Park HaMesila is very similar to New York’s Highline project. Both former railway tracks that fell into disuse and in recent years have been converted into a park for use by local residents.
The track comprises both a two lane cyclepath, and a pedestrian track that is built on the old train tracks themselves in a nod to the park’s former life. The track looks like wood, but if you pay close attention to the patterns, you’ll find repeats, which will tip you off that it’s actually a set of concrete tiles.
The former track winds its way from the First Station complex, between the neighbourhoods of Baka and the German Colony, through Talpiot and ending at the current train station at Malcha. Along the route, as it winds through the city, the path is decorated with trees, bushes and grassy areas, though the most effort on beautification seems to have been expended on the part of the route between Derech Bet Lechem and where it crosses Pierre Koenig.
Jerusalem’s First Station “Tachana Rishona” has been converted into a leisure complex, featuring restaurants, shops and entertainment. For a more detailed look at what’s on offer check out our profile of the Tachana Rishona.
This is a cool (kosher) restaurant that has been built in an old signal box and is located close to the Tachana Rishona, between the complex and where the route crosses Derech Bet Lechem .
On the crossroads of the park and Derech Bet Lechem there’s a small kiosk with picnic tables where they make fresh juices.
In the Summer months - right by the juice bar, a somewhat innocuous looking wire across the way turns into a refreshing set of sprinklers, the gentle mist providing a welcome break from the summer heat.
Bus Stop Library
An initiative of students from the Bezalel College of Art and Design, these former bus stops have been converted into free public libraries. Come bring your old books, and find something new to read!
Close to where the Rakevet crosses Pierre Koenig, a small area has been set aside where they have installed a set of outdoor exercise machines and a playground.
A new park has been built in 2016 near the Rami Levi store that looks out over the Park HaMesila. It has a ‘motocross’ style bike track for kids, playground, stream, toilets and an amphitheatre.
The park is over 7km long and does not have residential units along its whole length. The most built up (and desirable) area is currently between Derech Bet Lechem street and Pierre Koenig street. Within this stretch of the park, there some extremely luxurious properties to be found. There are also many plots that contain properties suitable for redevelopment - prices are high, so if location is more important than cost, this may be something worth looking into (for enquiries regarding opportunities in this neighbourhood, please email firstname.lastname@example.org).
The history of the train line in Jerusalem is an old one, though in Jerusalem ‘old’ can sometimes lose meaning. Opened in 1892, the Jaffa-Jerusalem railway was one of the first constructed in what would become Israel, and ran for over 100 years until August 1998. The former station became abandoned for many years until 2013, when it was refurbished to become what locals now refer to as the First Station.
The route itself is littered with references to the old trainline, with posters and plaques depicting images of the old trains in operation as well as descriptions of specific events (for example visits by important dignitaries). There’s also one of the old carriages in the children’s area in the First Station, though it is now used as an office rather than for passengers.
The First Station was where the line used to terminate after arriving in the city (going via the current station in Malcha, which is why the park terminates there). There was discussion of reviving the route for use in the light rail network, but the plans to convert the area into a park won out.
Not much happened with regard to the light rail routes, until around 2016/2017 when plans to build the proposed Blue Line down Emek Refaim were met with fierce resistance from the businesses located there who attempted to divert the path back to the Park HaMesila. At the time of writing, these efforts seem to have had no effect on the municipality’s plans and for now, the park will remain a park.