The Jerusalem Light Rail is a light rail line, the first of several rapid transit lines planned by Israel for Jerusalem, Israel's capital city. Construction began in 2002 and ended in 2010, when the testing phase began. It was built by the CityPass consortium, which has a 30-year concession to...

 slated to begin service in August 2011. A tunnel was excavated under the street at Tzahal Square in 2004 to allow the city's central north-south route
Highway 60 (Israel)
Highway 60 is a north-south intercity road in Israel and the West Bank that stretches from Beersheba to Nazareth.-Route:The route is also known as the "Route of the Patriarchs" since it follows the path of the ancient highway that runs along the length of the central watershed, and which...

 to bypass it.
In order to accommodate the new system, new utility lines were 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
Jerusalem Central Bus Station
The Jerusalem Central Bus Station is the main bus depot in Jerusalem, Israel and one of the busiest bus stations in the country. Located on Jaffa Road near the entrance to the city, it serves Egged, Superbus and Dan intercity bus routes...

, the light-rail will pass over Jaffa Road at the city-entrance via Santiago Calatrava
Santiago Calatrava
Santiago Calatrava Valls is a Spanish architect, sculptor and structural engineer whose principal office is in Zürich, Switzerland. Classed now among the elite designers of the world, he has offices in Zürich, Paris, Valencia, and New York City....

's Chords Bridge
Chords Bridge
The Jerusalem Chords Bridge or Jerusalem Bridge of Strings , also called the Jerusalem Light Rail Bridge is a cantilever spar cable-stayed bridge at the entrance to the city of Jerusalem, Israel designed by the Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava. The bridge is used by Jerusalem Light...

, which will also serve as an architectural beacon for the area. When the redesign is complete, the street will become the longest pedestrian mall in Israel at 1.5 kilometres.

External links



Jaffa Road history on the Jerusalem Municipality website