The city was founded in 1909 by the Yishuv (Jewish residents) as a modern housing estate on the outskirts of the ancient port city of Jaffa (Hebrew: יָפוֹ Yafo), then part of the Jerusalem province of Ottoman Syria. It was at first called 'Ahuzat Bayit' (lit. "building houses", the name of the association which established the neighbourhood), a name changed the following year to 'Tel Aviv'. Its name means "Ancient Hill of Spring". Other Jewish suburbs of Jaffa established outside Jaffa's Old City even before Tel Aviv, eventually became part of Tel Aviv, the oldest among them being Neve Tzedek (est. 1886).
Tel Aviv is named after Theodor Herzl's 1902 novel, Altneuland ("Old New Land"), whose title was translated to Hebrew as Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is the Hebrew title of Theodor Herzl's Altneuland ("Old New Land"), translated from German by Nahum Sokolow. Sokolow had adopted the name of a Mesopotamian site near the city of Babylon mentioned in Ezekiel: "Then I came to them of the captivity at Tel Aviv, that lived by the river Chebar, and to where they lived; and I sat there overwhelmed among them seven days." The name was chosen in 1910 from several suggestions, including "Herzliya". It was found fitting as it embraced the idea of a renaissance in the ancient Jewish homeland. Aviv is Hebrew for "spring", symbolizing renewal, and tel is a man-made mound accumulating layers of civilization built one over the other and symbolizing the ancient.
Although founded in 1909 as a small settlement on the sand dunes north of Jaffa, Tel Aviv was envisaged as a future city from the start. Its founders hoped that in contrast to what they perceived as the squalid and unsanitary conditions of neighbouring Arab towns, Tel Aviv was to be a clean and modern city, inspired by the European cities of Warsaw and Odessa. The marketing pamphlets advocating for its establishment in 1906, wrote:
In this city we will build the streets so they have roads and sidewalks and electric lights. Every house will have water from wells that will flow through pipes as in every modern European city, and also sewerage pipes will be installed for the health of the city and its residents.