Forget following the yellow brick road to find the wizard, or even lions and tigers and bears. Visitors and residents of Tel Aviv can now follow a golden brick path through the downtown city streets celebrating pioneering spots in the city and state’s history.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai dedicated the path on Monday evening in honor of Israel’s 70th Independence Day, later this week.
The kilometer-long path, which is marked in golden brick and illuminated at night, has 10 stops highlighting places important to the beginning of Tel Aviv and the State of Israel, including Independence Hall where Prime Minister David Ben Gurion signed the Declaration of Independence.
Independence Hall was also the home of the first mayor, Meir Dizengoff, who later turned his home into the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Ben Gurion declared the State of Israel in the museum on May 14, 1948, because it was heavily fortified.
“Not many people can say their country was born in a museum,” Huldai said on Monday, steps away from Independence Hall. “But there’s no better birthplace for a country that’s a living combination of past, present, and future.”
There are explanations about the spots along the Independence Trail in eight languages. Starting in June, visitors will also be able download an interactive app to their smartphone or tablet.
The route begins at the First Kiosk of Tel Aviv at Rothschild and Herzl, and continues along Rothschild past the Nahum Gutman fountain, The Akiva Aryeh Weiss House, The Shalom Meir Tower (former site of the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium), The Great Synagogue, the Haganah Museum, The Bank of Israel’s Visitor Center, The Tel Aviv Founders Monument, the Meir Dizengoff statue and Independence Hall.
The city first met to begin planning the path a year ago, requiring cooperation from city and urban planners, the Tourism Ministry, and the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage. Huldai likened the Independence Trail to historical trails in Philadelphia or Boston’s red-lined Freedom Trail. He noted that Tel Aviv’s start as a small enclave meant that many of the historical sites are clustered together.
“You can meet so much history within a kilometer,” Huldai said. “This city was an experiment. It was one of the most important experiments in the 2,000 history of the Jewish Diaspora; as the first mayor, Meir Dizengoff said, an exercise in Jewish self-government, the first step toward the renewal of Jewish sovereignty in their homeland.”