Sunday 3 January 2010

Blog-log Day 5 - the British High Street legacy in Tel Aviv

So what is the visible and immediate UK legacy here in Tel Aviv?

It feels like an incredibly liberal, vibrant and positive city - many communities, still growing - the nearest thing, bar the climate, to a London-esq sense of village communities.

The amusing thing - and when Herbert Samuel arrived a Governor of Palestine the legacy must have been still very live - is the way the streets are named after British figures: Herbert Samuel, Arthur Balfour, George V and Edmund Allenby.

Happy to be corrected but I reckon most people will be aware that George V was King but little sense of his significance to Israel or Tel Aviv, as previously posted no understanding of who Herbert Samuel was, Edmund Allenby I think has no recognition - being interested in history I knew him to be a soldier and the leader of the middle east campaigns of the first world war but I think I'm in a minority.

Arthur Balfour however, in reversal of his recognition rate in the UK is heralded here as for his Balfour Declaration that led in time to the creation of the modern state of Israel... But Allenby's road/street is the larger, more significant route through the city. :-)

I'm staying on Allenby Street and I have to say it has a quality that is incredibly reminiscent to the Kilburn High Road - that sense of different by day and by night, all traders cheek-by-jowel, an amazing history that is much underplayed (though hinted at a bit) and is a key road through the midst of this whole city - much like the High Road is to north west London.

So in that comparative vein I thought I would draw in my age old tradition of looking at the variety of street signs - there is something incredibly charming and special about street names.

It's as though the way in which a community is signed is an insight into the way in which that community has a self-esteem supported by the governance arrangements that sustain it.

I think Allenby Road has an incredible sweeping effect through this city - one of the guidebooks describes it as 'enigmatic' - for me it the best insight there is into what Tel Aviv is, where it has come from and where it might be going...

All great stuff and there for anyone to see - for me this afternoon in was a great wander, stopping, looking up, taking pictures (too many over the course of just 3 hours!) and gazing at what was hidden, but yet still very visible to the inquisitive eye.

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