Hopefully, PT readers are following my exploration of Tel Aviv’s White City on Instagram. As mentioned in the leading post above, this historic neighbourhood shares a lot of characteristics with others of its ilk:

Mid-century modernist beachfront neighbourhoods have an eclectic combo of dense housing, a mix of uses, unique businesses all kinds of restaurants, stirred together with social tolerance.  There’s often a gay village embedded within.

They were often the first suburbs of rapidly expanding cities or linear developments strung along beaches, a few blocks deep, served initially by streetcars and transit with limited parking.   Like Ipanema in Rio, like Miami Beach in Florida, like Venice in California.

They’ll have their beachfront attractions, of course, but usually a block in or leading perpendicularly from the waterfront will be a commercial street cluttered with restaurants and shops, still served by the transit that shaped them   Think Denman and Davie.

They’ve had their up and downs, starting off as attractive middle- and upper-class developments, sometimes as beachfront escapes, sometimes as single-family speculative real estate, sometimes as apartment districts and then gone into decline in the early 20th century until after World War II.   Like the West End, some were largely bulldozed and replaced with higher density rental apartments, some were simply passed by – until rediscovered in the late 20th century and then increasingly gentrified in the 21st.

What shall we call these districts?

Despite their variations, they share enough in common to have a generic name.   MiCe,Hi-Di-on-the-beach.   Okay, not that one.  But help us out.

Scot and I have been developing a list.  Here’s what we have so far:

  • White City – Tel Aviv
  • West End and Kitsilano – Vancouver 
  • Santa Monica and Venice Beach – Los Angeles
    Ipanema and Cocacabana – Rio
    Miami Beach – Florida
    Sea Point – Cape Town
    St. Kilda – Melbourne
    Potts Point and Bondi – Sydney
  • Oriental Bay – Wellington
  • Surfers Paradise – near Brisbane
    Waikiki – Hawaii

Add your own below!


  1. Guess we’re only focusing on waterfront neighbourhoods or?

    Ironically sometimes a ….major flood highlights such neighbourhoods. In Calgary am thinking of older gentrified neighbourhoods not far from the Bow River which there is still retrofit, building allowed…..Parkdale, Mission, Inglewood, Eau Claire, Hillhurst/Sunnyside and Bownness.

    Hope someone from Toronto adds to the list because there has been a heck of lot ongoing change re gentrification near the waterfront into midtown.

  2. This is a bit off-topic, but maybe not. I lived in Tel Aviv for a year in the mid-80s studying urban geography, architecture and city planning. I came to know that there is a huge part that political geography plays in Tel Aviv and in Israel.

    Tel Aviv is a relatively young city. It grew very quickly from a small village by the sea to a city in a short period in the 1930s, during the British Mandate in Palestine (1918 to 1948), due to thousands of Jews immigrating there from both western Europe, due to rising naziism, and eastern Europe and Russia, due to ongoing anti-Semitism and pogroms.

    A lot of the new immigrants had strong modernist and internationalist inclination in terms of architecture and urban culture, and the ancient city of Jerusalem did not appeal to them, and also Jerusalem and Haifa did not allow for rapid expansion due to mountains, hills, deserts and Palestinian settlements.

    Jerusalem was flat and easy to develop. I have heard it called a dusty desert; and not even part of the true ancient Israel of the Bible. In biblical times, the area was known as the land of the Philistines.

    On top of all of that, Tel Aviv has a strong secular bent which contrasts it a lot with the religiousness of Jerusalem. Many religious Israelis will never go there, especially to the beaches, which they view as too secular.

    But the hotels and condos populated by foreigners are very popular in the Tel Aviv beach district. It really shows that there are two Israels, just a few miles apart from each other, both architecturally, and culturally.

  3. Freemantle in Perth
    Dun Laoghaire in Dublin
    Estoril and Cascais in Lisbon

    I wonder about any examples from Barcelona? This seems like the closest European comparison to some of the cities that you’ve noted on your list so far. Some parts of Mumbai along the Marine Way might fit into what you are describing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *