November 3, 1878
Petah Tikvah (Gateway of Hope), today Israel’s 5th largest city, is established by a group of religious Jews desiring to leave Jerusalem and establish an agricultural moshav. The group had originally sought out land near Jericho for their settlement but were unable to get consent from the Ottoman authorities to transfer the ownership of the land parcel.
After being unsuccessful in obtaining their desired land near Jericho, the group purchased a 3,400 dunam (unit of land area used in the Ottoman Empire; 1 dunam equals 1,000 square meters) piece of land from a Greek owner near the Yarkon River and next to the Arab village Mulabbis.
The initial settlement was short lived due to disappointing harvests and an outbreak of malaria. In 1882, there were only 10 houses and 66 residents. Soon after as conditions deteriorated due to malaria and other health hazards, the residents abandoned the settlement. In 1883, a new group of immigrants from Russia, known as BILU settled in Petah Tikvah and were soon aided by Edmund Rothschild who provided funds to drain the area’s swamps. The draining of the swamps enabled the new residents to plant citrus groves which in turn led to economic development and more residents. By 1900, there were 818 residents in Petah Tikvah.
The photo above shows pioneers draining Petah Tikvah’s swamps in 1906.