Palestinian refugee camp in Amman, 1948
Perhaps no event in history has left a greater mark on Amman than the 1948 Arab-Israeli war that saw the establishment of a Israel and the subsequent exodus of thousands of Palestinians, most of whom crossed the Jordan river to reach the safety of the its east bank. The tremendous impact came in the form of numbers, with Amman’s population exploding from a mere 33,000 in 1947 to a staggering 250,000 in 1952. Refugee camps were scattered all across the city, including Marka (Schneller Camp), Al Wihdat and Al Hussein camps, leaving roughly 30% of Amman covered in tents at one point. Indeed, the Arab Israeli conflict set a new tone for a new city that had yet to come to grips with its own emerging identity. In essence, 1948 would go on to become merely one of many similar transformational events.
The new population of Amman also propelled the development of the city on all levels. On one hand, more housing, schools and clinics were needed and built, contributing to the physical growth of the city. But the new people of Amman also contributed to Amman economically and culturally, hastening the transformation of Amman from town to city.