Bound by Jaffa Road on the north, King George Street on the west, and Ben Yehuda Street on the southeast, the nicknamed Downtown Triangle is one of the most popular entertainment districts in all of Jerusalem. With beautiful weather conditions often found in the Holy Land, usually conducive to outdoor activities, the Triangle is a wonderful place to get outdoors, stretch your legs, and explore the cultural elegance of the city!
Prior to the British Mandate beginning in 1917, the Old City was Jerusalem’s main commercial district. The British, interested in developing new neighborhoods outside of the Old City Walls, designed a master plan that called for two commercial hubs within the New City. The Triangle was one of the hubs and outshone the other planned commercial district in the Mamilla area, easily becoming the cultural “hotspot” for residents and tourists alike.
From the 1930s through the 1970s, the Triangle flourished as the cultural heart of Jerusalem with its many upscale restaurants and shops run by German-Jewish immigrants. The elegant boutiques, coffeehouses, and exclusive restaurants frequently welcomed Mandate Officials and the wealthy. With its upper-crust patronage paving the way to unprecedented economic growth in the area, The Triangle became the place “to see and be seen!”
Decline and Rebirth
Following the reunification of Jerusalem after the Six-Day War in 1967, large commercial centers and government offices began expanding into other neighborhoods such as Talpiot, Givat Shaul, and Malha. Clientele of the upscale businesses had aged and the neighboring areas became populated by lower income Jewish community members who did not frequent the Triangle. Hummus huts opened for business where once sophisticated shops and highly-cultured dining establishments had stood. The economic situation in The Triangle further declined in the 1970s with the prevalence of television offering several channels; this only crippled business for the 14 area movie houses which had once gained attraction by featuring Hollywood movies.
In 1982, in an attempt to revitalize the area, Ben Yehuda Street and the Triangle’s interior streets were closed to traffic, thus introducing the concept of an outdoor pedestrian mall. The upscale tone was replaced by a more “populist” image, re-igniting the energy of the once-vibrant Downtown Triangle as the “heart” of the city.
Ben Yehuda Street
As one of the main streets of Jerusalem before the founding of the Israel, Ben Yehuda Street officially closed to automobile traffic in 1983, giving way to the open-air pedestrian mall. This lead to significant economic growth in the Triangle, a growth experienced from the late 1980s and into the early new millennium.
Today, Ben Yehuda Street is lined with beautifully decorated shops of all sorts, sidewalk cafes, pizzerias, hummus stands, and more, with most of the excitement and hustle-bustle catering to the interests and preferences of tourists. With the area attracting many young Israelis from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the nightlife in the area has skyrocketed, creating a unique culture, unlike anywhere else in the city.
With roughly 36,000 pedestrians visiting the outdoor mall daily, it is no surprise that an influx of street musicians, street artists, and outdoor entertainers frequent the area. The Triangle’s colorful parade of shops waiting for you to explore, eateries’ aromas enticing you to enter and dine, and attractions that bedazzle you and capture your imagination, will captivate your attention and hold you hostage: Don’t be shocked when you check your watch and find that you’ve spent your entire day in Jerusalem’s bustling Downtown Triangle, where, most definitely, “you’ll see and be seen!”