Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Traffic Circle

28 Rachel Imenu sits on a traffic circle that today is known as Recha Freier Plaza. The circle marks the meeting point of three roads: Kovshei Katamon, Bostanai, and Rachel Imenu. While Bostanai is a smaller road, the other two are main routes in the neighborhood. Rachel Imenu was part of the original road that went from the Greek Colony to the monastery, and Kovshei Katamon follows the route of a major water pipe in the Mandate Period.
Unlike many traffic circles, including the one immediately to the south, this plaza was a feature of the original plan for the neighborhood, appearing on maps in the 1930 as an ovular shape demarcated by low walls in front of the various plots. According to David Kroyanker, the only other two plazas that are as old are Orde Wingate Plaza (formerly Salome Plaza) at the intersection of Balfour, Marcus and Jabotinsky, and Allenby Plaza in Romema, at the intersection of Romema, Hatzvi, Torah Mitzion and Haor.
In a 1935 map, 28 Rachel Imenu and the building to the south, 35 Rachel Imenu, are the only ones that appear around the plaza. However, 35 Rachel Imenu does not sit as directly on the plaza. Perhaps for this reason the plaza was known as Abdin Plaza in the Mandate Period. (Kroyanker, Talbiye, Katamaon and the Greek Colony, 198) Soon after the building to the north is added, and by 1948 two other buildings bordering the Plaza were built. The final building, to the northwest, was only completed in the 1990s. Before it was named after Recha Freier it was briefly called Achlama Plaza.
In front of 28 Rachel Imenu and 35 Rachel Imenu there are a number of stools installed in the sidewalk. These come from when the Reut School was located in the building in 2001. The stools are in memory of Ester Deutsch, who died in 1997 and was designed by Ron Gilad.
More than any other of the six buildings, 28 Rachel Imenu is influenced by the plaza. It is a symmetrical building whose axis runs through the circle. The building's architecture also relates, as the entrance juts out toward the circle and a balcony oversees it. There is an exceptionally large sidewalk in front and a large stretch of circular wall around the garden.

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