Many know the story how Tel Aviv was built on the top of the sand dunes outside of the Old Jaffa, in 1909. But only few really know that the first to do that, much before, were the Americans. It was a small group of the Christian pioneers who were the first to purchase a piece of land at the outskirts Jaffa in 1866 and to build a small town of few streets there. What was absolutely unimaginable that those people brought their wooden prefabricated houses from the State of Main with them. This place is still called the American Colony and its wooden houses, well restored, tell this fascinating story.
Three years later, another group of people came from Germany to settle in the Holy Land. They called themselves and their Church the Templars. They first settled in Haifa in 1869 and further on continued building their prospering villages in many places in Palestine. In 1871 they purchased a big lump of land few miles away from Jaffa and built the first agricultural village, Sarona. Today Sarona is often called a Soho of Tel Aviv. Beautifully preserved, Sarona is one of the most attractive parts of the city.
And, finally, in 1886, the Jews of Jaffa, which was not protected by the walls anymore, bought a sandy land close to the sea shore to build their own modern neighborhood, Newe Zedek. Here the first Hebrew school was built. Here the first modern Hebrew writers wrote their first books about the life of the first pioneers. Home to the famous ballet theater Bat Sheba, full of small gallerias and restaurants, Newe Zedek is now one of the most attractive areas in Tel Aviv.
From this first neighborhood soon started spanning few more, until the whole cluster of neighborhoods came into an existence by the very end of the XIX Century. And finally, in 1909 Tel Aviv was established. It was established as the first (and the only at that time) modern town in Palestine. Tel Aviv grew up fast and finally three oldest villages, together with Jaffa itself, merged into a single metropolitan city.
But even today, the American Colony, Sarona and Newe Zedek all preserve their unique atmosphere of those pioneering years of the first settlers in the Modern times.