Danger: Crumbling Brutalism

Since meetings today wrapped up just before sunset, I decided to drop off my laptop and wander back out toward the beach, heading away from the Port this time to see where that direction led me. I clambered on some lighthouse rocks, took some boring photos of sailboats and skylines to pass the time, and then boom, the light hit this hotel just right.

"Ta da, done for the day!" I cheerfully announced to myself. Extra credit: take a different route back to the apartment? I saw that immediately to my left was a large concrete staircase, vaguely in the direction of home. Probably there would be some kind of amazing view of the Mediterranean involved. I bounded up each step, propelled by joie de vivre.

When I reached the top I staggered, feeling like I had just landed in another planet.

It was a massive open plaza of concrete, with an even massiver building of squared passageways looming over it. Bloated concrete mushroom umbrellas dotted the landscape. Despite its busy walkways and occasional open stores, something about it put me on edge and made my heart hurt at the same time. The active storefronts contrasted with the vast cold, dense emptiness like a suddenly wandering eyeball on a dead body. Where was I?

Turns out I was at Atarim Square, built in 1971 to house over 200 businesses but "nowadays, considered one of the most unsuccessful projects built in Tel Aviv."

Another funny thing about this space: I thought I had been in it much longer than I actually was, and when I got home I couldn't believe that so few of my images were from Atarim — apparently my eyes took more photos than my shutter finger did. Spiral staircases to nowhere; deep wells in the cement leading to dimly flickering parking garages. Graffiti and infinite passageways into darkness, all very appropriately set to the muted echo soundtrack to Nightmare, a haunted horror maze attraction that's taken residence just downstairs.

Yeah, I left before the sun set. Who even needs ghost actors and projected monsters when you have pillars of concrete?