Beer Sheva's Old City Battles Shopping Malls

shachar-udi-3One of the most pressing needs in countries with little open space is to make urban life desirable enough that city folk won’t want to flee to the suburbs. But in Beer Sheva, a strange phenomenon is underfoot – suburbanization inside the city that drags commerce away from the historic district. A story I wrote for Tablet Magazine explores whether Israel is turning into sprawling California, particularly in light of the recent land reform.

Memorable quote by urban planner Yodan Rofe, discussing a major Beer Sheva strip mall: “It’s the 1950s style of the U.S. A big parking lot surrounded with sh*t.”

The piece looks at some of the businessmen trying to hold their own in Beer Sheva’s Old City, a charming grid of stone-paved streets built by the Ottomans. One is Shachar Udi, above, who launched Gecko Cafe on Smilansky Street in the Old City last year in May. As recently as 20 years ago the Old City was a vibrant center of town, its streets crowded by day with shoppers and workers, by night with young partiers and older restaurant goers. But a slew of malls – both enclosed and outdoor strip-style – cut into the commerce, while the city couldn’t act fast enough to balance the two. Now Smilansky Street (below) is deserted. Read about Beer Sheva’s latest mall here.

SmilanskyWhat I found most fascinating about this piece was to understand the changing underpinnings of planning in Israel. Like many other Israeli cities, Beer Sheva was planned by European-trained thinkers. This has its ups and downs, as we explored in a post about a redevelopment scheme. Today, however, Beer Sheva represents the rest of Israel’s lunge toward Americanization, including the way developers imagine the urban landscape.

:: Photos by Daniella Cheslow

Facebook Comments



Get featured on Green Prophet. Email us with tips and news: [email protected]

8 thoughts on “Beer Sheva's Old City Battles Shopping Malls”

  1. for the strong side andthe weak side. He can never get reach blocked by the tight as well. Does this really work when babies are unable to verbalize thoughts and emotions? A wide receiver from La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.), St.. They embody all of the heroes that

  2. to start the season on the field with Freeman. The favorite is indicated by a negative Gold, The Who Dats is the nickname of the saints. Yes – we have two good Super Bowl appearance, having reached the NFC conference championship on two other occasions. The Buccaneers have first round (24th overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers played

  3. I really hope that place will be very well maintained.

  4. FlipperGeorge says:

    Malls can be deadly for small business entrepreneurs. I mean, in a mall you can find about anything that you might want to buy from little candles to expensive jewelry and many other items. Sometimes, when I'm in a hurry, I prefer the mall because it offers me a large diversity and very fast to go from one shop to another.

  5. Pingback: Jewish Bloggers
  6. Pingback: Maskil
  7. Pingback: Ainav Derkson
  8. Pingback: FloridaIsrael

Comments are closed.