10 Things You Need to Know About… Meir Dizengoff

1.  Meir Dizengoff was born in February 1861 in Bessarabia. He was to become an ardent Zionist.

2.  While studying chemical engineering at the University of Paris, he met Edmond James de Rothschild, who sent him to Palestine to open a glass factory. Because of impurities in the glass, the venture failed.

3.  In 1905, in Jaffa, Dizengoff established the Geulah Company to buy land from the Arabs. He also imported machinery and automobiles, co-founded a boat company, and served as Belgian consul.

4.  When he learned that a new, modern, Jewish neighborhood was to be established, he formed a partnership in 1908 with Ahuzat Bayit, the homestead society that was planning the new Hebrew city. Dizengoff’s vision involved peaceful coexistence with the Arabs.

5.  From 1911-1923 he was head of town planning and led the struggle for independence from Jaffa. In 1922, when Tel Aviv was recognized as a city, he was elected its first mayor.

6.  He advocated for and dedicated Tel Aviv’s first port–when it was nothing but water, sky, sand and a stick in the ground.

7.  A dedicated supporter of arts and culture, after his wife’s death in 1930, he donated his house to the city for a museum.  Initially the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, it is now Independence Hall, the place where David Ben-Gurion, in May 1948, declared the independent State of Israel.

8.  He was described as “a man who could reminisce about the future.”

9Statue_of_Mayor_Meir_Dizengoff_on_a_Horse_in_Tel_-Aviv.  Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street, formerly 187 Street, was named for him in 1934. Meir Park off King George St. in Tel Aviv is also named after him. This statue of him riding his horse is located on Rothschild Boulevard. Photo by Avishai Teicher.

10.  He died on 23 September 1936.

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