Ben Yehuda Street was a main street in Jerusalem even before the founding of the state. As a busy thoroughfare, it has been a prime target for terrorist bombings.
In 1983, the street was closed to automobile traffic. In Hebrew it is called a midrachov (pedestrian mall – a Hebrew neologism formed from the words "midracha" [sidewalk] and "rechov" [street]. Many of the businesses cater to tourists. The street is lined with souvenir and Judaica shops and sidewalk cafes, and street musicians play there throughout the day. It was long considered the "secular heart of Jerusalem," but since the 2000s, disaffected Orthodox Jewish youth have joined the mix of tourists and locals.