Tourist Tip #215 / The First Kiosk on Rothschild Boulevard

Controversy raged over whether or not to allow any businesses on the Tel Aviv boulevard named for a banker.

Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard may now be lined with restaurants and cafes but when the street was first established, around 1909, just as the settlement of Ahuzat Bayit became the city of Tel Aviv, the idea of a commercial presence was hotly debated among residents.

Starting at Herzl Street to Habima National Theater, the Boulevard, as it was known at the time was purely residential. Nor would it become "Rothschild" until a year later when it was named in honor of Baron Edmond de Rothschild, scion of the Jewish banking family. Homes for the 66 founding families of Tel Aviv spread around it; the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium high school was a few dozen meters away, where the Shalom Tower now stands.

Some of the residents did favor setting up shops in the neighborhood, but others were against the idea of bringing business into the area. Eventually, a small kiosk was opened where Rothschild Boulevard meets Herzl...

...and it's still there. Okay, not exactly. But there is a kiosk in the exact same spot where the original one stood and is modeled after the eclectic architectural style of the time. The original offered soda and snacks and the current one hasn't strayed far from the original concept.

Of course, it has updated itself to fit the tastes of Tel Aviv's residents today: it's now called Espresso Bar and serves up all sorts of coffee drinks, sandwiches and so on. Nor is it cheap, in keeping with the neighborhood – Rothschild has become one of the most expensive streets in Israel, from the perspective of property values. But while the coffee may not be  cheap, it's not a high price to pay for participating in a part of Tel Aviv's earliest history.



 

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