Naama Barak
July 23, 2023

A market, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, is “a meeting together of people for the purpose of trade.” And the Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem most certainly fits that definition.

Not only is it unrivalled for fresh produce, delicacies of all kinds and even coffee, drinks and restaurants, but above all it is a meeting place for the wonderful and diverse people living in the city (not to mention tourists and yuppie visitors from Tel Aviv).

100 years of photographs at Machane Yehuda market
Jaffa Road, nowadays home to the Jerusalem Light Rail and heavy pedestrian traffic, borders the Machane Yehuda Market. It is pictured here in the summer of 1950. Photo by Benno Rothenberg, Meitar Collection, The Pritzker Family National Photography Collection, The National Library of Israel

As the market celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, we gathered photos showing its transformation over the decades.

The facilities, stalls and focal points of the market may have changed throughout the years, but scenes of its early days are still delightfully recognizable to the modern-day visitor, as is the strong resonance of the landmark as a meeting place for people from all walks of life.

Rather haphazard

The market began on an empty lot near the Machane Yehuda neighbourhood at the end of the 19th century, when Jerusalem was under Ottoman rule.

100 years of photographs at Machane Yehuda market
A vendor showcases his ware curbside at the Machane Yehuda Market in the 1950s. Photo by Nadav Mann, BITMUNA. Ephraim Dagani collection. The Pritzker Family National Photography Collection, The National Library of Israel
100 years of photographs at Machane Yehuda market
A fruit vendor in Machane Yehuda market, 1979. Photo by Gabi Laron archive, The Pritzker Family National Photography Collection, The National Library of Israel

Its first vendors were Arab farmers from nearby villages, who sold their wares to the Jewish residents of the neighborhood.

The market quickly became popular, saving both vendors and customers the long walk to the Old City market, but remained a rather haphazard affair.

100 years of photographs at Machane Yehuda market
Machane Yehuda shoppers, 1979. Photo by Gabi Laron archive, The Pritzker Family National Photography Collection, The National Library of Israel
100 years of photographs at Machane Yehuda market
A friendly game of backgammon in 2010. These gatherings, called a “parliament” in Hebrew, are a regular sight in the Iraqi part of the market. Photo by Moshe Milner/GPO

Within a few decades, the market became a proper establishment, but to the dismay of the British Mandate governor of the city, it lacked proper planning. He ordered an architectural plan of the place, complete with drinking water, sewage and lighting points.

This never happened, reportedly for budgetary reasons. Meanwhile, new streets and stores were added to the market bit by bit.

100 years of photographs at Machane Yehuda market
Security forces light candles in memory of the victims of a deadly terror attack that shook the market in the summer of 1997. Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO
100 years of photographs at Machane Yehuda market
An Arab man and a Jewish man converse in Machane Yehuda Market, 1960. Photo by Pridan Moshe/GPO

Around the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the market vendors increasingly were new Jewish immigrants.

100 years of photographs at Machane Yehuda market
Customers stocking up on fruit and vegetables at Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, 2018. Photo by Mick Harper via Shutterstock.com
100 years of photographs at Machane Yehuda market
A vendor offers fresh dates ahead of Sukkot in 1987. Photo by Ayalon Maggi/GPO
100 years of photographs at Machane Yehuda market
A Machane Yehuda market vendor, 2013. Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

In the decades that followed, the market turned into how we know it today – complete with paved streets, lighting, rooftops and clean public toilets.

100 years of photographs at Machane Yehuda market
A vendor hangs a braid of fresh garlic in the spring of 2013. Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO
100 years of photographs at Machane Yehuda market
The market is heaven not only for fruit and vegetables lovers, but also those with a sweet tooth. Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

An attempt in the early 2000s to move the market a few minutes away into a more modern, indoor space was vehemently opposed by both vendors and visitors, testifying to its omnipresent appeal and charm.

100 years of photographs at Machane Yehuda market
Chef Assaf Granit at the newly opened Machneyuda restaurant in the market in 2010, before it became a global, Michelin-starred phenomenon. Photo by Moshe Milner/GPO

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