French to Help Rehab Historic Haifa Plaza

Carriages from Paris Square would travel east to Nazareth and the Galilee, north to Lebanon or south and Jerusalem.

The municipalities of Haifa and Paris are planning a joint reconstruction program of Paris Square, which served as Haifa's central traffic terminus at the start of the 20th century.

The program will be run jointly between municipal engineers from both cities, and in cooperation with city-owned development company Yefe Nof.

Paris Square was constructed during the Ottoman period and called Carriage Square for the abundance of passenger and cargo carriages parked there. From the terminus, carriages would travel east to Nazareth and the Galilee, north to Lebanon or south to Jaffa and Jerusalem.

The plan will upgrade the square's lighting system, and erect a fountain at the site along with street furniture brought specially from Paris. A station for Metronit, Haifa's new rapid transit bus service, will also be built at the location.

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the importance of Paris Square continued to grow due to its central location in the lower city, for decades a bustling commercial center. In 1959, with the construction of the Carmelit subway, and a stop at the square itself, the plaza was renamed in honor of the City of Lights as a sign of recognition to the French company which built the rail system.

Most stores later left the square for the Hadar and Carmel areas. But after the city's municipal complex recently moved to the site, it seems the Haifa is taking renewed interest in restoring the plaza's former glory. According to Haifa city engineer Ariel Waterman, the new plan will grant priority to public transportation and pedestrian traffic in an effort to restore the square's popularity.

"Cooperation between the Haifa and Paris municipalities in general, and with France itself, has continued for many years," said Mayor Yona Yahav. "The cooperative work between Paris and Haifa in restoring the square is strengthening that tie and bringing a slice of Paris to Haifa," he said.