Also, courtesy of Howard M. Sachar's A History of Israel, I have a historical note on the neighborhood. During the mid-nineteenth century, the economy of Jerusalem Jewry depended on remittances from abroad, and life in the community was dominated by conservative rabbis who had succeeded in driving many students out of a new secular school to prepare people for modern occupations. Some people, however, were determined to make the community self-sufficient:
"In 1869 the leader of this group, Joel Moshe Salomon, and six of his friends bought a tract of land outside the city wall. Later entitled Nachlat Shi'vah (Plot of the Seven), the purchase represented Jerusalem Jewry's first voluntary, self-financed undertaking beyond the ancient Jewish quarter. In 1875 another group of Jerusalemites procured a second tract on the other side of the wall, to be known as Mea Sh'arim (Hundred Gates). These ventures signified more than a desire to escape the congestion of the Old City; they were motivated, as well, by a determination to engage in productive life and labor free from the immediate scrutiny of the Jerusalem rabbinate."