Tourist Tip #216 / The Monument to Tel Aviv's Founders

On one of Tel Aviv's poshest boulevards, surrounded by sky-high condominiums and trendy eateries, a small monument commemorates the humble roots of Tel Aviv.

On an April day in 1909, 66 families gathered on a sand dune not far from the Mediterranean Coast and cast lots with seashells to decide who would live where. Such was the founding of Tel Aviv.

The first water well of Ahuzat Bayit (the name of the area before it became Tel Aviv) was drilled here; later a water tower was erected that also served as the first town hall.

A famous black-and-white photo captures this historical moment and, nearly half a century later, a monument was erected to commemorate it. If you live in these parts, you've probably walked by this spot a hundred times, but of course, it looks rather different today.

At the intersection of Rothschild Boulevard and Nahalat Binyamin, a rectangular wading pool with a small, gurgling fountain pays homage to these liquid roots. And right next to it is the Founders' Monument.

The Founders’ Monument was put in place on March 23, 1951. On one side, you can read the names of the 66 families that cast lots and founded Tel Aviv. On the opposing side, a bronze relief by artist Aharon Priver depicts the city's various stages of development.

It's a slice of Tel Aviv that may be overshadowed (literally) by monstrous skyscrapers that are shooting up like weeds or the trendy restaurants cropping up on either side of Rothschild Boulevard's pedestrian walkway. But this is really where Tel Aviv, as we know it today, first got a heartbeat.

And for that matter, the same goes for the country itself: A few feet from the Founder's Monument is Independence Hall, where on May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion declared Israel a state (see Tourist tip #188).

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