A new project of mine led me to be a tour guide to “Abandoned” Israeli sites. I offer these tours FREE of charge. Why? Because these rarely visited places should be seen by people who could appreciate them. So last Friday I led a little guided tour to one of my favorite places. On the way back, when walking on the dunes up the Hof Hasharon cliff, I’ve stumbled upon a completely hard-sand covered rifle casing. I know that not so far from this place there was a mandate British Police post, which task was to watch over the coast line and prevent illegal (Jewish) immigration in the 30th and the 40th of the 20th century. I was curious whether this casing could be that old.
After putting it in water and scratching the base of the casing, me and my friends could read the engraving in the metal: US 15 VII.
Searching for these signs over the internet, led us to a correspondent at the International Ammunition Association:
So… A Lewis automatic machine gun. And yes, it was used by the British army. I guess they had some field training, firing range to calibrate the gun or maybe even an actual warning shooting toward an immigration ship which tried to approach the beach. More then 70 years the casing was buried in the sand, and now it had some of its story told.
More interesting stories are waiting for us out there, and you are welcome to join me in revealing them. Check it out and sign in for a tour: derelictisraelfreetour
“Magen” Factory was built by the Israel Military Industry in Tel-Aviv at 1950. The factory manufactured weapons as the “Uzi” machine gun and the “Galil” rifle, up unit 1996. During that process a lot of chemical waste was buried in the ground. At 1997 the first signs of the terrible neglect has surfaced, when a ground test results has shown that the whole area is heavily contaminated with dangerous metals and chemicals. The ground water was also contaminated and at least 25 wells had to be closed down.
It took another 15 long years for the government to dig out the contaminated soil and transport it to a special chemical waste facility. But now the damage was too great, and 10 kilometer square of underground water was infected. All the development plans for the area had to be postponed until better results would be found.
The only people that enjoy the current status-qua are a few graffiti artists that turned the empty factory into their own art gallery. Brave urban explorers who ventures into the area can now enjoy 4 floors of the finest graffiti art of disturbing images about destruction and human evil.
Camera and editor: Yaniv Berman
Music: Bernard Herrmann
“Magen” Factory on XNet
After 74 years the Rama Theater, sitting on 57 Jabotinsky Street, is being torn down. In the next months a 22-story high-rise will erupt from under the rubble and only a sad looking wall of shame will remind us of the place it once was. The rain is falling, the walls are crying and the memories are slowly washed down and are seeping into the filthy ground, where the Rama Theater is buried, deep inside the decaying history of a city that wants to forget. May our regrets rest in peace…
Camera and editor: Yaniv Berman
Music: Le Orme
57 Jabotinsky Street – Part 1
The old “Rama” cinema theatre was designed by the German-Polish engineer Leopold Lustig, with influence of the great Art-Deco buildings of the thirties. The structure was completed with the aid of engineer Israel Michaeli in 1938, and was the pride of the Jewish settlement. The impressive structure sits on 1,178 square meters, and in its glory days thousand spectators sat inside the main hall and gallery. “Rama” theatre flourished in the years preceding the Israeli declaration of independence, and was a drawing center to the entire population of Jewish people and Muslims that lived in the area.
In the 80th the competition between the cinemas was hard and a theatre with only one great hall playing just one movie at a time couldn’t bring enough audience to cover all the expanses. 1982 was the year when the “Rama” theatre was terminally closed. From that moment the deserted theatre began to rot, and in 1992 a part of the ceiling fell and made a lot of internal damage. On the other hand, this rotting process gave the place a life of its own. Straying cats, doves and bats made this place their new home. Also people came from time to time and enjoyed the special atmosphere of the place, and some of them even left their artistic mark behind.
During the long years that the “Rama” theatre sat lonely and deserted, it has changed many hands, and also collected a huge property tax debt to the city. In a very controversial decision the city decided to cut the debt in more than 70%, so it could be sold to a new owner who will be able to revive it. Even though this place is considered to be “historic” and should be treated as such, the new owner decided to build a tower residential building of 23 floors, preserving only the front wall of the old Art-Deco Theater. In November 2011 the bulldozers arrived and started the process of destroying the old structure, and making it a new residential monster.
(The vision and the destruction)
During the following months I’ll keep documenting the new “Rama” project, and bring further updates.
Jabotinsky 27 on XNET.
Lifta was populated since ancient times; Nephtoah is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as a border between the Israelite tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The Romans and Byzantines called it Nephtho, and the Crusaders referred to it as Clepsta.
In the late nineteenth century, Lifta was described as situated on the side of a steep hill, with a spring and rock-cut tombs to the south.In mid-1940, Lifta was predominantly Muslim, with a population of 2,550. The farmers of Lifta marketed their produce in Jerusalem markets and took advantage of the city’s services.
In the 1948 war Arabs fled from villages at the entrance to Jerusalem, among them Lifta. Most of the inhabitants fled, but the village remained largely intact. Some 55 original stone houses are still standing but the village has never been repopulated.
In 2011, plans were announced to demolish the village and build a luxury development consisting of 212 luxury housing units and a hotel. Former residents brought a legal petition to preserve the village as an historic site.
(All photos here are taken with Pentax Spotmatic F)
Many years of neglect, heavy debts to the city and criminals taking over the property helped to transform this big abandoned site to a petri dish saturated with glorious graffiti art, improvised skating structures, field labs for dubious chemical experiments, a habitat for a large community of bats and vandals of all sorts.
The original owner of the property is probably the country real estate fund. In the midst of the 80th the fund leased the place to two privet owned companies that used to rent is to local business, until the end of the 90th. Eventually the buildings were too worn out for use, and the companies, with a huge debt to the city, couldn’t find the money for renovation. With most of the property empty, criminals took over and used the place for their own purposes. Ten years later, and countless of court hearings, the building and warehouse at Friedman 14 are about to collapse, and this huge land that stands just in the middle of a very successful business area is now completely dedicated to the dark lords of the urban derelicts. Compared with the last owners of the property, that didn’t do much to maintain their assets; the place is now a prosperous ghost center that keeps changing all the time.
The series ‘Haunted Houses’ investigate the stories and mysteries of abandoned houses. The name of the city was purposely wiped out – the haunted houses are part their own ghost town. You are welcome to raise your own memories of the house and its surroundings.
Camera and editor: Yaniv Berman
Thanks: Amir Kreizberg & Guy Salach
Music: Roar by Michael Giacchino
More Haunted Houses are waiting for you…