I Spent 18 Hours In Tel Aviv\'s Bus Station

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I arrived at the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station at 5:34 a.m. on the rainiest day of the year. The concrete building was just yawning open; shopkeepers placed bourekas onto particleboard pallets and dressed mannequins in discount winter coats as they prepared for the 60,000-plus passengers who would pass through the station that day.

But unlike the travelers who were now slowly trickling into the building, I wasn’t going anywhere.

I spent a total of 18 hours and six minutes in the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station that day. I had been intrigued by the building — a dime-store megamall housed inside the second-largest bus station in the world — since I first stepped inside on a reporting trip to Israel three years ago. I didn’t know at the time that the station is perhaps the most reviled place in the country, seen by most Israelis as a hub of prostitution and crime in Neve Sha’anan, a working class south Tel Aviv neighborhood.

Two nights before my reporting project, an acquaintance warned me against so much as walking near the station after nightfall. I didn’t tell her that I planned to spend an entire day there.

The station was, in fact, first conceived as the salvation of South Tel Aviv. It was proposed by a businessman named Arieh Filtz, son of a famous Israeli baker, as an alternative to the neighborhood’s old and overcrowded station. One of the first examples of a public utility in Israel built by a private entrepreneur, Filtz’s new bus station was quickly approved by the Tel Aviv municipality after the 1967 war.

The station was to be the biggest in the world, a harebrained ambition given the fact that fewer than 3 million people were living in Israel at the time. Filtz commissioned the Israeli architect Ram Karmi, a practitioner of the brutalist style of architecture — known for fortress-like, concrete structures — to create a building in which travelers would become so disoriented that they would get lost among the shops and spend money. Karmi envisioned the station as a “city under a roof,” said Yonatan Mishal, a Tel Aviv artist who gives tours of the bus station. “He wanted to make these huge, disgusting places on purpose.”

Inside the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station

Naomi Zeveloff

Inside the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station


Source : http://forward.com/culture/210717/i-spent-18-hours-in-tel-avivs-bus-station/

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I Spent 18 Hours In Tel Aviv's Bus Station
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