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The celebration, condemnation and reinterpretation of the Geddes plan, 1925: the dynamic planning history of Tel Aviv

  • NOAH HYSLER RUBIN (a1)
Abstract:

The article presents the short urban history of Tel Aviv as a case-study for critical readings in urban planning. Focusing on Patrick Geddes’ celebrated plan for the city (1925) and its various interpretations along the years, the main claim made in the article is that when present planners are confronted with a past which does not suit current needs, history is contested, or reinvented entirely. The appreciation of Geddes’ plan over the years always reflected the city's contemporary image and its planners’ attitudes, which initially reflected the pioneering spirits of the city's Zionist creation. The plan was later blamed for the city's deterioration; and finally celebrated again, alongside the city's new found architectural heritage and urban spirit.

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1 The International Planning History Society inaugurated in January 1993 and the Society for American City and Regional Planning History was founded in 1986. Both promote scholarship on the planning of cities and metropolitan regions over time, aiming to bridge the gap between study and practice.

2 AESOP 2009 Conference web page (last accessed 15 Mar. 2010) www.liv.ac.uk/aesop2009/theme.htm.

3 Lowenthal, D., The Past Is a Foreign Country (Cambridge, 1985), xvii.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid., 25.

6 Beauregard, R.A., ‘Subversive histories: texts from South Africa’, in Sandercock, L. (ed.), Making the Invisible Visible: A Multicultural Planning History (Berkeley and London, 1998) 184–97; Muller, J., ‘Although God cannot alter the past, historians can: reflections on the writing of planning histories’, Planning History, 21 (2) (1999), 1119; Sandercock, ‘Introduction’, in Sandercock (ed.), Making the Invisible Visible, 2–5.

7 I. Borden, J. Rendell and H. Thomas, ‘Knowing different cities: reflections on recent European writings on cities and planning history’, in Sandercock (ed.), Making the Invisible Visible, 135.

8 Sandercock (ed.), Making the Invisible Visible, 1.

9 Kruckeberg, D., ‘Planning history's mistakes’, Planning Perspectives, 12 (1997) 269–79; Sandercock, L., Cosmopolis II: Mongrel Cities in the 21st Century (London and New York, 2003), 37

10 Krueckeberg, ‘Planning history's mistakes’; Muller, ‘Planning histories’, 11–13.

11 Sandercock, Cosmopolis, 39–40.

12 Lowenthal, Foreign Country, 26.

13 Marom, N., Ir im conceptsia: metachnenim et Tel Aviv (A City with a Concept: Planning Tel Aviv) (Tel Aviv, 2009), 9 (Hebrew).

14 Hysler-Rubin, N., ‘The changing appreciation of Patrick Geddes: a case study in planning history’, Planning Perspectives, 24 (2009), 349–66.

15 Kallus, R., ‘Patrick Geddes and the evolution of a housing type in Tel Aviv’, Planning Perspectives, 12 (1997), 281–30.

16 Shavit, Y. and Biger, G., Ha'historya shel Tel Aviv, vol. I: Leydata shel ir (1909–1936) (The History of Tel Aviv, vol. I: The Birth of a Town (1909–1936)) (Tel Aviv, 2001), 1719.

17 Razi, T., Yaldei hahefker: hechatzer ha'achorit shel Tel Aviv hamandatorit (Forsaken Children: The Backyard of Mandatory Tel Aviv) (Tel Aviv, 2009), 126–7.

18 Weiss, A., Reshita shel Tel Aviv: Yissud ha'ir veyoman (The Beginning of Tel Aviv: City Foundations and a Journal) (Tel Aviv, 1957) pp. 84–5, quoted in Marom, City with a Concept, 12–13.

19 Razi, Forsaken Children, 126–7.

20 Azaryahu, M., Tel Aviv: ha'ir ha'amitit (Tel Aviv: Mythography of a City) (Beer Sheva, 2005), 63; Marom, City with a Concept, 13–15.

21 Ashworth, W., The Genesis of Modern British Town Planning: A Study in Economic and Social History of the Nineteenth Century (London, 1954); Hall, P., Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twentieth Century (Oxford, 1988); idem, ‘The centenary of modern planning’, in Freestone, R. (ed.), Urban Planning in a Changing World: The Twentieth Century Experience (London, 2000), 2039; Meller, H., Patrick Geddes: Social Evolutionist and City Planner (London, 1990); idem, Towns, Plans and Society in Modern Britain, prepared for the Economic History Society (Cambridge, 1997).

22 Ferraro, G., Rieducazione alla Speranza: Patrick Geddes Planner in India, 1914–1924 (Reviving the Hope: Patrick Geddes Planner in India, 1914–1924) (Milan, 1998); Welter, V.M. and Lawson, J. (eds.), The City after Patrick Geddes (Bern, 2000); Welter, V.M., Biopolis: Patrick Geddes and the City of Life (Cambridge, MA, 2002).

23 B. Hyman, ‘British planners in Palestine, 1918–1936’, unpublished University of London Ph.D. thesis, 1994; Hysler-Rubin, N., Patrick Geddes and Town Planning: A Critical View (Abingdon and New York, 2011).

24 Kallus, ‘Housing type in Tel Aviv’, 289.

25 Hyman, ‘British planners’, 199–205.

26 Marom, City with a Concept, 84–6.

27 Kallus, ‘Housing type in Tel Aviv’, 295.

28 P. Geddes, ‘Town planning report – Tel Aviv – Jaffa’ (Tel Aviv, 1925).

29 Geddes, P., The Masque of Learning and its Many Meanings (Edinburgh, 1912); idem, ‘Palestine in renewal’, Contemporary Review, 670 (1921), 481.

30 Geddes, ‘Tel Aviv report’, 58.

31 Hyman, ‘British planners’, 315.

32 Geddes, ‘Tel Aviv report’, 3–7.

33 Hashimshoni, Z., ‘Mishkenot ha'oni beTel Aviv’ (The Tel Aviv slums), Ariel Tel Aviv Usvivoteyha (Ariel Tel Aviv and its Sites), 48–9 (1987), 151.

34 Geddes, ‘Tel Aviv report’, 51–62.

35 Ibid., 56.

36 Ibid., 54.

37 Ibid., 27.

38 Ibid.

39 Kallus, ‘House type in Tel Aviv’, 297–300; Weill-Rochant, K., ‘Myths and buildings of Tel Aviv’, Bulletin du Centre de recherché français de Jerusalem, 12 (2003), 159; Marom, City with a Concept, 89; Biger, G., ‘A Scotsman in the first Hebrew city: Patrick Geddes and the 1926 town plan for Tel Aviv’, Scottish Geographical Magazine, 108 (1992), 7; Hyman, ‘British planners’, 225.

40 Kallus, ‘Housing type in Tel Aviv’, 295–8.

41 Yosskovitz, B., Tichnun vepituach Tel Aviv-Yaffo’ (Planning and development of Tel Aviv – Yaffo), Tichnun Svivati (Environmental Planning), 57 (1999), 60–4.

42 Kallus, ‘Housing type in Tel Aviv’, 314–15.

43 Marom, City with a Concept, 129–30.

44 Kallus, ‘Housing type in Tel Aviv’, 300.

45 Ibid., 314–15.

46 Hashimshoni, ‘The Tel Aviv slums’, 151.

47 Shavit, Y. and Biger, G., Ha'historya shel Tel Aviv, vol. II: Me'ir medina l'ir bemedina (1936–1952) (The History of Tel Aviv, vol. II: From a City-State to a City in a State (1936–1952)) (Tel Aviv, 2007), 139.

48 Marom, City with a Concept, 113–17; Shavit and Biger, City in a State, 166–7.

49 P. Abercrombie, ‘Report on visit to Israel’ (1952), Central Zionist Archives A175/200, quoted in Hyman, ‘British planners’, 225.

50 Hashimshoni, ‘The Tel Aviv slums’, 157–8; Mazor, A., ‘Megamot pituach beTel Aviv’ (Development trends in Tel Aviv), Ariel, 48–9 (1987), 98.

51 Shavit and Biger, City in a State, 160; Marom, City with a Concept, 186–8.

52 Marom, City with a Concept, 95–101.

53 Yosskovitz, ‘Planning and development of Tel Aviv’, 61.

54 Ibid.; Shavit and Biger, City in a State; Mazor, ‘Development trends in Tel Aviv’, 97–103; Marom, City with a Concept.

55 Marom, City with a Concept, 161–74, 186–9.

56 Hashimshoni, ‘The Tel Aviv slums’, 157–8.

57 Mazor, ‘Development trends in Tel Aviv’, 98.

58 Marom, City with a Concept, 260.

59 Shavit and Biger, The Birth of a Town, 33.

60 Kaiser, D.et al., Profil ha'ir: tochmit estrategit leTel Aviv – Yaffo (City Profile: Strategic Plan for Tel Aviv – Yaffo) (Tel Aviv, 2002), 24–5; Marom, City with a Concept, 263.

61 Mazor, ‘Development trends in Tel Aviv’, 99; Shavit and Biger, The Birth of a Town, 33.

62 Vizaltir, M., ‘Yesh li sympatya’ (I have sympathy), in Mashehu optimi, ktivat shirim (Something Optimistic, Writing Poems) (Tel Aviv, 1976), 48.

63 Azaryahu, Mythography of a City, 143.

64 Ibid., 106, 113.

65 See, for example, Landa, M. and Oesemnik, A. (eds.), Our City Tel Aviv (Tel Aviv, 1959) (Hebrew); Vardi, A. (ed.), The City of Wonders (Tel Aviv 1959) (Hebrew); Yaari-Polskin, Y., Meir Dizengoff – His Life and his Deeds (Tel Aviv, 1936) (Hebrew).

66 Dunevitz, N., Holot shehayu lekrach (Sands which Have Turned into a City) (Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, 1959), 83 (Hebrew).

67 Biger, G., ‘Al Patrick Geddes ve'oda lo-noda'at “the Return to Zion”’ (Of Patrick Geddes and an unknown ode to ‘the Return to Zion’), Beeri, 1 (1988), 3544 (Hebrew); Confurius, G., ‘Tel Aviv und die Transportfähigkeit der Moderne’ (Tel Aviv and the transportability of the Modern Movement), Daidalos, 54 (1994), 5261; Kallus, ‘Housing type in Tel Aviv’; Payton, N.I., ‘The machine in the Garden City: Patrick Geddes’ plan for Tel Aviv’, Planning Perspectives, 19 (1995), 359–81; Weill-Rochant, K., ‘Tel Aviv des années trente: béton bland sur la terre promise’, L'architecture d'aujourd'hui, 293 (1994), 41–7; idem, ‘Myths and buildings of Tel Aviv’, Bulletin du Centre de recherché français de Jerusalem, 12 (2003), 152–63.

68 Shavit, G. and Biger, Y., Ha'historya shel Tel Aviv, vol. IV: Ir metropolinit (1974–1993) (The History of Tel Aviv, vol. IV: Metropolitan City (1974–1993) (Tel Aviv, 2002), 111–12.

69 Ibid., 24; Azaryahu, Mythography of a City, 145.

70 Azaryahu, Mythography of a City; Mann, B., A Place in History, Stanford Studies in Jewish History and Culture (Stanford, 2006), xi. This notion of the ‘dark ages’ in the history of the city is also reflected in the most comprehensive chronicles of the city to date supplied by Yaacov Shavit and Gideon Biger, in which the volume intended to cover the years between 1952 and 1974 was never published.

71 Azaryahu, Mythography of a City, 227; Shavit and Biger, The Birth of a City, 45–6.

72 Payton, ‘The machine in the Garden City’, 363.

73 Yosskovitz, ‘Planning and development of Tel Aviv’, 60–4.

74 Ibid., 61–4; Kallus, ‘Housing type in Tel Aviv’, 290, 293; Payton, ‘The machine in the Garden City’, 359.

75 Payton, ‘The machine in the Garden City’, 361.

76 Shavit and Biger, Metropolitan City, 24.

77 Gavrieli, T., ‘Hatochnit ha'estratgit leTel Aviv-Yafo: ekronot, tahalich, matrot tichnun, yissum’ (The strategic plan for Tel Aviv-Jaffa: principles, process, plan targets, implementation), in Kipnis, B.A. (ed.), Tel Aviv-Yafo: me'ir ganim le'ir olam: mea hashanim harishonot (Tel Aviv-Yafo: From a Garden City to a World City. The First One Hundred Years (Tel Aviv, 2008), 447.

78 Shavit and Biger, Metropolitan City, 106–7, 111–12; Hashimshoni, ‘The Tel Aviv slums’, 121–2; Mazor, ‘Development trends in Tel Aviv’, 97–103.

79 Shavit and Biger, Metropolitan City, 99–100, 106–7, 111–12; Mazor, ‘Development trends in Tel Aviv’, 124–6.

80 Shavit and Biger, Metropolitan City, 121–4.

81 Kallus, ‘Housing type in Tel Aviv’, 293–4. This was nevertheless an accepted idea at the time and mirrored Meir Dizengoff's view on the priority Jews gave to industry over recreation and sea bathing.

82 Shavit and Biger, The Birth of a Town, 33.

83 Azaryahu, Mythography of a City, 115.

84 Shavit and Biger, The Birth of a Town, 46; idem, Metropolitan city, 99–100; Azaryahu, Myhography of a City, 115.

85 The intermediacy of development and nostalgia is apparent in the volume of Ariel of 1987 (48–9) dedicated to Tel Aviv, in which great building projects were hailed side by side with nostalgic tales of small-scale, historic sites, all displaying the city merits regardless of their inherent differences. Ariel, 1987; ‘TelAviv bat Shmonim’ (TelAviv at eighty), Et-Mol (Yesterday), 84 (1989), 2.

86 E. Zandberg, ‘Halbinu et Ha'ir HaLevana’ (Bleach the White City), Haaretz (The Country), 14 Feb. 1999, gallery section, quoted in Shavit and Biger, The Birth of a Town, 34.

87 Shavit and Biger, Metropolitan City, 114–15.

88 Kaiser et al., City Profile, 105–6.

89 Levin, M., Ha'ir Halevana – Hasignon habenleumi bearchitectura be'Israel (White City – the International Style in Architecture in Israel) (Tel Aviv, 1994); UNESCO, 2003 27COM 8C.23 – White City of Tel Aviv – the Modern Movement (Israel), Site Declaration (last accessed 15 Mar. 2010) http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/718 quoted in Szmuk, N., Tel Aviv's Modern Movement: The White City of Tel Aviv, A World Heritage Site (Living on the Dunes exhibition catalogue, Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv, 2004).

90 Szmuk, Living on the Dunes, 9; Rotbard, S., Ir Levana – Ir Shchora (White City – Black City) (Tel Aviv, 2005), 2836.

91 Szmuk, Living on the Dunes, 19–20.

92 Ibid., 35.

93 Ibid., 21–2.

94 Kallus, ‘Housing type in Tel Aviv’, 381.

95 Confurius, ‘Tel Aviv and the Modern Movement’, 55.

96 Weill-Rochant, ‘Tel Aviv during the 1930s’, 41.

97 Szmuk, Living on the Dunes, 33–4.

98 Ibid., 13.

99 N. Szmuk, quoted by E. Zandberg, ‘Yesh makom leshimur’ (There is room for conservation), Haaretz, 8 Oct. 2009, gallery section.

100 Berger, T., Dionysus Bacenter (Dionysus in the Center) (Tel Aviv, 1998); Mann, A Place in History; Rotbard, White City – Black City; Rotbard, S. and Zur, M. (eds.), Lo beYafo velo beTel Aviv: Sipurim, Eduyot veteudot meshchunat Shapira (Not in Jaffa and not in Tel Aviv: Stories, Testimonies and Documents from Shapira Neighbourhood) (Tel Aviv, 2009) (Hebrew).

101 Two exceptions should be mentioned: Welter, Biopolis, incorporated Geddes’ work in Tel Aviv in an overall narrative of his work as a spiritual modernist; and LeVine, M., Overthrowing Geography: Jaffa, Tel Aviv, and the Struggle for Palestine, 1880–1948 (Berkeley, 2005), who described Geddes’ work in Tel Aviv as part of the Zionist project of territorialization and land conquest.

102 Krueckeberg, D.A., ‘Between self and culture or what are biographies of planners about?’, Journal of the American Planning Association, 59 (1993), 217–21.

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