Consider the Old City, with its stone-paved alleyways and ancient parapets, its synagogues, mosques and churches. The "Old City of Jerusalem" – the very term tells the senses to think archeology, history, religion, politics. Rarely do we consider it in the context of modern urban planning and development. Yet, if we want to take the ancient into the future we had better pay attention to the delicate fabric of the earth, the stone, the populations here and add "conservation" to the list of attributes pertaining to the Old City.
With that aim in mind, the JIIS Jerusalem research team, led by Israel Kimhi, spent two years analyzing the "visual basin" that abuts the Old City, examining its historical, physical and socioeconomic characteristics. In their latest publication, The Upper Kidron Valley: Conservation and Development in the Visual Basin of the Old City of Jerusalem, they offer policy recommendations for the future development and conservation of the area. This is, in fact, the core of Jerusalem, the point from which the city developed. Traditionally home to a diverse population, it has experienced the ravages of accelerated urbanization processes – and it is time to pay heed.
The basin, Kimhi explains, "is bordered by Mount Scopus ridge to the north, the Mount of Olives and the Mount of Anointment to the east, the Hill of Evil Counsel (Armon Hanatziv) to the south, and the national watershed to the east. The area of our study includes most of the important historical and holy sites in Jerusalem. It is extremely sensitive to rapid modern urban changes and any planning and development must be undertaken with great sensitivity if we are to maintain this unique gem."