Country ,City ,Boy ,Girl

Haifa City Museum

Country ,City ,Boy ,Girl :

Childhood in Haifa (1930-1960)

Opening: 26. June 2016 | 20 pm

Closing: Friday, 31.03.2017

Curator: Liat Margalit

11 Ben Gurion Ave.,3502105 Haifa, Israel

Bildschirmfoto 2016-06-26 um 21.16.56

Country, City, Boy, Girl

Childhood Memories from Haifa: 1930–1960

“Climbing pine trees, the scent of fig trees, cracking pine nuts
and pine-needle chains, picking flowers,, the beach, the Saturday morning
bus, the Bat-Galim and Hapoel swimming pools, an unforgettable diving
board, improvised wheels, a new bike from the aunt in America, steep steps,
the municipal theater and library, an  afternoon film at the movie theater.“
These are a few of the memories that surfaced repeatedly in response to
the question, “What was childhood in Haifa like?”
This exhibition focuses on three decades marked by significant
changes in Haifa. During the 1930s, processes that had begun in the
late nineteenth century came to fruition under the British Mandate,
alongside new initiatives that led to urban and economic growth. During
this period, Haifa absorbed tens of thousands of Jewish immigrants who
chose to settle in the city, thus leading to the construction of new
neighborhoods. Arab immigrants, both, Christians and Muslims,
from nearby villages were drawn to the developing city as well. This
expansion was given a clear-cut spatial expression: most of the new
Jewish neighborhoods developed in the area of Hadar HaCarmel and
along the mountaintop.  The Arab neighborhoods developed in the lower,
flat area towards the bottom of the mountain slope, in the vicinity of the
Old City, the port, and the city’s commercial center. Mandatory Haifa
was composed of a unique human mosaic – European immigrants and
locals, Arab traders and entrepreneurs and Jewish industrialists,
workers and craftsmen as well as a wealthy urban bourgeoisie.

The end of the British Mandate, the 1948 War,
and the establishment of the State of Israel constituted
a historical turning point. The downtown area and its
surroundings were abandoned and almost entirely
destroyed in the course of the military operation, Shikmona.
The Arab neighborhoods were emptied of their original
residents, and came to be populated by the thousands
of Jewish immigrants who arrived in the Haifa port,
which served as the portal to the country. New neighborhoods
were rapidly

constructed in various areas, and public, cultural, and academic institutions were founded. The former “mixed city” was quickly transformed into a “Hebrew city”, home to a Zionist bourgeoisie that had already established itself in the country, an Arab minority, and of an influx of new Jewish immigrants from the Levantand Europe. Its status as a socialist, working-class city was cemented, and it acquired an important role in the national ethos, as “Red Haifa.”

This changing and developing city was the environment into which generations of children were born. Growing up, they experienced the surrounding urban expanse on a small scale, in the most literal sense of the term. Experiencing the city was an inseparable part of their childhood, which was shaped by the specificity of their neighborhood and the demographic expanse into which they were born. In contrast to the familiar domestic environment, school, youth movements, and local childhood products, which were completely controlled by adults, the outdoor sphere enabled children to lead rich lives far from the scrutinizing gaze of their parents. The small, crowded apartments meant that children spent much of their time outdoors. The city was at the disposal of the children, offering them a unique balance between urban and natural surroundings

This exhibition is the product of dozens of objects taken out of storage, photographs from personal albums, as well as oral accounts told with much excitement by natives of the city and others who had spent their childhood here between 1930 and 1960. This initial, and obviously partial, exploration of childhood in a specific urban sphere points to the need for an in-depth study of the subject. One cannot speak of any single experience of childhood in Haifa. Rather, this exhibition portrays a wide range of personal experiences that reveal some common denominators and unexpected connections resulted of life in a shared urban sphere. What they all clearly share is a yearning for the Haifa of a bygone era.

Liat Margalit

Exhibition Curator

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