Vintage Rue 61 Ibn Sina

There are lots and lots of streets in Beirut, and (from what I've seen) they're all numbered. Some of them also have a name. Of the streets that are named, only a few are famous enough that people generally know and use the street's name. Because street names really aren't in use, directions rely on other things--you'll be told that your destination is near this or that business or restaurant, near thus and such square, plaza, or major round-about.

So I was intrigued by this old street sign, from the collection of photos of Beirut taken in 1965 that I linked to last time.

I decided to track this place down.

It took me a very long time to find the street, frankly, much longer than it should have. Ibn Sina is a major route that connects the Corniche with downtown and major highways that lead to other parts of the city. It's a one-way road at least six lanes across. People double park on both sides of it, which can reduce this thoroughfare to a mere one or two lanes. I'm almost never on foot here, because it's not really a destination. Honestly, I didn't even know this stretch of road had a name or a number.

These days, though, there isn't a single sign that actually lists the name 'Ibn Sina'. Instead, this is what you'll find:

And there aren't many of these either. I really hoped I'd be able to track down the exact place in the vintage photo, but I wasn't. But at least I found the street. At least it is still there.


  1. I lovee this! it feels like you were tracking your own memories but really you were tracking someone elses memory of Beirut. It's this really weird symbolic thing and its rather touching.. if that's the right word.

    I hope Beirut is treating you well.

  2. Well that was an interesting sleuth exercise.

  3. And the barbed wire !

    Really like this one, seeking hidden places from the past is a favorite pastime of mine too.

    And it is really funny about how directions are given in Beirut. I wanted to take flowers to the mother of a Lebanese colleague of mine at work, instead of giving me an address, he told me to find the Chinese restaurant building. Where there is no more Chinese restaurant, but there once was, and the remains of a sign are still on the side of the building. And people in the neighborhood were able to direct me there based just on that... fabulous. (near Mazraa Blvd & Verdun St.)

    Am truly enjoying your wanderings here. Hope one day to know a little more about what you do in Beirut. My sister in law who lives there will be in France soon for some vacation, am looking forward to hearing her tales of life there.

  4. I LOVE the vintage photo..... You should show your "old" photos somewhere in Beirut. Go to a newspaper or something..... Keep walking!:)
    Anyway, have a nice weekend!

  5. Gunn, I wish the photos were mine, but they're not--I'm fascinated by the changes.

    Owen, i hope you have a great visit with your sister in law. Great story about delivering flowers. That's exactly how it is.