Since then, the station has fallen into disrepair, and many parts of it are abandoned. But this has allowed the station to take on a new life as a cultural hub.
People with various ethnic and religious backgrounds live and work around the station, and they attend community events within the station. The sense of community in the station is “like no other in Israel,” according to the Guardian.
“It is a place where many peoples and cultures intersect — it’s certainly one of the most diverse spots in the country,” Naomi Zeveloff, a reporter based in Tel Aviv, told Business Insider. “The building is run down, no question, but peel back the layers and there’s so much to discover.”
One of the cultural centers is Yung Yidish — a non-profit organization that aims to preserve Yiddish culture. The center is open Tuesday through Wednesday each week, according to Time Out.
Stav Pinto is a circus artist who practices her acrobatics in the station. Pinto uses her circus talents to teach life skills to children with disabilities and meets with an informal circus group on Monday evenings.
Another artist, Tamar Lehman, uses space at the station to practice dancing and playing the accordion. “I felt this building is just like the people I work with — they may appear totally confused within themselves, not understood, bizarre, but the more you learn about the people and their inner structure you slowly become more familiar with their inner world, with all its craziness, and you see the beauty,” Lehman told Reuters.
But Tel Aviv’s bus station isn’t just for practice, it’s also the stage for “Seven” — a performance by actors from the Mystorin Theatre Ensemble — which uses all seven floors of the station as a stage.
“It’s special because I can find everything we need to buy,” she said of the station, which is home to a Filipino food market called Makati Cabalen. The market is open seven days a week, according to Time Out.
While it remains filled with art, the station functions a little differently during times of war. Aside from being a transit hub for soldiers, the station is a gathering point, bomb shelter, and command center when it needs to be, like for Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012.
According to the Jerusalem Post, a bat colony took over an abandoned terminal at the station. The terminal was closed off during construction in the ’80s before the station was even opened, and the bats were drawn to it because it resembles a cave — the fruit bat’s natural habitat.
The bats were drawn to Tel Aviv because of the city’s abundance of fruit trees — they stayed because food is easier to find in a city, which saved them time and energy. The bats are harmless, according to The Jerusalem Post.
Although the station has acquired a bad reputation, not everyone agrees with it, including Zeveloff, who commutes through the station regularly. “The bus station is so much more colorful, dynamic, and fascinating than its reputation among many Israelis would have it,” she told Business Insider.
According to the Jerusalem Post, tearing down the building would have to include getting permission from some 800 store owners, as well as from the environmental authorities.
Aside from this, local architects warned the Times of Israel that tearing down the concrete of the building would be virtually impossible, and it would leave a thick coating of dust that could choke all of Tel Aviv for weeks. Tour guides say the building will remain in Tel Aviv for at least another ten years.