Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Whereabouts of the Jaffa Gate Clock Tower

Between the years 1907 and 1922, Jaffa Gate was home to an imposing 40-foot (13-m) clock tower.  The Ottoman authorities erected the tower in honor of one of the anniversaries of Abdul Hamid.  Not all were impressed with the addition.  G. K. Chesterton described the timepiece as “an unnaturally ugly clock, at the top of an ornamental tower, or a tower that was meant to be ornamental” (The New Jerusalem [1920]). 

Jaffa Gate, breach in city wall, mat04933 Jaffa Gate with clock tower, 1918-1922
Source: Jerusalem CD (Library of Congress, LC-matpc-04933)

Soon after the British took control of Jerusalem, the tower was dismantled.  According to a 1922 report of the Pro-Jerusalem Society (cited in part here), the tower “has been bodily removed from the north side of the Jaffa Gate, which it too long disfigured, and is being set up again in fulfilment of a promise (less aggressively and shorn of its more offensive trimmings) in the central and suitable neighbourhood of the Post Office Square.”

Tom Powers has recently learned that the plan was carried out, and the clock tower was re-erected, in substantially different form, in Allenby Square.  But it didn’t stay there long, for about a decade later, the tower was demolished.  According to the Palestine Post (Sept. 27, 1934), the demolition was required by roadwork being done to relieve traffic congestion.  (75 years later, roadwork to relieve congestion is still being done in the area!)

The photo below, unearthed from the Library of Congress archives by Tom Powers, shows the tower before its demolition.

Allenby Square clocktower-1934

Allenby Square with clock tower (1934)
Source: Diary in photos, Vol. 1, Library of Congress

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