|The Library of Congress caption reads "Jaffa" and that the|
picture was taken between "1898-1946"
These Christian photographers captured on glass plates and film the Jewish life in Eretz Yisrael decades prior to the establishment of the State of Israel.
This picture provides an example. Labelled simply "Jaffa," the photo is dated between "1898 and 1946," the years the American Colony Photo Department was active in the Holy Land.
But there's much more in the photo beyond the two obviously Orthodox Jewish men walking in Jaffa. We can even narrow down the date of the picture.
The picture could not have been taken during World War I when the Turkish rulers expelled the Jews of Jaffa and hundreds died.
|The rail line into the Jaffa Port (Cairo Postcard Trust)|
But the men are not walking on the rails laid during the Turkish rule. Those rails were "standard gauge," at least one meter apart, and indeed in the old postcard people are shown walking two abreast. The rails around Jaffa were ripped out by the Turks during World War I for use elsewhere in the Palestine war effort. One can surmise that they left the wooden railroad ties.
In the photo above, only one of the Orthodox Jews can walk between the rails. The line was 60 centimeters wide, a fact that dates the picture to post-December 1917, when, with the port beyond the range of Turkish artillery, the British built a narrow-gauge track along Raziel Street, probably using the wide Turkish ties, to move supplies from the port. The narrow gauge tracks operated until 1928.