The neighborhood was established in the late 1960s by Rabbi Mordechai Elefant, in co-operation with the Jewish Agency for Israel, to encourage American Jewish immigration to Israel. The small neighborhood is usually associated with the larger, adjoining neighborhoods of Kiryat Mattersdorf to the west or Unsdorf to the northeast.
Kiryat Itri was established in 1967 by the Israel Torah Research Institute (ITRI) of New York City, under the leadership of Rabbi Mordechai Elefant, institute dean. Elefant established Yeshivas Itri in the southeast of the city the following year. The housing development was undertaken in co-operation with the Jewish Agency for Israel, to encourage American Jewish immigration to Israel. Construction costs exceeded IL30 million (US$7.5 million, or $61,000,000 in current dollar terms).
The neighborhood was planned along the northern edge of the mountain plateau on which central Jerusalem lies, adjacent to the newly built neighborhood of Kiryat Mattersdorf. Its viability was threatened before construction even began, when, in the spring of 1967, it was found that the site abutted a rock quarry to the south in Romema, which bombarded the area with dust and noise from explosions. Elefant and the owners of the quarry appeared before a district planning committee to discuss the relocation of the quarry.
Kiryat Itri was planned for 250 families. Three high-rise apartment buildings were erected on the south side of the street, and five low-rise apartment buildings on the north side. The flats were small by American standards. A supermarket and postal agency occupy the ground floor of 14 Sorotzkin, the westernmost building. The main street, Rechov Sorotzkin, is named after Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin.
The first residents, comprising 85 individuals and 65 families, arrived in Israel from the United States in August 1968. Singles and young people were temporarily lodged in a former British hospital in Beit Safafa and in the Orient House hotel to await completion of their apartments, while families were lodged in rented homes. Occupancy began in 1969.
- B'tzeil HaChachma
- Ohel David V'Elimelech Maimon
- Ohel Sarah-Leah
Notable residents of Kiryat Itri include Rabbi Yitzchok Ezrachi, a rosh yeshiva of the Mir yeshiva; infamous Jewish radical Rabbi Meir Kahane (1932–1990); Rabbi Nathan Kamenetsky, an instructor at Yeshivas Itri; and Rabbi Naftali HaKohen Rot, Rav of the Chabad community of Kiryat Mattersdorf–Itri.
- "First Group of U.S. Jews Leaves for Israel to Settle in Orthodox Township". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 27 August 1968. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
- Eldor, Rafael (7 September 1969). "אלפי עולים דתיים מארה"ב יבואו להתיישב בקריות הדתיות" [Thousands of Religious Immigrants from the United States Come to Settle in Religious Townships]. Maariv (in Hebrew). p. 17. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
- Kahane, Libby (2008). Rabbi Meir Kahane: His life and thought. Vol. 1. Institute for the Publication of the Writings of Rabbi Meir Kahane. p. 172. ISBN 9655240088.
- Sever, Yechiel (21 November 2009). "HaRav Mordechai Elefant zt"l". Dei'ah VeDibur. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
- Goldstein, Dov (30 August 1968). "הרב אלפנט ו'העולים שלו'" [Rabbi Elefant and 'His Immigrants']. Maariv (in Hebrew). p. 15. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
- Limor, Yechiel (2 April 1967). "התכניות להקים קריה לעולים בבירה עולות ב...אבק בגלל מחצבה סמוכה" [Plans to Erect a Neighborhood for Immigrants in the Capital Go Up in ... Dust, Due to a Nearby Quarry]. Maariv (in Hebrew). p. 16. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
- "קבלת קהל דואר ישראל ירושלים" [Israel Post Jerusalem Opening Hours] (in Hebrew). Retrieved 25 June 2015.
- Eisenberg, Ronald L. (2005). The Streets of Jerusalem: Who, What, Why. Devora Publishing. p. 355. ISBN 1932687548.
- Kahn, Betzalel (29 September 2004). "New Building for Yeshivas Lakewood-Jerusalem Dedicated". Dei'ah VeDibur. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
- Kahane (2008), p. 380.
- "Rabbi Mordechai Yitzchok Friedman Speaks at Rabbi Meir Kahane's Memorial". derkeiler.com. 13 November 2006. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
- Litvak, Meir (2006). Middle Eastern Societies and the West: Accommodation or clash of civilizations?. The Moshe Dayan Center. p. 275. ISBN 9652240737.
- "כינוסי התורה בירושלים: מאות שוחרי תורה השתתפו" [Torah Rally in Jerusalem: Hundreds of supporters of Torah participate] (in Hebrew). shturem.net. 2 May 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
- "המועצה הדתית ירושלים" [The Jerusalem Religious Council] (in Hebrew). Ministry of Religious Services. Retrieved 22 June 2015.