Cinerama Tell Aviv

61 Yigal Alon Street,
Tel Aviv

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Architects: Aharon Doron

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Cinerama Tell Aviv

Construction of the building began in 1960 with original purpose was a permanent residence for the Ziratron group, which until then performed circus and sports shows and entertainment shows in a circus tent located on Jabotinsky Road in neighboring Ramat-Gan.

When the group that owned the original tent decided to move its operations to a new home on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, it wanted to build a building that resembled the Ramat-Gan tent. Due to a budget problem, work was stopped at the skeleton stage, before the dome was completed, for several years.

In 1964, a businessman named Joseph Epstein purchased the skeleton of the unfinished building, and sought tenants for the building.

Finally, a lease was agreed for the “Sinico” company for the purpose of screening films, and the construction of the dome of the building was completed in the design of the architect Aharon Doron in a different format from the original design.

The first (and only) Cinerama theatre in Israel was finally inaugurated on 14th July 1966 with “The Seven Wonders of the World” presented in 3-strip Cinerama.

In 1968, Epstein went bankrupt and as part of the foreclosure of his companies, the properties went on sale.

In 1969 it was announced that the Israeli Opera had agreed to purchase the building through the state and a donor who later turned out to be the late Meshulam Riklis, but eventually Riklis withdrew from his offer, due to the lengthening of approvals and after a commissioned expert claimed the hall was unsuitable for opera unless extensively renovated.

At the time the Cinerama was inaugurated, the charm of cinema, which was common in the 1950’s, was coming to a temporary (and long) end due to the introduction of television in Israel.

Moreover, the operators of the cinema had hard time finding suitable films for this screening method and most of the films screened in the hall were not Cinerama type.

The cinema closed in 1976 and the building remained unused for about a decade, until Cinema Club opened in 1986.

The building was then purchased by a group of investors who invested capital in building an advanced and modern performance hall, members club and discotheque.

This club also did not survive long, and in its many incarnations the hall also served as a theatre, a conference center, a TV studio and more.

In an optimal seating arrangement, the renewed performance hall could accommodate up to 3,000 people.

The Cinerama building is located in a sought-after office area, near Ayalon Freeway, and for years there were plans to demolish it and build an office building on the site.

In 2016, the building was demolished to make way for three office towers on the site, and in the first phase, the lot became a parking lot.

Contributed by Eli Shavit
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