Park ha-Mesilah: The Railroad Track Park
There’s a new park in town. It’s located along a section of disused railroad track in southern Jerusalem, between Oranim Junction and the Talpiot industrial zone. The area was slated to become a road, but the protests of local activists were effective in preventing that plan from being carried out. Now that the park is in place, there are further plans to pull up the old tracks and replace them with a bicycle and pedestrian route. I’m all for it.
Yesterday I decided to walk home from work through the park. On the way, I took pictures of each of the sign posts that explain various buildings and locations along the route. I include some of them here. The full set, with translations, is up on my Flickr page.
Here, at the first station of the park, located just outside the Democratic School in the Mekor Hayyim neighborhood, is a map with an overview of the park and its purpose. My translation of the caption follows:
“The idea for Park ha-Mesilah [the railway track park] came into being when nature lovers discovered a hedgehog that had been run over at the Oranim junction. They wished to create a safe pathway for the local fauna to the city and outside it. The land around the railroad tracks, which passed by here until 1998, remained uncultivated but neglected. Currently, the residents seek to establish a park with a bicycle and pedestrian route for the benefit of the residents.”
As the small print on the bottom of the first sign post says, the park was established partly as a project of students taking a course in art, activism and public space at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design.
Here’s a look at the sign post for Station 1, which is right next to the sign post that contains the overview and map:
“This building, which was constructed in the 1920s, was converted into a vacation hostel in 1947. The old-timers of the neighborhood remember how Mr. Vardi would put the neighborhood children to work in exchange for pocket money.
“The pension took part in the war effort when the state was established. It served as an army headquarters, and the first Israeli aircraft was built here.”
(Whoa! The first Israeli aircraft was built in the building where I pray with the Leader Minyan once a month? I had no idea!)
There’s lots more stuff to see. Like the derailed train car, which is still there after who-knows-how-many years:
To see photos of all nine sign posts with translations, plus a few more pics of the area, head on over here.