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25 Things You Should Know About Tel Aviv

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For the 400,000 residents of Tel Aviv, Israel's very own Sin City, priorities include basking in the sun, finding the best espresso, and partying all night long. It's that very laid-back lifestyle that helped draw more than 3.3 million visitors in 2014. Read on for more facts about the city by the sea.

1. Founded in April 1909, Tel Aviv was the first modern Hebrew city. The area, once a large expanse of sand dunes, was originally called Ahuzat Bayit. A year later, the name was changed to Tel Aviv, meaning "Spring Mound." 


2.
In 1949, David Ben-Gurion, who became the country's first Prime Minister, declared Israel's independence inside Tel Aviv's Independence Hall. At the time, Jordan controlled Jerusalem, so Tel Aviv served as the political capital until 1967.

3. Rainy days won't bring down city dwellers: Tel Aviv enjoys 300 annuals days of sunshine.

4. … Which means residents and tourists alike spend plenty of time outdoors. There are 13 official beaches over 8.7 miles. Each year, 8.5 million bathers come out to soak up the sun. Those not in the mood to splash in the water challenge friends to a game of Matkot, the Israeli version of raquetball, usually played on the sand or concrete.

5. National Geographic has deemed Tel Aviv the ninth best beach city in the world.

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6.
The best way to get around: Rent a bike for about $5, then cruise along the beachside promenade. There are more than 150 bikeshare stations around town.

7. One '90s trend is alive and well here: Once a week, nearly 300 rollerbladers hit the streets together for a group skate organized by Tel Aviv Rollers.

8. Tel Aviv is home to more than 100 sushi restaurants. As of 2010, it had the most sushi restaurants per capita after New York City and Tokyo. 

9. That's not the city's only claim to food fame. The Italian government awarded Tel Aviv's Pronto the title of "Best Italian Restaurant Outside of Italy."

10. On the sweeter side: Max Brenner, the international chain of chocolate restaurants and bars, began its empire in Ra'anana, a suburb of Tel Aviv.


11.
In the mood for something lighter? Juice stands can be found on virtually every cornerand beachgoers often snack on watermelon with Feta cheese.

12. Often referred to as the Miami of the Middle East, Tel Aviv has been named one of the world's top party cities. Because Shabbat is observed on Friday, Thursday nights draw the biggest crowd, with revelers raging until dawn. Not surprisingly, it's also been called the city that never sleeps.

13. Another, more controversial nickname: "The Bubble," which references residents' largely secular approach to life, as well as how easy it is to forget about the political reality outside the city's borders.

14. Residents work as hard as they play. Tel Aviv University is the country's largest university and is ranked among the world's top 100 universities. Recently, researchers at the university developed a therapy that may treat mantle cell lymphoma, the most aggressive form of blood cancer.

15. Known as one of the world's most innovative cities, its startup scene is rivaled only by California's Silicon Valley. The city is home to more than 1500 companies(mostly tech) that employ 43,000 workers.

16. To help attract international startups, Tel Aviv offers incentive packages to entrepreneurs abroad. This includes temporary accommodation and workspace, as well as consulting and legal advice.

17. Thanks to young entrepreneurs and their startup fortunes, the city's property prices have increased by 84 percent since 2008.

18. In December, the $776 million Meier-on-Rothschild Tower complex opened. At 510 feet, it's Tel Aviv's tallest building. The 141 apartments range from $3 million to a $44.2 million, 15,263-square-foot penthouse with eight (!) bedrooms.

19. Tel Aviv's most impressive pieces of architecture are its 4000 Bauhaus buildings, known as the White City. Named a World Heritage Site, the white concrete structures are perched on leg-like pillars and have flat roofs.


20.
In 2013, the mayor allocated $100,000, about a third of the city's total tourism budget, on a campaign to attract more gay tourists.

21. Now, the city hosts the largest Gay Pride parade in Asia and the Middle East. In June 2015, 180,000 people came out to celebrate, 30,000 of whom were tourists.


22.
With more than 200 museums, Israel has the highest number of museums per capitain the world. Tel Aviv is home to country's three largest.

23. Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People, is the biggest in the world specializing in the history of Judaism and the Jewish diaspora.

24. For 29 years, Tel Aviv's Nahalt Binyamin street has hosted an Arts & Crafts fair twice a week. Roughly 220 artists exhibit and sell their work, which includes glass dinnerware, jewelry and door signs.

25. Tel Aviv is home to the country's largest sports club, the Maccabi Football Club, which holds more titles than any other in Israel. Their biggest competitor: Hapoel Tel-Aviv, also located in the city.

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These LED Crosswalks Adapt to Whoever Is Crossing
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Courtesy Umbrellium

Crosswalks are an often-neglected part of urban design; they’re usually just white stripes on dark asphalt. But recently, they’re getting more exciting—and safer—makeovers. In the Netherlands, there is a glow-in-the-dark crosswalk. In western India, there is a 3D crosswalk. And now, in London, there’s an interactive LED crosswalk that changes its configuration based on the situation, as Fast Company reports.

Created by the London-based design studio Umbrellium, the Starling Crossing (short for the much more tongue-twisting STigmergic Adaptive Responsive LearnING Crossing) changes its layout, size, configuration, and other design factors based on who’s waiting to cross and where they’re going.

“The Starling Crossing is a pedestrian crossing, built on today’s technology, that puts people first, enabling them to cross safely the way they want to cross, rather than one that tells them they can only cross in one place or a fixed way,” the company writes. That means that the system—which relies on cameras and artificial intelligence to monitor both pedestrian and vehicle traffic—adapts based on road conditions and where it thinks a pedestrian is going to go.

Starling Crossing - overview from Umbrellium on Vimeo.

If a bike is coming down the street, for example, it will project a place for the cyclist to wait for the light in the crosswalk. If the person is veering left like they’re going to cross diagonally, it will move the light-up crosswalk that way. During rush hour, when there are more pedestrians trying to get across the street, it will widen to accommodate them. It can also detect wet or dark conditions, making the crosswalk path wider to give pedestrians more of a buffer zone. Though the neural network can calculate people’s trajectories and velocity, it can also trigger a pattern of warning lights to alert people that they’re about to walk right into an oncoming bike or other unexpected hazard.

All this is to say that the system adapts to the reality of the road and traffic patterns, rather than forcing pedestrians to stay within the confines of a crosswalk system that was designed for car traffic.

The prototype is currently installed on a TV studio set in London, not a real road, and it still has plenty of safety testing to go through before it will appear on a road near you. But hopefully this is the kind of road infrastructure we’ll soon be able to see out in the real world.

[h/t Fast Company]

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Tokyo Tops List of Safest Cities in the World, New Report Says
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When choosing a city to call home, some might weigh factors like affordability, potential for job growth, and even the number of bookstores and libraries. But for many aspiring urbanites, safety is a top concern. This list of the world’s safest cities from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) proves you don’t need to trade your sense of welfare for the hustle and bustle of city life—especially if you're headed to Tokyo.

As Quartz reports, the EIU assessed the overall safety of 60 major cities using categories like health safety, infrastructure safety, personal safety, and the cybersecurity of smart city technology. With an overall score in 89.80 out of 100 points, Tokyo is the 2017 Safe Cities Index's highest-ranking city for the third year in a row.

While it was rated in the top five places for cybersecurity, health security, and personal security, Tokyo's No. 12 spot in the infrastructure security category kept it from receiving an even higher score. The next two spots on the EIU list also belong to East Asian cities, with Singapore snagging second place with a score of 89.64 and Osaka coming in third with 88.67. Toronto and Melbourne round out the top five. View more from the list below.

1. Tokyo
2. Singapore
3. Osaka
4. Toronto
5. Melbourne
6. Amsterdam
7. Sydney
8. Stockholm
9. Hong Kong
10. Zurich

You may have noticed that no U.S. cities broke into the top 10. The best-rated American metropolis is San Francisco, which came in 15th place with a score of 83.55. Meanwhile, New York, which used to hold the No. 10 slot, fell to No. 21 this year. The report blames the U.S.'s poor performance in part on America's aging infrastructure, which regularly receives failing grades from reports like these due to lack of maintenance and upgrades.

Surprised by your city's rank? For an idea of how other countries view the U.S. in terms of safety, check out this list of travel warnings to foreign visitors.

[h/t Quartz]

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