"One morning, when I was seven years old, Bialik
acknowledged my existence and asked me:
'Reb Nahum - what can you tell me?'
Embarrassed, I blinked my eyes and said:
From wherever we stand - we can see the sea. If it's
blue or if it's green - or stormy. Or if it's shining.
Bialik squinted his green eyes due to the glare from
the surrounding sand, and said: 'Sand, not sea.'
But, I answered, you have to climb up the pole of
the shack - and then you'll able to see it. That's what
I do, and that's how I know if the sea's not stormy.
And then I decide whether to go and have a swim.
But for you - it's enough that you climb on top of
and stand on this table."
(Undated manuscript, Gnazim)
That's how the young Nahum Gutman recorded his experiences. Gutman later became one of Tel Aviv's most well-known figures and its eminent chronicler, using both his paint brush and pen.
Over a century has elapsed since the days when anyone standing on a table in an Ahuzat Bayit home could see the twinkle of the sea or its color, and know whether it was blue or green. The city has grown and a lot has changed about it, but one thing remains the same - the "blue wall" - which is how Gutman called the Mediterranean, still "defines the character and beauty" of the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo.
Tel Aviv-Yafo's sea and coastline are, without a doubt, one of our city's most beautiful and enjoyable assets, offering a refuge and release from the urban hustle and bustle. The soundtrack of the waves, the thwack of the paddleballs, and the potpourri of languages spoken by tourists from across the globe can all be heard against the backdrop of the blue and golden expanses and magnificent sunsets.
In recent years, we have been reinforcing the sea's presence in the life of the city and its landscapes: we've removed barriers, linked different sections of the coastline, and developed a 14-kilometer boardwalk that extends from Bat Yam in the south to Herzliya in the north. We are continuing to upgrade the boardwalk, while making the beach more accessible to the public. We have added walking paths and bike paths, terraced seating that utilizes the differences in height between the street and shoreline, shade structures, outdoor exercise equipment, and coastal parks. Six of our beaches, as well as the marina, are Blue Flag certified, which means they comply with the most stringent standards of sustainability, cleanliness and accessibility. And we have also taken steps to regulate the prices of food items and equipment rentals at the beaches, offering them to the city's residents at a discount.
Thanks to these large-scale efforts, a growing number of people can now enjoy easier access to the beach and coast, well-maintained and widely available facilities, inexpensive and affordable recreational activities and, of course, a picture more breathtaking than any work of art - the view of the open sea that continuously changes. Gutman was right: the blue wall - the Mediterranean - is what defines our city's character and beauty.
Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo