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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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Neighborhoods
How 8 Phoenix Neighborhoods Got Their Names
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Inhabited by native people for thousands of years and colonized by white settlers in the 1860s, Phoenix has developed a booming economy based around “the Five Cs”: cotton, citrus, cattle, climate, and copper. It's grown from a once-dusty desert town to the state capital, as well as the nation's fifth-largest city, with a population of 1.6 million and counting. Here’s the story of how eight of the city's neighborhoods ended up with their current names.

1. ALHAMBRA

Best known as the founder of Glendale, Arizona, William John Murphy was a pioneer, contractor, and the impresario of the Arizona Improvement Company, created in 1887 to sell land and water rights south of the Arizona Canal. Murphy also greatly contributed to the early development of Scottsdale and Phoenix, and he was responsible for splitting a large chunk of his land along the western border of Phoenix, next to Glendale, into smaller subdivisions [PDF]. He also came up with the subdivision's names; Alhambra stemmed from the 13th-century palace and fortress of the same name in Granada, Spain. Today, the neighborhood is known for large homes and its Murphy Bridle Path, named after its former landowner.

2. AHWATUKEE

The word Ahwatukee—an “urban village” in the East Valley region of Phoenix—has roots in the Crow language, but theories about its translation differ. Before it was a village, the name referred to a single estate built in 1920 that sat at the modern-day streets of Sequoia Trails and Appaloosa Drive. The original builder, William Ames, first named it Casa de Sueños ("house of dreams"), but he died three months after moving in. His widow, Virginia Ames, owned the house until her death in 1932, and it was eventually sold to a rich Midwesterner named Helen Brinton, who had an interest in the Crow tribe. Her attempt to translate “house of dreams” into Crow was Ahwatukee, but the tribe says there’s no such word in their language. The name caught on regardless, being used to refer to the house as well as the area that developed around it.

3. SUNNYSLOPE

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Southwest was a place where sick people would travel from all across the U.S. to recuperate from pulmonary illnesses—especially pulmonary tuberculosis. The hot, arid climate was thought to dry out one's lungs, while the year-round sunshine was believed to have healing properties in general. In the early 20th century, Sunnyslope—and Sunnyslope Mountain, marked by a 150-foot-tall white S near its peak—became known as an area where ill people could get well. California architect William Norton built a subdivision in the area in 1911, and it was his daughter who came up with the name Sunnyslope after admiring the sun glinting off the slope of the mountain.

4. F. Q. STORY HISTORIC DISTRICT

The F.Q. Story district is named after Francis Quarles Story, who purchased the land it’s on back in 1887. Formerly a wool merchant, Story moved to Los Angeles County for health reasons and became a citrus farmer before investing in land in Arizona’s Salt River Valley and promoting agricultural development there. He never lived in Phoenix, but he did have a hand in the development of its major thoroughfare, Grand Avenue, as well as its subsequent streetcar line. The F.Q. Story neighborhood was built as a “streetcar suburb,” with newspaper ads in 1920 calling the grand opening "one of the big real estate events of the season." (Unfortunately, a flood at nearby Cave Creek caused a temporary halt in construction the following year, but the area rebounded after a dam was constructed in 1923.)

5. WILLO

Willo started out as a planned community, an idyllic suburb on the outskirts of Phoenix, although today it lies near downtown. A man named J. P. Holcomb acquired the southern part of the neighborhood in 1878 and then the northern part in 1886, using the land mostly for farming for the next 20 years. In the early 1900s, several homes were built on long, narrow lots, and 41 more were added in the '20s, but the area was still isolated from the city and it was difficult to attract buyers. Developers decided it needed a snappy name, and came up with Willonot from the willow tree, but from combining the two nearest voting districts: Wilshire and Los Olivos.

6. LAVEEN

As early as 1884, Mexican and Mormon settlers were living in what’s now called Laveen Village, in the Southwestern part of Phoenix. The school district was called the Harovitz District, but the community itself had no name for more than 30 years, until Roger Laveen was appointed as its first postmaster in 1913 [PDF]. The post office was located in the back of Laveen’s brother's new general store, which became a cornerstone of the town. Roger only worked in the post office for about two years, although both brothers continued living in the area that now bears their name for decades more.

7. MEDLOCK PLACE

Medlock Place was named after prominent residential developer Floyd W. Medlock, who created the community in 1926 with the idea of giving it a rural aesthetic despite being only a few miles from downtown Phoenix. The precocious Medlock—he was only in his early 20s—planned palm tree-lined roads in the new community and sold pre-built houses, a ground-breaking move in 1920s Phoenix. (In an ad, Medlock called his community "the Subdivision Extraordinary.") For his subsequent South Medlock Place addition, he began selling vacant lots instead, with buyers permitted to hire their own builders.

8. ARCADIA

Located at the foot of Camelback Mountain and one of the wealthiest areas of Phoenix, Arcadia started out like a lot of the city’s neighborhoods: as citrus orchards. The first grove was planted in 1899, and by 1920, the foothills were covered in citrus trees—thanks in large part to the Arcadia Water Company, which set up a widespread irrigation system starting in 1919. Soon, farmers and developers began investing in the region and building homes. The neighborhood took its name from the water company, which in turn got its name from Greek mythology: Arcadia was where Pan, the goat god, originated—a region supposedly named for its king, Arcas, the hunter. The association with nature is still apt, since fruit trees abound in the neighborhood even today.

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Big Questions
Why is New York City Called The Big Apple?
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New York City has been called many things—“The Great American Melting Pot,” “Gotham,” “The City that Never Sleeps”—but its most famous nickname is “The Big Apple.” So just where did this now-ubiquitous moniker originate?

MAKING A BIG APPLE

Over the years, there have been many theories about how New York City came to be called “The Big Apple.” Some say it comes from the former well-to-do families who sold apples on the city's streets to make ends meet during the Great Depression. Another account posits that the term comes from a famous 19th-century brothel madam named Eve, whose girls were cheekily referred to as her “Big Apples.” But the nickname actually springs from a catchphrase used in the 1920s by The Morning Telegraph sports writer John J. Fitz Gerald in his horse racing column, “Around the Big Apple.” Beginning on February 18, 1924, he began every column with the header, “The Big Apple. The dream of every lad that ever threw a leg over a thoroughbred and the goal of all horsemen. There's only one Big Apple. That's New York.”

At the time, the jockeys and trainers of smaller horses were said to want to make a “Big Apple," which was their term for the big money prizes at larger races in and around New York City.

Fitz Gerald reportedly first heard "The Big Apple" used to describe New York's racetracks by two African American stable hands at the famed New Orleans Fair Grounds, as he explained in his inaugural "Around the Big Apple" column: “Two dusky stable hands were leading a pair of thoroughbreds around the ‘cooling rings’ of adjoining stables at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans and engaging in desultory conversation. ‘Where y'all goin' from here?’ queried one. ‘From here we're headin' for The Big Apple,’ proudly replied the other. ‘Well, you'd better fatten up them skinners or all you'll get from the apple will be the core,’ was the quick rejoinder.” Fitz Gerald nabbed the colloquialism for his column, where it quickly took off.

CATCHING ON

Once the term entered the vocabularies of society up north, its popularity slowly spread outside of the horseracing context, and everything from nightclubs in Harlem to hit songs and dances about the city were named after “The Big Apple.” Most notably, New York jazz musicians in the 1930s—who had a habit of using the nickname to reference their hometown in their songs—helped the nickname spread beyond the northeast.

Throughout the mid-20th century, it remained New York City's nickname until it was officially adopted by the city in the 1970s. The New York Convention & Visitors Bureau hoped that using the moniker would brighten the image of an economically downtrodden and crime-ridden city in decline and revive the tourist economy. In 1997, to give Fitz Gerald his (somewhat unjust) due, then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani signed legislation naming the corner where Fitz Gerald and his family lived at West 54th Street and Broadway between 1934 and 1963 “Big Apple Corner.”

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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