Thursday, March 14, 2013

Solomon's Pools -- (Continued) -- Jerusalem's 'Swimming Hole'

"Solomon's pools becomes a picnic and swimming resort. Group of bathers"
(Library of Congress)
Some 20 years ago, Tel Aviv's Mayor Shlomo Lahat "gave" one of his beaches to Jerusalem's mayor Teddy Kollek.  Ostensibly, "Jerusalem Beach" is the closest beach to Jerusalem and those citizens who want to drive the 40 kilometers to swim and splash.

But Jerusalem has had huge swimming pools nearby for 2,000 years, and the photographers of the American Colony filmed the Jerusalem residents who flocked to Solomon's Pools in the 1940s.

Solomon's Pools -- Picnic and Swimming Resort
 and here (circa 1940, Library of Congress)

Cars arriving from Jerusalem and concession stand
(Library of Congress)

From 1948 until 1967 the area was occupied by Jordan, and Israelis could not travel to Solomon's Pools.  The area, of course, was open to local Arab residents.

After the 1967 War, the area was reopened and Jerusalemites and residents of the local Jewish communities would visit the pools for picnics and to swim.  

 After the Oslo Agreements, Solomon's Pools were granted to the Palestinian Authority.  Since the mid-1990s, Jewish groups have been able to visit only with special permission and escort by Israel's army.  Foreign tourists can reach the site without restrictions from Palestinian-controlled Bethlehem.

Recommended reading (in Hebrew) סיפורן של אמות המים לירושלים  The Story of the Water Supply to Jerusalem from "All About Jerusalem," Israeli Tour Guide Course.  Photographs by Tamar Hayardeni and Ron Peled whose comments and photos have appeared in these postings in the past.

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