Life and Death of a Jewish Courtyard in Jerusalem's Old City
|A scene in a Jerusalem courtyard in the Jewish Quarter, April 1917 (Imperial War Museum Q 86316) |The picture of this Jerusalem courtyard in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City was taken by a German army photographer during World War I and was found in the British Imperial War Museum. Jerusalem at the time was ruled by the Ottomans.
The distinctive arches on the building on the right identify it as the Rothschild Building, part of the Batei Machaseh compound built for Jewish residents of the Jewish Quarter. It was donated by Baron Wilhelm Karl de Rothschild of Frankfurt. The building still bears the Rothschild family's coat of arms. The compound was built between 1860 and 1890 to provide housing for Jerusalem's poor.
The Rothschild Building appears in a series of dramatic Life Magazine photographs
taken by John Phillips during the Jordanian capture of the Old City during the 1948 war. The arches can be seen on the left side of these pictures; the picture above was a reverse view of the ones below. The first was taken in the midst of the fighting in June 1948, and the Jews are seen gathering their belongings for their evacuation. The second picture, taken in July 1948, shows the looting that took place. The pictures appear in the DaledAmos
|Jewish Quarter courtyard prior to evacuation (Life Magazine, John Phillips)|
|Jewish Quarter after the evacuation and looting (Life Magazine, John Phillips)|
Phillips' last picture shows the Jews' evacuation from the Old City under the guard of Jordanian Legionnaires. The Rothschild Building serves as the backdrop to the tragic picture.
|Jewish refugees heading to the Zion Gate near the Rothschild Building |
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Mystery Picture: A Fountain Found and a Windmill Disappears
Several excellent answers were received giving the location to our latest mystery picture. But where's the windmill?
|One caption in the Ottoman Archives labels this picture as the Ottoman Train Station Opening Ceremony.|
Another identifies it as the dedication of the Fountain in 1902. (Ottoman Imperial Archives)
As pointed out by several readers, the location is the public sabil (public fountain) above the Braichat HaSultan (Sultan's Pool) valley outside of Jerusalem's Old City, on the road between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The event is the public (re)dedication of the fountain, one of seven built by Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century.
Simon provided a contemporary photo and this explanation: It would be hard and dangerous to take a picture from the same location as today's mystery photo, because you would need to stand in the middle of a very busy road. In fact you would need to crouch down, because the level of the street has obviously risen since the photo was taken.
This screen capture from Google Maps Street View is very close though: Mishkenot Sha'ananim, the arch of the drinking fountain at the end of Sultan's pool, and the Sephardic synagogue in Yemin Moshe can all be seen in both pictures. I'm not sure why the Montefiore windmill isn't visible in the old picture -- either it's behind the flag or it blends into the background.
Unless I'm missing something, I don't see where the picture was doctored: the fancy pediment on top of the drinking fountain looks like a wooden attachment made at the time, not photo-doctoring.
|Google Street View picture of the site today. Note the windmill of Yemin Moshe|
Jonathan added: Suleiman the Magnificent's fountain "sabil" on Hebron Road (technically the dam at the southern end of the Sultan's Pool). Built in 1536. The entablature above the sabil is not original and was added by the editor. Mishkenot Shaananim is in the background.
What's missing in the Ottoman picture? A whole windmill!
Why was the windmill, built for the Jewish community in 1857, removed from the Ottoman picture? Perhaps because the imposing structure overshadowed the fountain.
|The same dedication ceremony before the 114-year-old Ottoman version of "Photoshop"|
(Harvard, Central Zionist Archives)
We thank Martin for this additional view of the fountain (below), taken from the Sultan's Pool. The hand-colored picture is from Chatham University's collection of Jerusalem pictures.
|The fountain is in the center of the dam beneath St. Andrew's Church and St. John's Eye Hospital (today|
the Mt. Zion Hotel)
|On the road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem (today's "Hebron Road") Note the fountain on the dam. |
(Hand colored. Chatham University)
Where Did this Ceremony Take Place over 100 Years Ago? FYI, the Photo Was Doctored!
Mystery Photo: We discovered the picture below in the newly digitized Ottoman Imperial Archives. As we investigated where it was photographed we discovered that this picture had been doctored.
We invite our readers to tell us where the picture was taken. Photograph the modern-day location and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or post your answer in the comments.
|Picture taken in Jerusalem in 1901 or 1902.|
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