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Notes on the Geography of Israel: Jaffa

Jaffa, now subsumed in Tel Aviv-Yafo, is the old core of the modern city.

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The hazy view from Jaffa west toward Andromeda's Rock. Through the 19th century, this was the very rough port of Palestine, with landings by lighter--and with luggage periodically lost in the brine.

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Old Jaffa seen from a breakwater. The city was compact and originally confined to a small hill rising from the coastal plain. After 1948, the old city was deserted but later transformed into an artist's colony. It's a common practice in Israel, where old Palestinian buildings offer architectural character hard to find in resolutely modern Israeli designs.

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A stairway in the old city. The protruding I-beams are a relic of the British era, when they were introduced along with concrete. Economical for a time, they rust out long before stone buildings fail.

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The stone is brought down from the hills south of Jerusalem.

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In a land without much wood, masons become expert at arches and domes.

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Just inland from Old Jaffa there's a Turkish clock tower much like the one in Akko and the one formerly at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem. The sultan in Istanbul had a thing for clocks, which makes you wonder if he was punctual himself.

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The wave of modernization symbolized so well by clocks shows up in other things, too, like this girls' school in Jaffa. It's just across the street from a French hospital, which, come to think of it, is another expression of the cultural tide.

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Here's the school, no doubt teaching Descartes behind the misleadingly medieval facade.

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On flats surrounding the hill, 20th century Jaffa spreads out monochromatically but with a flood of sunshine.

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With an increasingly prosperous society comes the opportunity to play with style, even if it is only the Lego-look, here just a few blocks from Old Jaffa.

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A different approach: new condominium apartments just south of Old Jaffa and trying to echo local tradition.

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Inside the same development, a bit of old masonry has been drawn into the design, as if to say that there was no break in 1948.

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This office building looks around for something else to echo and settles on the sultan's nearby clock tower.

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On the edge of collapse, old buildings await their conversion into the facades of new buildings.


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