Due to its unique geographical position, Istanbul’s economic and political influence spread over a wide area. Istanbul lies at a key intersection of strategic sea-lanes, and connects two continents, working as a hinge-city. The city was established on firm land to the north of the Marmara Sea, which connects the Aegean and Black Seas, and towards the southern end of the Bosphorus, straits that have undisputed geo-strategic importance. Like the Marmara Sea, Istanbul is a place where the cultural ecologies of the Aegean and Black Seas intertwine. Including the Balkans and Asia Minor, it can be considered to be in the economic and political heart Eastern Europe. As the meeting point of passageways and activities that join together many cities spread over two continents, Istanbul is also a vital bridge for numerous social networks. This complex formula has resulted in both its fortune and misfortune. Istanbul is a port city, a military city, a political city that was the center of two empires, a commercial city which served as a meeting point for transnational colonial networks, a financial city, an educational city with numerous secondary and higher education institutions, and also a cultural city that functioned as the center of ethno-religious diversity. In the history of the city, these features often intertwine. Istanbul has collected all sorts of complicated and diverse features that resist singular definitions of the city; these diverse features often interact with each other through symbiosis, allowing different historical layers to survive continuously. It is a rare example of a city in which historical and geographical features are represented in both eclectic and synthetic forms and integrated (assemblage). Looking at the transformation of the city throughout history, we encounter a different Istanbul in every period. Istanbul is the sum of all these geographical and socio-historical differences. In this paper, focusing on Istanbul’s recent history, I will attempt to explain the city’s comprehensive sociological transformation over the last century.


Demographic mobility in recent Ottoman history has determined the new formation of Istanbul. The demographic movements , intertwined with late nineteenth and early twentieth century socio-technological developments to form the main features of Istanbul in the Republican period. Demographic changes include the internal structure of population movements, the formation of public health (sanitation) institutions, large population movements caused by wars and geographic separatism, and ethno-religious components of the population. Socio-technological processes define the versatile effects of techno-industrial revolutions, which took place one after another. The city’s history can be better understood by explaining how it was transformed by economic, spatial, cultural, and administrative processes, thus providing a context for socio-historical change. Among those processes which transformed the city by following predetermined and original routes are: large fires and subsequent periods of reconstruction, the spread of railways, the renewal of harbors, the introduction of the telegraph, telephone and electricity to urban life, the attempt to shape the urban macro-form with motorized vehicles, and the evolution of communication technologies. The cultural transformations that surrounded the modernization of the Ottoman State and the Turkish Republiccan also be understood in terms of the decisions that shaped conflicting political and administrative structures. This article will discuss the city’s recent history, which was shaped by conflicts and breaksthat carry it from the past to the future..1

As the capital of a multinational empire, which was damaged by hegemonic disputes between the great powers of the nineteenth century, Istanbul found itself in the eye of a storm. As one of the most prominent and fascinating cities during military-agrarian empires, Istanbul had to keep pace with the innovations of this period. It represented not only one of the cities that were involved in manufacturing for the progressive capitalist markets of the time, from which the industrial revolution emanated, but also witnessed different types of settlements typical of growing economies. The capitals of modern nation-states, as seen in both their architecture and planning, were venues for symbolic power in this period. When the problem of subsistence provisions was eradicated following a boom in production, the number of settlements accommodating large populations started to increase rapidly. Growing and urbanizing populations in Europe and America reflected the birth of a new city form.2 The most tangible results of this urbanization were coal-based industrialization and the pollution of urban environments, which rendered these areas unlivable, and inadequate infrastructure, which posed threats to public health. Not only the administrative system structure and the urban services, but also the power and responsibilities of institutions, as part of a long learning process, took on new shapes over time. The increase of urban utopias as an alternative to capitalist urban development schemes can be thought of as another form of opposition to the social order found in coal-dependent, industrial cities. For cities in which capitalist expansion was dominant, calls for social reforms and efforts emerged within such a framework. Urban management and the formation of local institutions enabled detailed population censuses, the emergence of new bureaucratic structures for public health policies and the start of modern municipal services.3

Accompanied by the steam machine, the rotating spinning wheel, and innovations in metallurgy, the first major Industrial Revolution flourished in a number of British cities. Following the arrival of propertyless peasants, new societies were developed in locations where industrial labor was organized. Three major actors of the industrialized city were the mines, factories, and railways. Poor working conditions for workers, including overcrowded living quarters, health problems and the exploitation of child labor, were typical of this century. The growing productive power and populations of Manchester, Chicago, London, Detroit, Paris, New York, and the metropolitan Rhine-Ruhr regions led to the institutions and structures of industrial modernity. Comprehensive transformations were shaped with the developments of the “Second Industrial Revolution” which began in the 1860s. With the emergence of electricity, the internal combustion engine, steel casting, the telegraph, the telephone, the scientific production of chemicals, the petrochemical industry, and motorized vehicles, the nature of cities underwent a radical transformation.4 Although major production powers were found in cities like Manchester and Chicago, Paris was the undisputed capital of nineteenth-century modernity in terms of cultural development. Representing the ideology of “creative destruction” with the construction of giant boulevards, arcades, large exhibition areas, gentrification practices and new construction techniques, Paris was the fundamental source of inspiration for many other cities, acting as it did as a large laboratory of modern zoning.5

Throughout these decades, Istanbul was an imperial center dominated by small factories and trade as the modes of production. The city was also able to maintain its effective political importance as one of the largest cities of Eurasia for many centuries. The period from the French Revolution to the devolution of the Ottoman Empire was a time in which geopolitical and economic power became concentrated in Western Europe. Istanbul was in every sense at the center of an empire that was struggling with political turmoil, due in part to the emergence of the “Oriental problem,” a phenomenon which was invented in the aftermath of the Congress of Vienna. Due to wars caused by the growing presence of Russia, the Ottomans lost a significant part of their territories, and imperial finances were dragged into an irreversible bottleneck. Following the wars in the Balkans and Caucasus, major waves of migration occurred toward the interior regions of the Ottoman territory. One of the most significant reasons behind the increasing presence of Russia lay in the political importance of Istanbul, home to two strategic passages for Tsarist Russia; in addition, Russia saw itself as the natural continuation of Byzantine Orthodox rule. In every instance of war that resulted from Russian pressure, the first port of entry for the Muslim population was always Istanbul. In the second half of the nineteenth century Russian pressure reached its highest level, and Istanbul was affected along with other Balkan cities. Russia successfully forced the Ottoman State to retreat from the northern and eastern Black Sea territories. The United Kingdom, on the other hand, had colonial aims on Arab lands and other lands in the warmer sea regions in the southern Ottoman geographies.

In order to stop the power of these two great empires from encroaching on Ottoman influence, different political tools – primarily Pan-Islamism - were developed. The caliphate was transformed into an efficient Istanbul-based institution, which influenced the large Muslim populations located in both Russia and British colonies. Beyond simply conveying the sultan’s political identity, the term caliph also began to be effectively used as a title with deep religious symbolism. With its discourse of Islamic Unity, Istanbul became the most important political center of the Islamic world until the fall of the Ottoman State. Along with Cairo, Istanbul once more became a meeting place for prominent Muslim intellectuals and religious scholars from many parts of the world.6

1- Istanbul map presented by engineer Hübner to Sultan Abdülhamid II (Istanbul University, Rare Books and Special Collections Library, Maps Section)

In addition to the coercive effects of political pressures, problems of infrastructure, transportation and administration also allowed the idea of a redeveloping Istanbul to mature throughout the territory. From this aspect, there are a number of narratives and works that are dominated by the Orientalist models in relation to nineteenth-century Istanbul. Although innovations in the metropolises of Western Europe were pursued actively and attempts were made to comprehend them in relation to discourses of advancement, such developments did not reduce the political significance of Istanbul. During this period, Istanbul still maintained its central importance, in particular for Arab intellectuals who had been to or lived in Istanbul and who were also in touch with the important metropolises of Europe of the period. This perception of centrality, nevertheless, gradually transformed into an idea of decentralization in the last years of the empire.7

2- Panaroma of Istanbul in the period of Sultan Abdülhamid II (Guilaume Berggren, Constantinople, from the archives of M. Hilmi Şenalp)


Istanbul is a unique city that presents a contradictory narrative of modernity alongside the instances of intertwined experiences, practices and structures. The city’s unique substance are composed of changing population structures, migrations, wars, the development of new means of transportation, infrastructural problems in the wake of technological changes, changes in housing and street development, development of the suburbs, changes in consumer culture, changes in household structures and the growth of educational institutions. This section focuses on these issues, some of which eventually were to be carried over into the Republican period of the city.

Both the information and financial resources required for the administration and investments in the infrastructure were limited by mass immigration. For large-scale investments, direct dependence on foreign investment was a problem. Examples illustrating these changes were mostly embodied in large buildings, palaces, new army barracks and bridges, which represented the bureaucratic modernization of the state. In particular, the destruction of wooden structures by large fires led to new zoning regulations. Although many zoning regulations were introduced during this process, their implementation and scale was limited. By comparing the state of Istanbul with the comprehensive transformations in cities such as London and Paris, urban historians of the nineteenth-century viewed zoning attempts in Istanbul as generally well-intentioned, but lacked in scientific foundations, indecisive and void of the bureaucratic vision that was required for changes in infrastructure.

During this period, significant changes due to the Industrial Revolution in European and American cities, resulted in poor quality housing and required r higher infrastructure standards. While the improvement of urban zones was gathering pace in many countries, the ideas of the counter urbanization movement started to take root in applicable fields. As cities grew outwards and, owing to the construction of railways, suburban settlements formed, an increasing distance between residential areas and workplaces developed. By developing an approach to urban planning, which stressed the human scale, Howard’s radial city garden town planning idea was first applied in England. His model of urban development was opposed to grid planning and was later implemented in many places throughout the United States. Again, the phenomenon of urban agglomeration became more questionable. Particularly in the UK, the idea of the extensive city and single housing was beginning to find strong intellectual and bureaucratic support. Besides this kind of organic urbanism, linear urbanism was developing. This model derived inspiration from the idea of machinery by analyzing the transportation problems of the industrial city and land ownership issues, striving to provide new models in their stead. Eugène Henard developed a roundabout system for the growing problem of traffic, especially in the zoning of old cities, and in adopting a priority vehicle routing system, he created one of the first urban plans with motorized cities in mind. Switching from Taylorism to Fordism, the industrial city experienced a period of explosive growth.8

Also during this period, bureaucratic institutions that had been renewed in the nineteenth century experienced meaningful changes in both the field of architectural styles and the mechanisms of local administration. Although Istanbul did not experience an industrial revolution along the same scale as Western Europe, it sought harmony between its newly formed institutions and systems of modernity. As the capital city to the empire, it was not only a political and bureaucratic center, but also the most important financial and economic region. It was additionally a communication center, being home to many press institutions; in general Istanbul was akin to a social laboratory in which the effects and the results of changes throughout the Ottoman State were strongly felt. Mass migrations that occurred after the Crimean War, the ‘93 War (1877-1878 Ottoman-Russian War), and the Balkan Wars were influential on Ottoman State, shaping the nationalist ideology of the prospective Turkish Republic and the ethno-religious demographic structure of Istanbul. After these great battles, the arrival of large Muslim populations towards the end of the century transformed Istanbul into a city largely dominated by a Muslim Turkish population. The city managed to also retain its cosmopolitanism, with 40% of the population comprised of Greek and Armenian Orthodox Christians, Jews, Latinos and other ethnic and religious groups. As new bureaucratic classes began to rise and become effective in politics and management, there also emerged an urban middle class. The turbulent sociopolitical heritage of the nineteenth century, representing a nationalist awakening, influenced the relationships between ethnic and religious communities, resulting in the continuation of tragic migration waves throughout the twentieth century.9

The empire’s fate was sealed at this time by a power struggle between the great powers over the establishment of a policy that was to be both delicate and utilitarian. A gradual pressure was placed on the policy of maintaining coexistence in the empire due to increasing international tensions. By the end of the century and after failing to bear the increasing costs of the war, the Ottoman state’s finances were under the control of an international consortium. Infrastructural reform efforts would be confined within the boundaries of this financial bondage. Throughout the nineteenth century, there was a major gap between the management of the increasing population, the pressure of transition to infrastructural changes experienced in other world cities and obtaining the requisite finances to adapt to socio-technological changes. The urban reform movement led by Haussmann in the Paris of the Third Republic was only possible through both authoritarian management and the innovation of new financial instruments. The so-called Haussmannization soon reached Istanbul, as it did other world cities. However, it was not possible to conduct an urban reform program of such authoritarian modernism given the inadequate financial and legal infrastructure of the Ottoman State. Haussmann arrived in Istanbul near the end of his career in 1873, but then left the city having had little influence in terms of planning or zoning policy, apart from suggesting that a financial structure similar to Düyun-i Umumiye (Ottoman Public Debt Administration) be implemented.10

From ancient times the city was composed of four parts; in addition to the area of the walled city, there was also Eyüp, Üsküdar and Pera. Kadıköy and the Bosphorus villages were outside the traditional definition of Istanbul. Socio-economic developments in the twentieth century gradually left Eyüp behind the others, with Pera standing out in all aspects, owing to its cosmopolitanism. Following the establishment of the feshane (the fez factory) and baruthane (gun-powder factory) the area around the Golden Horn developed into a medium-sized manufacturing area.11 In the aftermath of great fires, the materials with which Istanbul’s houses were built began to be reconsidered and changed. In 1865, when the large Hocapaşa fire destroyed a third of the walled city, a quest for a new zoning policy began, attracting international experts to the Ottoman territory. Despite many unsuccessful applications and poor initiatives, it was in this evolutionary period that the first city maps that were to help Istanbul in urban planning emerged. A map prepared by von Moltke during the reign of Mahmud II was followed by maps made by Huber and Goad in the reign of Abdulhamid II; and these were soon followed by the German Blue Maps during the İttihat ve Terakki (Union and Progress Period) era and Pervititch during the early Republic.

3- The view of New Mosque from Galata Bridge (Yıldız Albums)

As the country’s first major cadastral maps, these maps influenced the planning and urban zoning activities of the subsequent period. These developments were intertwined with the economic and political history of the city. Having lost control over the budget after Duyun-i Umumiye, the state shifted its financial administrative center from the walled city to Pera and Galata. With the construction of Dolmabahçe and Yıldız Palaces in the second half of the nineteenth century, important segments of political and bureaucratic operations were also moved out of the walled city. When diplomatic corps were deployed in Pera, the district began to stand out politically as well. The Grande Rue de Pera had already started to incorporate and embody European fashions of the day, with its European style shops, stores, cafes, offices, hotels, operas and circuses. Being Westernized and integrated with the capitalist economy, the first forms of new Istanbul’s urban outer shell emerged in Galata and Pera.12

4- Eminönü and Üsküdar on the other side (Yıldız Albums)

In the aftermath of fires, wooden structures in Galata were replaced with stonework and multi-story brick apartment buildings. For modern zoning practices in later years, the experiences of planning, parceling and the construction of apartments in Galata provided a model. As a center for companies and corporations importing technology from abroad, Bankalar Street (Voyvoda) in Karaköy became the habitat for major banks and financial institutions, thus forming a business hub for this period. The power of Eminönü-Sirkeci as a central business district thus started to shift towards Galata and Karaköy.13 A few significant transportation developments occurred during this period in order to overcome the challenges posed by the Bosphorus and Golden Horn on the urban development of the city. Distinct from the wooden bridges over the Golden Horn, an iron bridge was built between Unkapanı and Azapkapı; in addition to this, the Şirket-i Hayriye started to operate regularly from the year of its establishment in 1851. These developments were significant in that they brought into interaction groups of people who had previously been separated by the city’s natural barriers. While 8,500,000 people traveled with the Şirket-i Hayriye in 1880, this number increased to 10,000,000 in 1905, and 16,500,000 in 1912.14

5- From Grand Bazaar to Sultanahmet (Yıldız Albums)

The establishment of the Sixth Daire-i belediye (current Beyoğlu Municipality), considered to be the first example of a modern municipality, its changes over time, and its final institutional form could only occur in the second half of the nineteenth century. The existence of this municipality eventually served as an important source of inspiration for the municipality in the Republican period. Between 1863 and 1873, the municipal administration tore down the Genoese walls, paved new roads and started to expand the Grande Rue de Pera; the world’s second subway, connecting Galata and Karaköy, was constructed in 1875. Moreover, a great deal of street landscaping was carried out after the major Pera fire in 1870. In addition to these developments in urban transportation, a 355-kilometer railway line was laid out between Istanbul and Edirne in 1871, followed by a 91-kilometer line in 1873 between Haydarpaşa and İzmit. These two lines were united in Istanbul; they connected the city to a wide geography along the east-west axis via a new means of transportation. Opened after a long period of discussion and exploration, this new longer line passed through the gardens of Topkapı Palace before culminating at the Sirkeci station. 15 Sirkeci now became the final stop for Orient Express services coming from Europe. The Damascus-Hejaz railway was completed with self-sustained resources owing to mobilization carried out in the Empire. A further line connecting Istanbul to Baghdad was completed in 1898. At the end of the nineteenth century, investments were made to enable the completion of railway lines linking Istanbul to Europe and Baghdad. Thus, an Istanbul-based transportation system was offered as an alternative to maritime travel and camel caravans.

At the end of the nineteenth century, renovations were carried out on docks whose technology had become outdated. In 1892, as with the construction of many projects listed above, the first modern harbor construction was permitted with privileges granted to foreign companies. The Istanbul Rıhtım, Dok ve Antrepo (Dock and Warehouse) Company was granted for eighty-five years the privilege to build docks in Galata, Sarayburnu, Sirkeci and the Golden Horn.. The Galata pier was completed in 1895 by reclaiming land from the sea. The Sirkeci pier, however, lagged behind owing to the accidental collapse of the construction site in 1896, which resulted in parts of the site falling into the sea. The Sarayburnu and Sirkeci docks were completed in 1900 by filling soil into the shores of the sea. As a result of the increase in trade activities on the Galata pier, which was the most important of the new piers, additional warehouse buildings were built. Two warehouses were built in 1910, and three more were built in 1928, making a total of five. The dock area was broadened considerably with the construction of a 600-meter long dock in Salıpazarı and multi-story warehouses. The construction of dock facilities in Haydarpaşa started with a foreign company in 1899; these came into operation in 1903. The 450-meter berth and many annexes to the Haydarpaşa Pier were further renovated and broadened in 1953; the pier took on its current appearance in 1967. Due to the policy of nationalizing foreign companies during the Republican Period, a foreign company, which first began work at Haydarpaşa, was affiliated with the İstanbul Liman İşleri Umum Müdürlüğü (Istanbul Docks Department) after being nationalized in December 1934. The Haydarpaşa Pier was transferred to the Railway Administration in 1927.16 These developments in the field of transportation and logistics were instructive in terms of urban planning and administration in the second half of the nineteenth century. A large part of these major investments made during the reign of Abdulhamid II were undertaken with the privileges granted to foreign companies.

The relatively late arrival of electricity into Istanbul, in 1911, transformed the city, particularly in respect to street lighting and the laying of the first electric tram line. After electricity became available in the Tunnel, the annual number of passengers rose from 3,000,000 to nearly 12,000,000. After the establishment of the electric tram, Cadde-i Kebir lost its appeal and the center of the city’s attraction turned to the areas around the Galata port and Karaköy. At this time, both commercial and social relations between Eminönü and Galata intensified. With the arrival of the electric tram in Şişli-Tatavla and Teşvikiye, the development of apartment buildings started to be seen in the residential texture of new urban areas. Led by the district of Galata, a new model of social life that was conducive to apartment life developed in these areas.17 During the late Ottoman period, the city grew in regions beyond the Historical Peninsula. Outside the city walls, suburban areas started to grow in Kazlıçeşme, Ayvansaray and the regions of Makriköy (Bakırköy) and Yeşilköy (Ayestefanos) along the railway line. The city spread to Tophane and Ortaköy in Galata and Pera, and flourished towards Teşvikiye and Nişantaşı on the other side of Dolmabahçe. The villages along Bosphorus began to grow and become integrated with the city; on the Asian side, Göztepe, Bostancı, Kızıltoprak and Erenköy, affiliated with Üsküdar and Kadıköy, appeared as new style suburbs. Another interesting point was that as economic prosperity increased there was a tendency of the population to migrate from the walled city to these regions. Both the Golden Horn coast, with its concentration of industry and old-fashioned residences, and the walled city, which struggled with frequent fires, lost their appeal.18

In these periods, the structure of families also began to transform. The structure of families in Istanbul was of course different from the family structure of rural populations dominant all over the country. In the late Ottoman period the average size of families in Istanbul, the way the marriages were carried out, and the fertility rates diverged sharply from the rest of Turkey. In parallel with European urbanization trends, low fertility was observed in Istanbul from the late nineteenth century. The average age of women at marriage increased significantly over time. These sociological changes were felt especially in Muslim households. Over time, economic transformations also affected the average size of families in Istanbul. Istanbul households became smaller on average than the rest of the country, in other words, “becoming less complicated.” Due to economic reasons, the age of men at marriage also increased, which was an important factor in decreasing fertility rates. Many changes that are generally thought to have begun with the Republic actually were clearly visible in the late Ottoman period, when Istanbul was clearly distinguished from the rest of Anatolia. In parallel with these occurrences, from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, European consumer goods began to fill shops in Pera, and their advertisements started to appear regularly in the press. As a result, a decisive consumer group for cultural commodities, such as magazines, newspapers and books emerged. As the everyday life habits of the Westernized upper classes began to change the culture of the city, they also started to indicate gradually intensifying identity crises throughout the territory. For example, satires on arranged marriages among the upper classes can be seen in Şinasi’s texts from the 1860s. While the discreet charms of romantic love as the basis of marriage infiltrated urban culture during this period, it was exposed to strong criticism from sections of society which were devoid of the possibilities and life conditions necessary to maintain such emotional investments.19

6- Kasımpaşa and Little Cemetery down from Tepebaşı (Yıldız Albums)

7- Galata Bridge and Eminönü (Yıldız Albums)

In a striking commentary on this cultural shifts of this period, changes in the late Ottoman era were examined under the concept of the concept of “over-Westernization”.20 The focus of this concept is Istanbul. From this aspect, in the novels of the period ideological and political transformations, the search for identity and crises of the late Ottoman period can easily be seen in depictions of everyday life. These novels portray the social status of women, the spread of romantic love and the Westernization of upper class men; in other words, they depict the development of civilizing habits in the sense of Elias. In time, the fact that Westernization impelled Ottoman upper classes to make an identity preference (Tanpınar’s significant “civilizational conversion” analysis), led to the spread of an identity crisis in daily life throughout diverse social environments. The protagonist of Recaizade Mahmud Ekrem’s Araba Sevdası, Bihruz Bey, is a typical example of the overly Westernized European style “snob.” This figure evaluates every situation he is faced with a perception typically found in the Westernized upper classes, and he overtly sneers at traditions and “old” culture. He does not live mixed with people, he moves a residence close to a modern park to be built in Çamlıca. Bihruz not only represents a strong alienation from “traditional” culture, but also reproduces an internalized discourse and practices invented in the Orient. This social figure (i.e. the European style snob) also illustrates the first formation of dual discourses among both nationalist elites and nativists. It also presages the coming cultural conflict and the identity community search, which would eventually surface in relation to the political struggle and the discourses of daily life. Similar social figures seen in the period of Russian modernization shed light on this different modernity developing in the immediate vicinity of Europe.

The birth of the Ottoman gentleman represents a change in atmosphere from within the palace and high bureaucracy, and also nascent social power relations. Simultaneously, it gives us a picture of sharp cultural polarization. “Istanbul’s Muslim population, who still lived as part of traditional Ottoman culture, hated and were afraid of both Beyoğlu, which was gradually improving across the Golden Horn, and its residents, who sneered at them with the insolent remarks of over-confident people.”21 The eclecticism of the Tanzimat and the cosmopolitanism of the Meşrutiyet laid claims of building common life ethics and tackling increasingly prevalent identity crises. Istanbul’s uncommon cultural composition as opposed to the nationalist tendencies of the period was somehow managed until the 1910s, in spite of political turbulence. However, in the era of nationalist republics, a conflict between cosmopolitanism and national culturalism signaled that the late Ottoman period’s cultural eclecticism had pushed its limits. Nationalist wars in the Balkans started to threaten not only the hundreds of year-round residents of Istanbul, but its cultural diversity as well.

Another important cultural legacy from the late Ottoman period is the development of education. Improvements made in the early nineteenth century, especially in the field of engineering and military education, were followed by the spread of these educational institutions all over the Ottoman State in the second half of the century. The establishment of military medical schools, the spread of foreign educational institutions throughout the state, and the emergence of other higher education institutions occurred during this period. Istanbul was the most important center of educational reform. The increase in the number of both foreign and minority-community schools is striking. In 1893, nearly 30,000 students were studying in 302 minority schools in Istanbul, while 5,000 students were studying at different levels (primary and secondary) in fifty-seven foreign schools, including thirty schools with French education. At this time, throughout the Ottoman State, the number of students in 28,800 state schools was 870,000. In Istanbul, 27,000 students were studying in 302 different types of schools, including eight colleges. After the Second Meşrutiyet, these numbers continued to increase. However, from the 1910s on, the relatively tolerant Ottomanism, which determined the curriculum, was influenced by militarist nationalism, and the position of the teacher took on a more militant position. In the aftermath of the Balkan wars, views about the perception of people from the Balkans and the Turks, that is, that each was the “other,” appeared in the curriculum22. Darülfünun, one of the most important institutions in the cultural history of Istanbul, was founded in the 1850s, but was not established permanently until 1 September, 1900. This school would later form the core of Turkey’s modern university system. As an important milestone for Istanbul’s scientific and cultural life, the establishment of a university indicated the many changes in the information structures of both urban life and a modernized state. At the same time, it also introduced a period in which foreign professors, primarily from Germany or France, came to Istanbul to teach.23

In the early twentieth century, Istanbul was a capital city in which the tension and pain of changes within an empire were strongly felt; this city was at the heart of conflict and strife between different imperialist policies. As the capital city of an empire that was collapsing towards the end of World War I, Istanbul was occupied by the British and not the Russians because of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.. Parallel to this, territory in Western Anatolia was occupied by the Greeks. The events that occurred in Istanbul during the five years of occupation would leave many negative scars on the nation’s collective memory. This occupation transformed into an event that represented the fate of a nation whose pride had been damaged and humiliated, and this affected the ensuing history of Istanbul severely. During this period, and particularly in nationalist and political discourses, grave doubts arose over Istanbul’s cosmopolitan culture. Regions like Pera and Harbiye, which had previously emerged and developed as symbolic regions of Ottoman Westernization, became the “other” within the nationalist symbolism that would soon grow in influence. 24

8- Two sides of the Golden Horn from Topkapı Palace (Yıldız Albums)

Extensive research conducted by Robert College faculty members in 1920 contains detailed information about the contemporary situation of the city. As one of the first urban monographs, this research sheds light on the results of the political chaos and uncertainty experienced during the occupation of Istanbul. After the British occupation of the city, some of the Greek residents tried to annex Istanbul to Greece. At the same time, following the Bolshevik Revolution, tens of thousands of Russian refugees fled to the city. The authors of this study state that a total of 200,000 Russian refugees had arrived in the Ottoman State, and that 65,000 of these were in Istanbul; when combined with refugees from other nations, the actual number of refugees entering the city is estimated to have been 100,000. The misery in which refugees and residents lived, coupled with the extravagant lives of the upper classes and occupying soldiers, influenced Istanbul’s urban culture in many aspects. One telling example lies in the new entertainment culture that the Russian immigrants brought to the city, which introduced vibrant nightlife to Istanbul. Additionally, and due in part to drug use and the spread of brothels, the occurrence of venereal disease increased among the population. This timeframe also saw a significant rise in crime rates. These two phenomena were reasons leading to the hygiene campaign, which was established in the following years.

After the war, a significant number of women in the city became widows, and this group came to form a core of a large population of people in need. The Muslim population of Istanbul established many secret organizations to support an Ankara-based resistance movement. These networks, providing support to Anatolia from Istanbul, represented another aspect of the splintering urban culture. The city faced considerable uncertainty due to the resistance movements, occupation forces, official government, minorities, refugees and orphans and orphanages (the number of which increased enormously in the post-war period). 25 Fred Field Goodsell wrote that Istanbul had three historical traditions: Militarism (war), Eclecticism (religion), and trade. 26 This claim not only reflects the institutions that constitute the city’s historical identity, but also summarizes the postwar mainstream structures in the city’s environment. When the Ottoman State collapsed, Istanbul’s population was over 1,000,000, and in the final stages of the Ottoman period the city population had lost its ethno-religious diversity. In the 1927 census, the population dropped to 690,000, a shift that would adversely influence the following two decades of the city in terms of daily life and commercial viability.

9- From Eminönü to Fatih (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

As part of the Ottoman territory since 1453, and a political center for centuries, the occupation of Istanbul by the British profoundly influenced the political climate of Istanbul in the Republican period. This invasion lasted until Istanbul was recaptured in October 1923 by independence movements organized in different Anatolian cities. Another important effect on the city was the establishment of Ankara as the new capital of Turkey, a decision taken due to a number of strategic and political reasons after the war. When the administration of the strategic maritime channels, the Bosphorus and the Dardenelles was transferred to an international consortium under the Treaty of Lausanne, the new government’s influence on the security of Istanbul was strategically limited. As the diplomatic corps could not be sure of whether or not Ankara was to remain the permanent capital, they did not move their headquarters from Istanbul for another ten years. The political weight of Istanbul, as both an imperial capital and the center of the caliphate, disappeared.

Initially, Ankara was a small town with a population of only 75,000. However, it soon established itself as the site of the nation state’s aspirations, and would eventually represent the dreams of the new government in the middle of the steppe. Istanbul came to represent the ruins of the old regime, the trauma of the occupation period, the humiliation of defeat, damaged social pride, and a dissonant cosmopolitanism with visualizations of a nationalist identity. Transferred to the Republic, the status of Istanbul had changed, the Ottoman State had collapsed, and privileges had been reneged upon. The city had become dissonant with state’s new identity, and was severely stricken by the destruction of twelve years of war.


With the proclamation of the Republic the political status of Istanbul, which had been relatively stable since its establishment, soon changed. What was once a cosmopolitan city in a military agrarian empire became an inward-oriented structure that was more in line with the international order of the period. The city, which had lost its political power, was perceived as a location that was immersed in the habits and symbols of the former Ottoman State. The pluralistic ethno-religious structure of the city was left in discord, owing to the nationalist politics of the Republican era. In this period, most of the university lecturers in the city had clear doubts about the cultural policy of the new Republic; those who harbored such doubts avoided openly advocating the new state. Istanbul’s media was also not yet reliable for the new Republican government. After meeting Sultan Vahdeddin in 1919, Mustafa Kemal Pasha, the founder of the Republic, did not visit Istanbul again until after the proclamation of the Republic in 1923. This did not merely reflect the security concerns of the newly established state; it was marked a protest of sorts against Istanbul’s status as an occupied city. Mustafa Kemal returned to the city as president of the Republic in 1927, eight years after his leaving. During this time, the new capital, Ankara, had become the center for the state. A significant portion of the national budget was spent on the construction of the new capital. A great need for resources arose for the construction of new bureaucratic institutions, infrastructure services and large state buildings. Turkey still had an agriculture-based economy at this point in time, which made it different from those areas that had embraced the tenets and technologies of the Industrial Revolution. The tendency toward inward-looking policies across the world in the aftermath of the 1929 depression was soon to lead Turkey to a strict statist economy and an authoritative regime; the reconstruction of cities would thus remain limited.

While maintaining an agriculture-based economy, there were different reasons why the Republican government did not embrace liberal development policies; even though there were rapidly growing areas, these were not embraced by the government. The elite, worried about rapid urbanization and industrialization after a revolution that resembled the Bolshevik Revolution, accelerated the spread of the cultural degeneration discourse brought about by a rapid urbanization and a constant ennobling of the villages. In these periods, the financial development programs that were implemented under the supervision of the state were devised and migration to cities remained limited. Three-quarters of the Turkish population lived in rural areas in the 1930s, and during this time the nation was subjected to intense rural idealism and propaganda. Populism in the Republic was a discourse that advocated the keeping of the peasantry in the villages; village institutions were an important medium in achieving this. The new capital was the most visible place and the new regime accentuated it meticulously in terms of urbanization and urban design. With its nationalist symbolism and institutions, Ankara was a tabula rasa of sorts, embodying the dreams of the newly established nation state. Distinct from the remainder of the rural country in its multicultural structure, Istanbul was not embraced by the bureaucrats of the new Anatolian regime. Although nearly one-third of the taxes was collected in Istanbul, the investment the city received was similar to smaller cities in Anatolia. This situation changed the earlier financial order of the people, which had been according to household. Many former elites lost their financial privileges, and their lives were transformed as they moved from mansions to apartments. 27

The literature of the period mirrored the changing face of Istanbul. Yakup Kadri’s novel Kiralık Konak presents a dramatic narrative of people in the interwar period who are forced to move to apartments because they cannot afford the expenses of living in a mansion. Thus, in time, the structure of Istanbul’s households changed. Istanbul differed from the rest of Turkey in that the size of the average household in the city was consistent with that in European cities. With the transformation of mansions, which tended to be occupied by a single family, into divided structures in which several families could live, the small number of large families that remained eventually broke down into nuclear families. Abdülhak Şinasi Hisar’s novels take a nostalgic look at daily life in a weakened Istanbul, particularly in areas along the Bosphorus. He describes the saddened perspective of the middle and upper classes in the late Ottoman era of their own history. Similarly, Yahya Kemal Beyatlı’s ennobling of Istanbul against Ankara contains a strong but dramatic aesthetic objection to the newly established order. Moreover, this approach reflects the imperial city’s proud belittling of a city that was struggling to get over its Islamized provincial identity. Thus, imperial Istanbul evolved into a new period slowly, and until the 1950s took a backseat.

Due the ailing economy many people left Istanbul. The city’s population declined from 1.1 million in 1912 to 690,000 in 1927 (a loss of 39%). The number of residents would only rise to 1,000,000 again in the early 1950s. 99% of the population was Muslim, while 110,000 Greeks and almost all of the 97,000 Armenians in the country resided in Istanbul. Istanbul’s demographics changed in parallel with changes in the country’s population structure. During the first ten years of the Republic, due to the increasing costs created by the country’s inadequate infrastructure, urban populations occasionally relied on imported staple foods. Products were shipped to Istanbul from ports as far away as New York. However, the expense involved in transferring these items domestically was twice that of the original cost of import. There were also many complaints from foreign companies and chamber of commerce officials about the inadequacy of the ports that had been built during the late Ottoman period. They stated that trade with nearby countries, including Russia, Iran and Bulgaria, could be boosted if the ports were improved. Although the demands for improvement were warmly received, the necessary investments were made over long periods of time. Harbors built with special privileges during the Ottoman period were nationalized and transferred to new port authorities, which belonged to the state in this period. 28

Between 1923 and 1950, the French city planner Henri Prost’s master plan for Istanbul was an important development in the history of the city. Having been awarded the Rome Prize, and renowned as an important figure in the development of Paris, Prost’s plan was influential in the late transformation of Istanbul. The plan approaches the city with a quadrant structure comprised of commercial, industrial, residential and recreational areas. A selection of Prost’s plans made between 1936 and 1950 were implemented during Lütfi Kırdar’s tenure as mayor and governor. However, for a number of reasons most of the road plans for the walled city could never be realized. The plan was to rebuild the historical texture of the city’s Ottoman heritage, emphasizing in particular Istanbul’s Greco-Roman heritage. One main feature of the plan was the identification of a significant part of the Historical Peninsula as an archaeological park, aiming to protect the city’s historic skyline by introducing a height limit on buildings. In order to re-establish relations between Pera and the Historical Peninsula, road plans and the Golden Horn bridge routes were rearranged. Vatan Street and Millet Street were both planned, and new roads connecting these streets to the coast and Beyoğlu were also projected. The interior of Golden Horn was marked as an industrial area. The plan also contained important elements, such as the arrangement of squares in Karaköy and Eminönü and the design of cultural complexes in Taksim and Şişhane. 29

One of the major intentions of the plan was to protect the Bosphorus. Although many of Prost’s intended roads could not be built, thanks to the restriction on building heights, the skyline of the Historical Peninsula was protected, as the plan had intended. However, since the references to which the buildings surrounding the monumental structures of Istanbul formed in the historical process had not been taken into consdieration, this process was only partially successful. A number of recreational areas were built, including parks and other landscaped areas. The Gezi area in Taksim was one of the most important projects that Prost’s plan brought to Istanbul (it was not preserved in later years in accordance with the original plan). One of the concerns about Prost’s plan was that by designating the Golden Horn as an industrial zone, the plan might seriously impede the well-being of the city in coming years. These concerns were manifested in the interventions which were made to Prost’s plan between 1950 and 1955, including the Board of Professors’ plan to increase industrial density in the districts of Rami and Kazlıçeşme. 30 This plan envisioned Istanbul as a city radiating from the center outwards, within its traditional boundaries. The plan also represents Istanbul’s incorporation of wheeled vehicles. In the coming years, scales of reference in Istanbul were revised. Following massive immigration to Istanbul, the problem of the gecekondu (squatter houses) was to become the most important item on the city’s agenda.

The population charts of Turkey and its three largest cities between 1923 and 1950 are significant for analyzing post-1950 developments (Table 1). Istanbul was only able to return to its 1912 population of 1,000,000 in 1950, having lost 40% of its 1912 population due to wars and migration. In terms of Turkey’s total population, Istanbul’s population share remained steadily around 5%. In the same period, the population of Turkey rose from 13,600,000 to 21 million people. The population of the new capital city Ankara quadrupled in these years, and this trend has continued to the present day. The slow growth course of Izmir’s population was in line with that of Istanbul. While these three cities contained nearly 7% of the population in 1927, this rate rose to 8% in 1950, 15% in 1980, 25% in 2000, and nearly 28% in 2013. An important milestone in the growth of these rates is the year 1950. With the introduction of the multiparty system, a migration boom occurred, and the three large city centers became areas of agglomeration.

Confronted with a significant population problem in the aftermath of World War I, Turkey had a high birth rate until the 1950s. After the 1950s, the first stop for young provincial residents was often Istanbul and other large urban centers. It was for this reason that over the course of the next twenty-five years Istanbul’s share in Turkey’s population would rise to 10%. During the period from 1950 to 1980, the population of Istanbul quadrupled, rising from 1,000,000 to 4,000,000. None of these developments were foreseen in Prost’s plan. According to even the most ambitious city planning projection, drawn up in 1930, officials assumed that Istanbul’s population would only reach a maximum of 2.5 million. However, all of these assumptions were exceeded in a very short period of time as Istanbul stepped into an era of mass migration. Unable to provide satisfactory solutions to pre-existing problems, the city was suddenly confronted with the additional issues of developing adequate housing, infrastructure, clean water facilities, and employment opportunities for its new residents.

Occurring alongside these internal problems, the international conjuncture, which changed at the end of World War II, and the Cold War determined in part the role of Istanbul in national policies. Russian pressure from the nineteenth century re-emerged following World War II, re-igniting the nation’s recognition of Istanbul’s importance. Stalin’s claim of rights over the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, Ardahan, and Kars impelled Turkey to review its international allies and seek new ones. For Turkey, whose sovereignty over the straits and the vicinity had been restricted and whose internal integrity had been damaged by the Treaty of Lausanne, the security of the straits became a fundamental problem in the interwar period. The control of the straits was transferred as a whole to Turkey with an agreement made thanks to successful diplomacy in Montreux in 1936. However, with Russia’s defense of a policy that mandated joint control of the straits and sole control of Kars and Ardahan, Turkey’s concerns over these areas and Istanbul flared up.

After this geopolitical difficulties, Turkey moved towards a relationship with the Atlantic alliance; this occurred following a period in which the country was able to maintain a relatively objective position in the struggles between the great powers. During the Democrat Party period, Turkey became the frontier of this alliance. Therefore, due to changing international politics an anti-Soviet political line, which was to last until the early 1990s, emerged. This led to a claim of rights over Istanbul and the straits. This alliance also shaped Turkey’s political base line. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the relief of geopolitical risks in Istanbul there was simultaneous integration of the city within the vast geographical hinterland, causing it to join the ranks of global cities.31 The rise of globalization increased the former imperial center’s sphere of influence. And with Turkey’s transition to a multi-party political system, Istanbul’s position within the country changed rapidly. The real story of present-day Istanbul, which has been shaped by an incredible social and financial dynamism, started in those years. Due to internal migration processes, which acted as basic identifiers of this transformation, Turkey’s major cities adopted new structures. The process of being included in modern urban life by societies, which relied on agriculture was felt strongly in Istanbul; they were slowly breaking away from agriculture and subsistence farming.

Table 1 - The population of Turkey and its three largest cities and the ratio to the total population (1927-2012) *


Population of Turkey

Population of Istanbul

Population of Ankara

Population of Izmir

The percentage of total Turkish population living in Istanbul (%)

The percentage of total Turkish population living in Ankara (%)

The percentage of total Turkish population living in İzmir (%)









































































































































* The population figures for 1950, 1955 and 1960 are from Yavuz and Türkyılmaz. 1 Figures for Izmir and Ankara denote urban population.

1 Sutay Yavuz and A. Sinan Türkyılmaz, “2000’li Yıllarda İstanbul Nüfusu: Yeni Eğilimler”, Eski İstanbullular Yeni İstanbullular, edited by Murat Güvenç, Osmanlı Bankası Arşiv ve Araştırma Merkezi 2009, s. 143.

Source: DIE and TÜİK Turkey census statistics.


After 1950 newly industrialized countries began to suffer from the effects of rapid urbanization. This distinguished them from advanced capitalist countries, which had left behind the problems of nineteenth-century industrialization and were able to change to welfare state regimes in order to reduce the effects of war. During the second half of the twentieth century, advanced capitalist countries implemented welfare state policies which emerged with high economic development and employment, high-quality housing, investments in urban infrastructure and increased schooling. Newly industrialized countries, on the other hand, entered a phase identified with a dependent growth, uncontrolled urbanization, low-quality housing, the growth of the informal market and inadequate schooling.32 Colonized countries in particular embarked on a quest for different development policies that could eliminate the destructive effects of colonization. In countries like Turkey, controversies over democratic and economic development amidst rapid urbanization marked the political issues of the day. In addition to the political and economic problems that result from the gecekondus (shanty towns) that simultaneously sprang up across the metropolises, the issues of urban reform and administration became more prominent.

While the central dynamic of economic development across the world from 1920 to 1960 was a monopolist national development-focused form of capitalism, after 1970 a globalizing capitalism emerged that allowed an expansion of multinational companies and neoliberal economic programs; nationalist developmentalism was largely abandoned. The urban form of the period between 1920 and 1960 was single-centered, with sprawling sub-cities typically surrounding metropolises. Cities such as New York-Newark, Chicago, Boston, Tokyo, London, Paris and Moscow were important centers in this period. After 1960, these urban forms evolved into multi-centered metropolitan regions. The spread of the “megalopolitan” urban form emerged in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Tokyo-Yokohama.33 In his 1966 book The World Cities, the prominent urbanist Peter Hall claimed that seven major cities embodied this new urban form over the past century and were gathering points for the major companies of the world economy, cultural institutions and large populations. According to Hall, in parallel with increasing diversification of economic activities and the accumulation of capital in these centers, the share of these cities in the total national population increased steadily. The rise of the service sector, the increase in the number of white and gold collar workers, and the fact that large companies have established their headquarters in such centers distinguish these metropolises. The quest for hi-tech solutions in the structural alignment of new socio-technological tendencies ushered in a similar search for solutions in these cities. Emerging decentralization, which arose from an increasing need for housing, and the investments in transportation and logistics required by this, caused these cities to spread outwards even further. However, there are distinctions in certain metropolitan regions, like the Rhine-Ruhr, that are not in keeping with this trend. The spread of economic diversity- which is a common feature of world cities - and activities that have no dominant sector are not visible here. The heterogeneous economic structure and the spread of low-density populations are all related to a country’s long-standing plural political structure. The multi-centered structure of the city in these regions is more apparent than in other world cities. 34 Therefore, these kinds of cities have many unique aspects, due to their historical or geographical contingency, despite the homogenization caused by socio-technological processes and growth trends among the population.

It is beneficial to compare the trends of Istanbul’s population after 1950 with that of other major world cities. Upon comparing Istanbul’s population dynamics, which gradually transformed it into a multi-centered industrial city, it is apparent that the city’s growth rate was quite rapid. Considering the special historical circumstances of the first half of the century leads us to a possible explanation. With the spread of capitalist economies all over the world, a significant part of the rural population immigrated to cities, and people without property abandoned subsistence farming, flocking to the cities in the first half of the twentieth century. As a result, cities with populations of over one million experienced a boom in numbers.

Despite such growth, as summarized above Istanbul lost a significant portion of its population (in particular, non-Muslims) during the first half of the century. Since 1950, the fundamental phenomenon that marks the development of Istanbul has been internal migration. The city eventually became an agglomeration region for those leaving poor and rural areas, thus influencing the sociological transformation of Turkey. Simultaneously, this new chapter in Istanbul’s existence as a nation-state city was influenced by the transformation of the country. A reason for the increase in the density and rate of immigration lay in Turkey’s agriculture-focused growth and industrialization policies, which impelled the population to stay in rural areas for the first twenty years of the Republic. In the liberalization environment of post-1950 Turkey, which saw the rapid disintegration of the rural population, mass immigration to major cities occurred. Tekeli states that explanations behind this migration, such as the mechanization of agriculture and the scarcity of arable land have no empirical value. Rather, the real reason for this migration was the increasing appeal of the cities. Labor migration from rural areas to European countries after 1960 should be considered in this context as well. 35 However, as in the early periods of the century, between 1950 and 1960 hundreds of thousands of people came to Turkey from Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, with the vast majority settling in Istanbul. The effects of the post-imperial period lasted until hundreds of thousands of migrants from Bulgaria settled in the city in 1989. This shows that the external immigration dynamic still has an influence in Istanbul itself.

Considering growth rates between 1950 and 2010, during which the city’s population increased eleven times, Istanbul ranked among the fastest growing cities in the world. Istanbul surpassed a number of Indian metropolises with its population growth rate in the second half of the century, due to the fact that the Indian cities were affected by wars and changing political conditions. The management of the rapid and strong wave of immigration after World War II became the city’s main problem; Istanbul had been in a period of ease in terms of population for many years. In the early 1900s, London’s population was over 6,000,000, New York’s was over 4,000,000, Paris’ was over 3,000,000, and Berlin’s was over 2,000,000. Like Istanbul, many other cities’ populations were over 1,000,000. Between World War I and World War II Istanbul lost 40% of its population, and the efficiency of the city decreased. It would be necessary for the city to wait until the end of the century in order to achieve its relatively efficient status among world metropolises. Istanbul did not rank among the world’s thirty largest metropolises in the early 1950s in terms of population. As a result of rapid population growth, in the early 1980s it became the 29th largest city in the world with respect to population. In early 2000, due to the effect of economic globalization, it became the 21st largest city in terms of population size.

Table 2 - Population change in some of the world’s metropolises (1950-2025)

Population figures, their ratios to national total population figures, total growth rates and population rankings
for the world’s largest city regions: 1950-2015



1950 Population (Millions)

1975 Population (Millions)

2000 Population (Millions)

2011 Population (Millions)

2025 Population (Millions)* (estimate)

Ratio of city’s population to National Total as of 2011 * (%)

Total growth rate of population between 1950-2011 * (%)

Population rank in the world’s thirty largest cities-1950

Population rank in the world’s thirty largest cities-2011

Population rank among the world’s thirty largest cities- 2025*













































Buenos Aires

































Rio de Janeiro











Mexico City

































Sao Paulo











Istanbul **










* Figures are from the United Nations Population Unit. The author of the UN data made proportional calculations.

** Istanbul’s population is lower in the United Nations data because the definition of a metropolitan area differs from that provided by TÜİK.

Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, World Urbanization Prospects: considering the 2011 Revision, I selected a number of important world metropolises and put them into a table.

10- A street from the old Istanbul (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

While the ratio of Istanbul›s population to the total population of Turkey was 5.6% in the second half of the century, it rose to 10.6% in 1980 and 14.8% in 2000 (Table 1). In contrast to cities like New York, Tokyo, Paris, and Moscow, which had completed their demographic transitions in earlier periods, Istanbul experienced simultaneous demographic transitions and high urbanization processes. Such growth and transition occurring amidst economic and political crises is in parallel with the history of metropolises in developing countries. Similar to metropolises such as Bombay, Mexico City, Cairo and Sao Paulo, Istanbul experienced problems in terms of urban infrastructure, schooling, economic growth, and quality housing in Istanbul during these periods. Likewise, towards the end of the century, continuous outward growth trends in major world cities were also experienced in Istanbul. Agglomerations comprised of multi-centered cities, which were joined to one another emerged. These regions, also defined as urban areas, are the dominant settlement type of the 21st century with their astronomical populations and their overwhelmingly diverse economic and social activities. In this respect, the population figures of Tokyo (due to Japan’s limited geography) and Buenos Aires in Argentina (which always had a high urbanization rate) are notable in that they comprise over 30% of the total national population. Istanbul’s population size does not portray such a density rate, but its ratio to total national population is also considerable; one in every five Turks resides in Istanbul, meaning it has a high-density rate and peak level. Ratios that similar to Istanbul’s in this regard can be found in Mexico City and Paris. However, in 1950, Istanbul’s growth rate was much higher than both of these cities. Because of its high growth rate, acute problems emerged in many fields ranging from infrastructure to schooling, from immigration to shantytowns, from quality housing supply to urban organizations and planning, particularly between 1950 and 2000. Although Istanbul has been an immigrant city in every period of its history, immigration in the second half of the twentieth century was substantially higher for a brief period. An excerpt from İhsan Bilgin summarizes both the reasons for this, including the cities Istanbul can be compared to:

Paradoxically, in order to perceive the period after 1950, a period in which the dimensions that these problems had taken in nineteenth-century Europe, we should direct our gaze not to the West but to third-world metropolises such as Cairo, Mexico City or Rio. In this modernization model, in which public investments made in the city took place at very low levels when compared to Western cities, industries and shantytowns grew unchecked in desolation around the highway axes. In this model, where primary elements of the modernist project, such as housing, infrastructure and environmental investments do not lead to the growth of the city, the city dilates per se by encircling the axes drawn by highways, as was the case in post-1950s Istanbul... In order to understand the traces of modernity in a Western city, we should observe both aboveground activities and underground investments. 36

11- An Istanbul street and those who spend time in front of a coffee house (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

Cities like Cairo, Bombay, Sao Paulo, Istanbul, Rio de Janeiro, Ankara and Kinshasa can be defined with recourse to their prevalent slums. This tendency towards dense, urban squatting is not only related to the imposition of the post-war world economic system on developing countries, but also the history of colonization itself. As a result of the colonization that appeared throughout the nineteenth century, a large part of the world was under full or half control by European countries. Increasing uprisings in European metropolises, class conflicts and crises in urban infrastructure could all be solved at times by mobilizing colonial resources. The transfer of such resources doomed millions of people in colonized countries to starvation and death. Moreover, the colonization tendency intensified in an attempt to find a solution for increasing class polarization brought on by nineteenth-century capitalism in industrializing countries and urban infrastructure projects realized with the transfer of colonial resources. Therefore, economic surplus value usurped from the colonized countries before the 1950s became the basis for unequal economic environments and increasing economic dependence post-1950. Mass internal immigration waves occurred suddenly in these countries after colonization and caught governments off-guard in countries whose resources had been exploited for a long time. Urban depressions led by the non-industrial urbanization of cities in Africa and India impelled these countries to look for new financial resources. The basic feature of IMF and World Bank based structural adjustment and stability programs was that they were comprised of policies of agricultural deregulation and fiscal discipline. Thus, the opening of new employment opportunities in urban areas was limited. As a result, the economic picture of over-urbanization and poverty from unemployment was accompanied by problems experienced in housing type and the growth of informal markets in all developing and under-developed countries. In the countries which attempted to generate employment with import substitution, periodical economic crises, resulting from financial instabilities, high public debt and inflationary environments often occurred and investments in education and urbanization were among the first to be affected. 37

12-13-14- Shanty houses which were once identified with Istanbul and the streets of shanty districts (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

Although Turkey was not colonized, it was impelled to live with austerity policies due to financial dependency after 1850; after 1950, the IMF focused structural adjustment programs were introduced. As a result of these economic programs, the supply of quality housing remained very limited, major problems were confronted in infrastructural investments while there was major growth in informal sectors. Problems faced in urban infrastructure were also related to the high level of restraints imposed by central governments upon local authorities. In the post-war period Turkey witnessed increased industrialization and urbanization. Pamuk states that industrialization between 1947 and 1979 developed in five different phases: a period between 1947-1953 of “agriculture-based growth”, a period between 1954 and 1962 of “depression and return to import substitution”, a period between 1963 and 1970 of “exchange shortage, fast import substitution relying on internal savings,” and a period between 1977 and 1978 of “depression”.38 According to Schick and Tonak, the main feature of Turkey’s economy in the postwar period was the “cycle of stabilization programs” recommended by the IMF. In subsequent stabilization and depression cycles, many policies were adopted, such as devaluation in exchange rates, wage control, curtailment of the money supply, providing conveniences to foreign investment, abolishing commercial restrictions, increasing job security, and decontrolling prices. Indirect consequences of these conditions included the growth of informal markets, the social loss of reliability in perceptions of stabilization, a decrease in public spending and the indirect interruption of investments in rural and urban infrastructure.39 The emergence and growth of shantytowns took place amidst general economic policies and financial bottlenecks within the national economy.

15- Zeytinburnu, Kocamustafapaşa, Topkapı and Fatih (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

With the change to a multiparty system, urban planning studies inclined towards a different direction; this was the result of rapid economic developments during post-1950 agricultural mechanization and urbanization. After the dismissal of Prost with the Democrat Party’s ascent to power, a new planning team was formed including local planners and architects. However, until 1956, no fundamental steps to increase investments in infrastructure were taken. Following this period of instability, after 1956 a transformation began; this went beyond Prost’s plan, with projects being implemented personally by Prime Minister Adnan Menderes. Having doubled its population in ten years due to immigration, the city was suffering from a lack of quality housing and infrastructural problems. As part of this new wave of development, many streets were made wider than Prost had originally called for, such as Vatan and Millet, the Coastal Road (Kennedy and Ragıp Gümüşpala streets) and Barbaros Boulevard; these were among the projects introduced by Menderes. Istanbul and East Marmara stood out as central regions for industrial investments.40

16- Kumkapı, Yenikapı, Millet and Vatan Streets’ crossroads in Aksaray, Laleli, Saraçhane, Şehzadebaşı (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

Maintaining Prost’s planning logic, which was developed with both motorized vehicles and private transportation systems in mind, the Menderes administration removed thousands of structures from Istanbul’s historical heritage. Menderes completed many projects, including some in areas within the walled city in the districts of Pera, Eyüp and Üsküdar; a number of these had been planned to take place over approximately a century, but Menderes realized them in only four. This transformational intervention of the city required a large allocation from the national budget. Istanbul stood out as the main area of investment during the Menderes period, taking the place of Ankara, which had been granted many privileges by the government between 1923 and 1950. However, this undertaking occurred at a time when the country was suffering from economic fragility. With a serious devaluation in the currency in 1958, major cutbacks were made in the budgets for urban infrastructure investment. The share allocated from the budget for planning and infrastructural investments in Istanbul and other major cities decreased substantially. Import substitution development, which followed the economic depression, as indicated by Pamuk, was implemented with a deficit in currency and with a reliance on domestic savings. According to Keyder, the economically distinctive feature of this period was “the lack of foreign investment and the abundance of small landowner peasants”.41 High human mobility related to rural disintegration doubled the requirements of urban investment. Thus, in the budgets required for local administrations and urban infrastructure, a severe downturn occurred. As a result, the city experienced an irregular period of uncertainty in the supply of quality housing and urban infrastructure.

17- A fire site in Aksaray Küçük Langa (22 September 1931) (Istanbul Metropolitan  Municipality, Atatürk Library)

Financial problems between 1955 and 1958 culminated in the aforementioned devaluation in 1958, which dealt a major blow to urban reforms; Istanbul had, up to this point, attracted a high amount of investment. The urban renewal movement of the post-1990s emerged after irregular development in cities that had been unable to receive adequate investment due to the economic crises between 1960 and 1980. Another aspect of these inadequate investments was the insufficient ability of the central government, although it had significant power over local administrations, particularly regarding urban real estate taxes.42 In the destabilizing atmosphere of the 1960 coup, and following the depression which lasted until 1963, a period of high industrialization period commenced; this era relied on import substitution between 1963 and 1971 (with an annual growth rate of approximately 9%). Growth was at this point was supported by national resources (90%) and was focused more on intermediate products. According to Keyder, this wave of industrialization led to consequences; immigration to cities, for example, gathered speed. A crisis in the supply of quality housing also emerged. In cities like Ankara, Istanbul, and Izmir, half of the population started to live in shantytowns. Disintegrating rural society rapidly changed the political balance in the cities. Political polarization deepened on the national level, and the number of urban movements increased. In 1971, 30% (1,200,000) of paid workers were unionized. In 1963, this number reached 296,000, and in 1978 it increased to 2,000,000.43

18- A fire site in Ayvansaray (13 April 1933) (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality,   Atatürk Library)

There was a continuous flow of migration to and from the city between 1950 and 2012; the size of net migration did not decrease until the end of the 21st century (Table 3). As of 1965, annually more than 100,000 new inhabitants came to the city. After 1980, this rate reached an average of 200,000 annually. The total number of emigrants leaving the city was only around one-fifth of the number of immigrants. This trend eventually evened out, with today the level of immigration to and emigration from the city being equal. It is difficult to claim that the central government succeeded in providing housing, offering social security, and infrastructural services for the new arrivals to the city. The post-1960 era witnessed an attempt to make the transition to a planned economy and prepare official planning, although a lack of inspection dealt a great blow to the urbanization trend of the period.

Table 3 - The number of migrants coming to and leaving Istanbul (1965-2012)



Net Migration Size





























Source: TÜİK, General Census, Migration Statistics of 2000, TÜİK Publications, no. 2976, 2005, p.22-25; ADNKS Sedat Murat, Dünden Bugüne İstanbul’un Nüfus ve Demografik Yapısı, Istanbul: İTO Yayınları, 2006, p. 357.

Table 4 - Gecekondu and its populations in Turkey (1955-1995)


Number of gecekondus

Gecekondu dwellers population

Share of the urban population (%)

































* Estimated

Source: Ruşen Keleş, Kentleşme ve Konut Politikası, Ankara: AÜSBF Yayınları, 1984, p. 357 and the same work, 3. ed., Ankara: İmge Yayınları, 1996, p. 385.

Table 5 - Gecekondu populations in thirteen provinces (early 1960s)

Number of

shantytown Population

Urban Population

% of Shantytown Population in Total Urban Population


































































* Shantytowns outside the city of Zonguldak are close to mines.

Source: Kemal H. Karpat, Türkiye’de Toplumsal Dönüşüm: Kırsal Göç, Gecekondu ve Kentleşme, Ankara: İmge Yayınları, 2003, p. 110 (retrieved from Ministry of Public Works 1959 Statistics Yearbook) The ranking system was recalculated by the author based on the total gecekondu population size.

Table 6 - The number of households and average household size (1955-2011)

Total Number of Households in Istanbul

Average Household Size in Istanbul

Total Number of Households in Turkey

Average Household Size in Turkey

The Rate of Households in Istanbul to households in Turkey * (%)





























































* Calculated by the author and added to the original table.

** Data was retrieved from TÜİK’s Turkey Population and Housing Survey.

Source: Sedat Murat, Dünden Bugüne İstanbul’un Nüfus ve Demografik Yapısı, Istanbul: İTO Yayınları, 2006, p. 133.

See also: Devlet İstatistik Enstitüsü, Nüfusun Sosyal ve Ekonomik Nitelikleri
(Türkiye ve İstanbul Kitapları) and Nüfus ve Demografi I, 1927-1990, Istanbul: İBB Yayınları, 1997, p. 384.

Between these years, throughout the country the number of shantytowns increased gradually. As can be observed from Table 4, while the number of shantytowns was 50,000, the population living in them was 250,000. The share of this number in the urban population was 4.7%. In 1983, this rate increased fivefold. In 1983 the population living in the shantytowns was more than 6,000,000. The share of Ankara’s urban population living in the shantytowns was greater than in other major cities. In 1950, while the share of the gecekondu population made up 22% of the entire urban population, this ratio rose to 57% in 1966, 65% in 1975 and 73% in 1980. Although İzmir’s city center resisted squatters, shantytowns zones surrounded the city environs.44 Thus, in Turkey, as in many other developing countries, a period of urban construction commenced. During this time, major cities were surrounded by shantytowns zones, which the governments choose to ignore for many reasons.

19- Fatih from Saraçhane to Edirnekapı (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

20- Eyüp (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

During the early 1960s, the shanty town phenomenon began to shape urbanization in Turkey. The share of the shantytown population in the total urban population ranged from 30% to 60% (Table 5). Moreover, the total shantytown population in these thirteen cities exceeded 1.5 million. 43% of the shantytowns population lived in Istanbul. Again, 44% of the shantytowns in these thirteen cities, which exceeded a population of 273,000, were built in Istanbul. In the early 1960s, the population of the province of Istanbul was close to 2,000,000; in ten years this figure nearly doubled. As the table makes explicit, the population living in shantytowns in Istanbul reached 45% of the total urban population. This rate was 33% in Izmir, and around 60% in Ankara. Considering that the number of households in Istanbul was 393,000 in the 1960s (Table 6), it can be said that in this timeframe one-third of the total households were transformed into shantytown households. This trend has continued to increase gradually over time. In 1966, for example, in Istanbul the number of shantytown households reached 132,000.45

The rise of the slum phenomenon, urban transitions and internal migration was also associated with the rapid industrialization of the city, which helped it become an attractive site for immigration. While Istanbul’s housing stock was gradually transforming into masonry starting from the late nineteenth century, stone, brick houses, and, eventually concrete apartments due to fires and other problems, from the mid-twentieth century onwards, slums in peripheral zones were added to the city’s housing stock. The concept of the Istanbul shantytown was developed in the mid-1940s. Local administrators and urbanists expressed their concerns about the problems that this sprawling housing texture would surely bring. Despite this, however, during the 1950s the first shantytown settlements appeared just outside of the city walls in Zeytinburnu, the Kâğıthane area, Taşlıtarla (close to Eyüp-Rami) and Gaziosmanpaşa. A section of these areas in Prost’s plan had been projected as an industrial region. The establishment of these neighborhoods, settled by unrecorded laborers and workers in the mills and industrial enterprises, was tantamount to the first comprehensive sprawl from the old city center to the outskirts. With a growing population, these places first became sub-districts and then city districts.46

Another shantytown-related issue is the difference of these structures from those in other developing countries, which are known as favelas, villa miseria, barrio, bidonville or kibera; most of these describe informal and low-quality housing environments. Conducting a comprehensive research in the three shantytown regions of Nafibaba, Baltalimanı and Celalettin Paşa between 1968 and 1975, Kemal Karpat reached striking findings about the organizational dynamics of these settlements. Many of his findings were contrary to the research that had been conducted under the influence of the “culture of poverty” approach of the period. Karpat conducted research in the places from which slum-dwellers immigrated, and he discovered both the continuity and density of the relationships between rural and urban areas on the one hand; and their integration into the established urban culture could be considerably high as long as immigrant groups had not faced exclusivity.. Although these immigrations were not incorporated into the city in an orderly fashion, they did not commit crimes in a great number as well; on the contrary there were many societies that became incorporated into the city without being an additional burden on the economy. Karpat suggests that although poor, these immigrants - almost all of whom were born in the villages - had optimistic expectations; this contradicts the fatalist claims in the paradox of “the culture of poverty.” Many of them, in fact, integrated into the city with quite high success. The low-cost structures in which they lived often had relatively better conditions than the one-room structures or hastily constructed structures in other countries. Karpat observes that there was a significant communication problem between slum dwellers and the former inhabitants of the city. According to his study, however, this issue does not prove insurmountable when considered within the context of a lengthy urbanization process. One of the most important impacts of the immigration process is that immigrants not only transformed the structures to which they arrived, but also the structures from which they emigrated. Therefore, the evolving processes of Istanbul’s transformation were intertwined with those of rural areas.47 When compared to the major cities in other countries that experienced rises in slum populations, it can be said that in the early 1970s the population of shantytowns was higher than the urban population in three major cities of Turkey. The most important reason for this lays in the high fertility and migration rates in Turkey.48

Another study focusing on the shantytowns between 1977 and 1983 reached striking findings about the profiles of immigrants who dwelled in these structures. After immigrating to the city, migrants maintained their economic links with their hometowns. Their resources were typically allocated to the categories of “creating wealth” or “settling” both in rural and urban areas. With time, however, rural properties became harder to utilize and migrants became more integrated into the city and were impelled to dispose of their properties in the country. Because of this, over time migrants began to spend their savings on improving their houses (gecekondu). In shantytown communities, the tendency to a common attitude in order to increase their living space was high, as was the tendency to form something resembling a “volunteer army” in order to protect the neighborhood. Moreover, shantytown dwellers transferred 60% of their gains to rural areas during the first years of their urban inhabitance. In addition to these deficiencies in the transfer of resources there was a 10% loss. As the risk of investing in rural areas increased, investing in the shantytown became more reasonable. The most important reason for this was the strong desire to “acquire property” via developing shantytowns. In particular, starting from the 1940s, periodical amnesties for illegal construction projects led to a tendency to consider shantytowns as an investment, reinforcing the attempts to expand existing plots. Thus, disintegration processes in the rural and organizational dynamics in urban centers went hand in hand.49

21- Karaköy (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

22- From Tophane to Karaköy (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

According to two other studies, shantytown dwellers were extensively employed in informal employment sectors. The new social ecology, which emerged with the development of the slums, is conceptualized in one of these studies as “a city with shantytowns, minibas (dolmuş) and peddlers (işporta) .” The study describes a city in which informal business branches developed, such as peddling goods and wares; this was triggered by inadequate unemployment opportunities. Further, informal employment was inspired by the shantytowns themselves; these had been brought about by the inadequate housing supply, and led to an inadequate transportation infrastructure following transformations in the 1950s.50 In another study, the reasons for the difficulties faced by workers who attempted to become integrated into the city were explained in relation to the features of the informal sector and shantytown ecology. A dominant approach in the normative context of the period was to examine the reasons why the shantytown dwellers were unable to integrate with the “urban population”. The same normative trend is also present in the argument about the concept of “urbanism” under the influence of behavioral social sciences, but not for the concept of “urbanization”.51

23- In front of New Mosque (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

During those years, immigrants, the majority of whom were village-born and uneducated, attempted to participate in the intensive horizontal solidarity with those in their local origin networks. One of the greatest problems of these people, employed in informal markets and in irregular and informal business branches, was their position in comparison to the organized elitist bureaucracy. In a study conducted in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Gültepe and Telsizler, striking findings were obtained in regards to this topic. The participants of this study complained about the attitude of the bureaucracy towards them, that they were perceived as “poor”, were “sneered at” and “humiliated”; they were clearly annoyed by the treatment they received in “state offices” and hospitals, and felt impelled to use bribes in order to get a job done properly. In spite of this, however, they reported that they claimed their rights either by staying silent, leaving those responsible to answer their consciences, or by taking up legal procedures. The percentage of people applying to legal procedures was relatively high. According to Heper, the urban immigrant was still powerless in front of the elitist bureaucracy and was generally defeated. The reason for this was not that immigrants were not familiar with the bureaucratic system, but rather that bureaucratic culture tended to ostracize them. Moreover, the oppressed were not just immigrants; they could also be long-standing residents of the city. Between the two, however, the ostracism of immigrants was more prevalent.52

There were three reasons for tensions between the state and immigrant citizens residing in shantytowns: the first was the frail legal ground upon which shantytown residents stood on account of the unclear legal status of their residences and the lack of basic infrastructure in their surroundings. The second was an attitude of cultural superiority and symbolic violence exerted toward recent immigrants from the pockets of elitist Republican citizenship. Third was the huge cultural and social distance, which existed between the older residents and the immigrants to the city. The social changes experienced in Istanbul from the 1950s to the mid-1980s unfolded against this complicated backdrop. Until quite recently, Turkish social sciences have approached immigrants of the industrialized city from normative theoretical premises; these address environments in which public arrangements were often inadequate. Therefore, these studies have difficulty in explaining the complexity of the city’s long-term formation due to prioritizing the concerns of an established urban culture rather than the specific experiences of the immigrant.

Table 7 - Total fertility rate and infant mortality rate nation-wide and in Istanbul (1950-2008)



Mortality Rate (per thousand)
in Istanbul

Infant Mortality Rate (per thousand) Turkey




































Source: Sutay Yavuz and A. Sinan Türkyılmaz, “2000’li Yıllarda İstanbul Nüfusu: Yeni Eğilimler”, Eski İstanbullular Yeni İstanbullular, ed. Güvenç Murat, Istanbul: Osmanlı Bankası Arşiv ve Araştırma Merkezi, 2009, p.145.

From the 1950s on, certain steps were taken in the field of urban planning. The formation of the Levent region, today located between the two Bosphorus bridges, commenced in the early 1950s; by the 1990s this becameone of the most valuable piece of lands in the city and a central business district. This residential district, planned as part of the continuous development of the Beyoğlu region, was to be composed of single-unit houses with gardens and completed in multiple stages. It was one of the few projects that the state built to enlarge the supply of quality housing. Between 1950 and 1960, almost 1,400 quality residences were completed on four sites. Built between 1955 and 1965 in Baruthane (Ataköy), another luxury housing estate consisted of a multistory housing project far from the city. These two projects were the first planned decentralization projects that aimed to produce luxury housing. Both projects were carried out with investments from the Turkish Emlak Kredi (Real Estate Loan) Bank.53

According to Cansever, housing projects in Levent and Mecidiyeköy justified Prost’s concerns about Istanbul’s development. Prost thought that the city would shift north with residential production in Mecidiyeköy and Levent, and that it would be impossible to protect the Bosphorus. In time, Prost’s concerns have proved correct. Yet after Prost’s plan, the scale and focus of the problem in planning studies regarding the relationships between central and local authorities were not put forward properly. The Piccinato Plan, implemented between 1963 and 1970, yielded positive results in the solution of transportation axes and traffic problems. The 1974 plan also yielded tangible results in many fields such as water (the DAMOC project), the arrangement of model commercial functions for wastewater and environmental pollution, and the coordination of transportation.54 On the other hand, the Turkish Emlak Kredi Bank started making investments in and initiatives for quality dwelling production with the Levent and Ataköy projects; these projects can be seen as early heralds of TOKI, an efficient dwelling production agency and real estate investment trusts REITs from post-1980 and 2000. In 1980, new regulations were introduced and adopted in order to increase urban housing production. In the early 1980s, the need for urban housing in Turkey could still not be met, although the private sector housing companies and housing cooperatives were active in the field by this time. In 1984, 45% of urban housing demand was met. This rate increased to 77% in 1989. As the average of these years, only 60% of the urban housing need could be met in accordance with legislation requirements. The public’s share in the production of housing ranged from 2% to 4%. It was against this backdrop that shantytown construction carried on.55

24- From Tophane to Dolmabahçe (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

The gradual rise of Istanbul’s population in relation to Turkey’s population also meant an increase in the number of households (Table 6). While in 1955 7% of the total households in Turkey were in Istanbul, this rate rose to 12% in 1980, and to 15% in 1990. Today, this rate is around 19%, and is consistent with the established trend. Despite Istanbul’s high immigration rate, its average household size in the last fifty years is nearly a percentage point lower than the national average. Until recently, the fertility rate in Turkey was higher in the countryside. In 1955, the average Turkish household size was 5.7. In the same year, the average household size in Istanbul was 4.9. This trend continued at the same level until the end of the 1970s. After 1980, a period of gradual decline in the average household size in Turkey began. This gap between the averages of Istanbul and Turkey has reached a closing point today and is now at a low of 3.8. In the same period, however, the ratio of Istanbul households to Turkish households increased in comparison; today, one in every five households is in Istanbul.

Parallel to the change in household structure, the difference between Istanbul and the rest of Turkey in terms of total fertility and infant mortality rates should be noted, despite the high migration and increasing population. In the city the average fertility per woman in the mid-1950s was no greater than three children, and it did not reach this figure until the early 1970s. In the same period, Turkey’s average was twice as high. Low fertility continued in Istanbul in the 1980s and 1990s, while the national average approached Istanbul’s average. The same trend can be observed in the number of infant deaths as well. In Istanbul, the infant mortality rate remained very low in comparison to the national average. Today, these numbers have come down to reasonable levels throughout the country (Table 7). This suggests that the growth dynamics of Istanbul in the last fifty years are largely hidden in the high number of immigrants arriving from elsewhere in the country.

25- Beşiktaş (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

Another vital issue in Istanbul’s structural transformation was that the cosmopolitan structure of the city was turned upside down by the middle of the century. The economic situation of the city’s non-Muslims deteriorated due to the Wealth Tax enacted in 1942. This tax was introduced during the and impossible tax burdens were imposed on the non-Muslim population. Heavy taxes were imposed on both small and large businesses, particularly in the three major cities. The estates of tax debtors were confiscated, while those who did not own estates were sent to different regions of Anatolia to work in exile. The majority of confiscated properties were transferred to the Turkish Emlak Kredi Bank, which had financial difficulties.56 Important developments started in the mid-1950s between Turkey and Greece after growing conflicts over Cyprus; these lasted until 1965. As a result of a campaign which started with a series of faux news pieces on the sixth and seventh of September in 1955, houses and shops belonging to the city’s non-Muslim population (particularly in Beyoğlu) were attacked by crowds. Such was the spread of these attacks that government authority was virtually eliminated. This violence and looting sped up the process of minority emigration. Between 1963 and 1965 in particular, a period of heightening tensions in Cyprus, a substantial part of the city’s Greek population abandoned Istanbul.57 The environment of ethno-religious tolerance which had started to develop in the early part of the century, deteriorated during the occupation years, with these events forming the nadir. The rate of non-Muslims in the city dropped from 40% in the early twentieth century to 5%, eventually reaching a figure of 1% today. In terms of religious and ethnic pluralism, Istanbul’s cosmopolitan structure was replaced by people coming from different regions of Turkey. The new cultural synthesis emerging in Istanbul represents a composition formed of people from many different ethnic backgrounds.

Increases in the city’s cultural and social capital ran parallel to increases in primary schooling and the number of universities. The establishment of new universities in Istanbul between 1970 and 1990 is one of the most important developments in this regard. Istanbul became a gathering point for successful students from all over Turkey, a development that led to increases in its social and cultural capital. Apart from the two respected universities, Istanbul University and Istanbul Technical University, both of which were established before 1950, Bosphorus (Boğaziçi) University, where the instruction was in English, was established in 1973; this was to become one of the most important universities in the country. With the establishment of Marmara University, the number of universities in the city rose to six. Institutions focused on the fine arts, Mimar Sinan University and Yıldız Technical University, were established in 1982. The infrastructure of fifteen additional universities established between 1990 and 2000, and almost thirty after 2000, followed the lead of these universities. With the increase of English-instruction universities, the city gained influence in the circulation of quality individuals in the international field.

During these years of great transformation, Istanbul’s planning and management system experienced significant changes. Between 1950 and 1990 more than thirty municipalities were established in locations where new settlements and populations were growing. The growth of import substitution increased with every aspect of the development program that had been implemented in the period between 1963 and 1972; a number of municipal services were enacted at this time as well. After the military coup in 1980, municipalities in the metropolitan area were merged, İSKİ (Istanbul water and canalization administration) was established, and in 1984 the duties of the municipal system were changed from a metropolitan system with district municipalities to a two-tier management system. Estates in the apartmentalized zones, following the Law of Property Ownership in 1954, were now included in legal definitions. Property development began after 1950. Six shantytown Construction Amnesties, given between 1949 and 1984, enabled the commercialization of shantytown zones over time and their inclusion in the circle of urban income accelerated their transition into a medium for acquiring wealth. In particular, from the mid-1970s, and starting from the first settlement of shantytown zones, many shantytown regions rapidly became transformed into apartments. Major investments from building societies and private cooperatives, which increased in number after 1980 and were provided with legal assurance, were also important. One of the leading improvements that shaped these advances was the development and displacement in the fields of industry and trade. After the 1960s, there was a spread of industrial enterprises towards the coast of the Golden Horn, and the Zeytinburnu, Bakırköy, Küçükköy, Rami, and Harbiye regions. Central business areas diversified and varied between 1950 and 1970. Taksim, Harbiye, Mecidiyeköy, Kadıköy and Üsküdar were added to locations in Eminönü and Karaköy. After the Bosphorus Bridge was put into service in 1973, the importance of Mecidiyeköy increased and the main focus of the central business area shifted to northern Istanbul, particularly after 1980. With developments in the Levent-Maslak region after 1990, this focus shifted to the north, strengthening the city’s multi-centered structure.58

From the mid-1980s the decentralization of industry continued towards the city limits on the European and Asian sides. Post-Fordist economic sectors which produced for the domestic market were located on the European side. Fordist businesses, comprised of large-scale factories providing properties and goods for the national market, were relocated on the city limits of the Anatolian side due to the ease of transportation; in this manner they became integrated into the city of Gebze.59 The decentralization of industrial areas accelerated throughout the 1980s (and the following years). Thus, Istanbul developed into a monstrous industrial city by the early 1990s, spreading over a 100 km area from east to west.60

A significant increase was seen in the number of private vehicles in urban transport after the 1950s. Meanwhile, the bus fleet continued to expand. The electrification of the Sirkeci-Halkalı suburban line was completed in 1955, but in 1996 the city’s tramlines were removed. In 1969, the Haydarpaşa-Gebze suburban line was operating with electricity. After 1980, new vehicles were added to the public transportation system, for both municipality and public buses.61 After 1970, an important and influential development was the opening of the Bosphorus Bridge and auxiliary roads in 1973. The bridge connected the city’s two continents with a highway crossing for the first time in history. However, in the 1960s there was widespread public tension over the construction of this bridge, the planning of which had come onto the agenda from time to time in the nineteenth century. Considering the city’s growing industrial production, and the growing prevalence of residential areas on both sides, the bridge was an indispensable logistical construction. However, these logistic necessities did not eliminate the concerns of those who opposed the construction of this bridge for environmental and social reasons. On the contrary, this only verified the hypothesis that Istanbul would become dependent on the construction of several bridges. The second crossing of the Bosphorus, which was put into service in 1988, (Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge) and the third crossing of the Bosphorus, the foundations of which were laid on 29 May 2013, represent the continuous growth of the city to the north. In the same way, the ecological degradation of the Golden Horn basin, which had been turned into a major industrial zone, left its mark on the 1980s.62

The bipolar Cold War world, which emerged in the aftermath of 1945, began to waver by the end of the 1980s. The year 1989 was a harbinger of sorts for Istanbul’s second great transformation (after 1945). At the end of the 1980s, Turkey had a per capita income of 1,370 dollars, a life expectancy of 66 years, an adult literacy rate of 26%, with an urbanization level of over 50%. Its profile was close to the average level of development in other North African and West Asian countries. Compared to advanced capitalist countries, in which authority and job definitions between central and local authorities, in terms of city management, had been clearly established, Turkey was rather ambiguous. Istanbul’s local government had created their land usage plans throughout the 1980s. However, due to political uncertainties, legal disputes over the plans could not be resolved. Important amenities, such as electricity, phone and police services were provided by the central administration. This process was accompanied by a high rate of urbanization in both the country and the city. The 1980s, however, was a period of great decentralization in which an integrated management model was introduced in Istanbul and cities around Turkey. Twofold growth was achieved in terms of the resources allocated from the central budget to major cities during these years. In contrast, it is difficult to claim that there was a sufficient level of autonomy in local governments regarding the use of financial resources, and budgetary growth was often accompanied by mismanagement and waste. From a certain vantage point, this is related to the complexity of the division of power and responsibilities between the central government and local authorities.63

26- The historical Peninsula: The Golden Horn and two sides of Bosporus

28- From the Bridge of 15 July Martyrs (Bosporus Bridge before July 2016) to Sarayburnu: Two sides of the bridge

After 1990, Istanbul’s economic, political and cultural significance increased in line with the rise of local politics. With the introduction of a two-tier management model of administration in 1984 and the subsequent enactment of new zoning laws in 1985, the powers and responsibilities of local government expanded. With the election of the “project-making” mayor Bedrettin Dalan from ANAP Party, a new era began in local politics. The Dalan era put the importance of local politics of Istanbul on the national agenda, with controversial zoning decisions, the distribution of urban rent and numerous controversial projects coming to the fore. The importance of local politics is characterized by consensus between the city’s settled elites and shantytown residents. After the slums were granted large construction amnesties, shantytown communities began to be heavily involved in local politics. Such an alliance regime could not be maintained, however, and support for the shantytowns shifted to the left; the social democrat candidate Nurettin Sözen was subsequently elected to the office of mayor. Istanbul continued to grow in this period, but solutions to infrastructural problems were not forthcoming. Claims of corruption sparked major polarization and fragmentation in the city’s political environment. In the local elections of 1994, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s sweep to victory, the result of a vigorous election campaign, was made possible by the great support from shantytown communities. Many, if not most, of the figures Erdoğan carried with him to the national political arena were administrators with municipal experiences. Thus, in parallel with the strengthening of local politics in Istanbul, the balance of political leadership in the country also changed.64

After 1994, conflicting interests between settled urban elites and shantytown communities started to have an influence on the dominance of the same political line in the management of the municipality. The formation of a dominant political environment in the city, which was accomplished by strengthening and growing on an expanding basis, was parallel to political polarization in the urban space. While an important part of the old and exclusive coastal districts chose not to support this political line, densely populated districts in the internal parts of the city supported Erdoğan’s political movement. As a result, the development of Istanbul’s political geography was intertwined with its economic and social geography.


The ending of the Cold War undoubtedly introduced a silent revolution that defined the aftermath of 1990. Istanbul not only industrialized throughout the Cold War, but grew in population and spatial pattern as well; it was not Istanbul’s former political efficiency that was decisive in this growth, but rather its geo-strategic position. One of the most important reasons Turkey was impelled to be included in the North Atlantic Alliance during the war years was that the Soviet Union wished to claim Istanbul and the Bosphorus. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Istanbul entered a field of versatile temporal and spatial effects. In 1990, therefore, Istanbul started to take on a new position in the region and the global arena; along with a changing political order, the city was home to almost 7.5 million residents. Nearly merging with the cities of the Eastern Marmara region, Istanbul had become the center of a huge urban region. Although it is not possible to summarize this period, during which comprehensive changes were experienced over a short span of about 20 years, this section will discuss central aspects of its changes.

29- From the Bridge of 15 July Martyrs to Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge: Two sides of Bosporus

The topics that come to the fore and the extensiveness of the content after 1990 make clear the increasing importance of Istanbul among world cities. Multi-faceted decentralization in terms of spatial power patterns, concomitant improvements in the highway and railway systems, improvements in public transportation, and the third Bosphorus Bridge all are important. Again, as a result of the risk of earthquake-related natural disasters and the search for different policies to solve housing problems, the city spent much time and energy gentrifying historic districts that had been environmentally damaged. Since 2010, the most important headlines nationwide have been the establishment of two new cities on the Black Sea coast, the construction of the third Bosphorus Bridge and its joining together with the North Anatolia highway, the İzmit-Yalova strait passage and connected highway, the opening an alternative channel to the Bosphorus around Silivri, the construction of the Marmaray underwater intercontinental metro line, the ongoing construction of metro and metrobus lines, and the construction of a new airport to the north of Istanbul that promises to have an annual capacity of up to 150,000,000 passengers. Also, within this framework are the arrangements of new public squares, repurposing and gentrification projects in the postindustrial Golden Horn region, and the construction of large-scale residential areas, including the transformation of shantytown regions. These monumental projects, which demand billions of dollars of investment, have raised concerns and discussions related to the social and ecological future of the city. The city continues to experience nearly continuous growth towards the north and the east-west axes. However, on close inspection of the last twenty years, the city seems to be in the midst of a wave of change much larger than the rapid and comprehensive transformations experienced from 1950 until the 1980s.

30- Two sides of the Golden Horn: Fatih (the one in the front is Fatih Mosque) and Kasımpaşa

The matter of urban renewal and slum clearance has been at the top of the agenda for many in this period of change. From the early 1990s, the problem of the shantytowns has entered a new phase. This process started in the mid-1970s with the beginnings of commercialization. While commercialization originally aimed to profit from urban rents, after the mid-1980s a new era of commercialization emerged in the form of apartmentalization. The actors, nature and structure of such commercialization, however, have begun to change. Struggles over precious land began to come under the control and supervision of influential people and groups. The influence of these groups, whose political influence and citizenship networks were strong, appeared during this process of appropriation and redistribution. Due to the diversity of the social and economic status of immigrants arriving in the city, their means of integration into the city have also changed. With the transformation of slum areas into high-rise buildings, the concept of the shantytown has changed and become more complicated. Due to the complex social origins of the residents of these areas, it was difficult for economic sectors and networks to perceive of these urban communities as part of traditional classifications. Erder conceptualized gecekondu households, with sensitivity towards their different structures, as “rising households,” “isolated households,” and “the poor and impoverishing”.65 In line with the changing dynamics of Istanbul’s economy, the meaning and structure of the informal has also changed. As informal sectors were reorganizing, the sectors evolved separately in a complex manner along different levels of opportunities. This situation changed the expectations and objectives of those involved in these sectors. Informal lines of works started; these not only included great poverty, but also came to embody different manufacturing dynamics due to internal stratification. Outside the social security system, a diverse range of people began to be included in the informal sector, ranging from people who wanted to become rich in a short period of time to those who wanted to get by in the city or those who were supporting families in their home villages.66 Istanbul’s class stratification has recurred throughout the years. In terms of home ownership, patterns behind the chaotic situation of class disintegration became noticeable. The correspondence between those who resided in heavy industrial areas and owned no property with white-collar workers in the coastal regions who owned more than one property is remarkable.67

Between 1990 and 2000, Istanbul continued to be the most important immigrant destination in Turkey. The population growth of the city was still sustained by 60% net immigration and regular growth. Despite decreases in the population growth rate and net immigration rates, this trend still continues. Although it continues to put the city under pressure, immigration is one of the main dynamics behind Istanbul’s liveliness. Economic activities have continued to become diversified. Financial markets, the insurance industry and service sectors have gradually grown in importance. Growth trends in all aspects of the city have also changed the position of Turkish cities in terms of their economic divisions of labor. Between 1990 and 2000, Istanbul’s economic structure has changed from being predominantly occupied with manufacturing to the one relying increasingly on trade, transportation and service sectors. Industrial cities that emerged in Anatolia in the same period attained new positions and activities in the Turkish manufacturing industry.68

A recent study reveals detailed findings about the structure of Istanbul’s trade and industry. In spite of decentralizing an important part of its industry, industrial production in the metropolis’ periphery appears to have continued growing. The city’s transformation from a single centralized structure to a multi-centered metropolis occurred in parallel with global urban trends. The distribution of commercial activities in the city exhibits the simultaneous trends of centralization and expansion. Parallel to this, the historic city center continues to be a kind of incubator for small-scale companies. In addition to these findings, according to Yılmaz, the city is a global metropolis. This global metropolis represents a flexible and global urban structure which is “multicentered and consists of nodes”.69 “This structure complies with the concepts of sub cities within the scope of new urban ecology, development corridors, border cities, and unlimited urban concepts.”70 Developing alongside the history of the gecekondu, Istanbul’s districts exhibited a blue-collar labor force dominated by the fields of textile work, other manufacturing industries, the chemical industry, transportation, communications, and construction. Nevertheless, districts located on the coast of the Bosphorus and the sea have had a different division of labor. Here, labor is dominated by white and gold-collar work, including the realms of finance, insurance, culture and entertainment services.71 Istanbul’s economic performance between 1990 and 2000 shows striking growth when compared to Turkey’s other cities. While the city’s employment rate was 10.5% of Turkey’s total employment in 1990, it rose to 14% in 2000. In the same period, the employment rate of the other major nine industrialized Turkish metropolises remained almost constant, allowing for a slight increase.

In creating new job opportunities, Istanbul increased its percentage of the increasing national total by producing as much as the other nine metropolises combined. Another feature of this growth has been the rate of female labor in Istanbul. In 1990, 31.9% of blue or white-collar female employment was in Istanbul; this rate increased to 41% in 2000. In the same period in all the other nine major metropolises, this rate was 30.6% in 1990 and 34.1% in 2000. According to the statistics from 1990, Istanbul’s share of national employment figures increased by 3.3 points in 2000. In terms of increasing visibility of blue-collar female labor and their significant concentration in the fields of non-agricultural economic activity, there was a striking increase in the number of women in business life in 2000. The principal result obtained from the comparison of economic sector census data from 1990 and 2000 is the dominant position and attraction of Istanbul’s non-agricultural service sector in the hierarchy of Turkey’s settlements.72

31- Republican Era Istanbul and the world cities (Map: Oğuz Kallek)

One of the most important changes Istanbul has experienced since 1990 has been the significant transformation in higher education. The field of higher education has continuously grown in the last twenty years. The total number of state universities rose from six in the early 1990s to forty-five by the end of 2012. Thirty-six of these universities were established as private higher education institutions. In 1985, there were 95,000 students studying in various higher education programs, with 11,600 of these graduating per year. In 2000, the number of students studying in various higher education programs was 193,000, while the number of annual graduates rose to 30,500. By 2012, the number of students in Istanbul universities rose to 405,000, while the number of students graduating annually increased to 60,000. In 1990, the number of faculty members working in higher education institutions in Istanbul was 8,100, while in 2000 this number rose to 12,000, and in 2012 to 23,000. Between 1985 and 2012, 851,230 people graduated from programs in different levels of higher education institutions in Istanbul. 124,002 of these obtained associate degrees, 593,639 obtained undergraduate degrees, 112,717 obtained master’s degrees, 16,131 obtained Ph.D. degrees, and 5,741 graduated from specialty medical programs. Of these graduates, 31.5% graduated from Istanbul University, 22.3% from Marmara University, 10.7% from Istanbul Technical University, 8.7% from Yıldız Technical University, and 5% from Boğaziçi University. The percentage of these schools in relation to the total number of graduates is 78%. The remaining 22% graduated from universities that opened after 1990. In recent years, there have been significant increases in the number of graduates from newly opened public and private higher education institutions.73 In terms of progress in trade sectors, employment markets and higher education, this transformation took place in conjunction with Istanbul’s increasing importance on the global stage and in comparison with other metropolises.

In the 1990s, one of the most important events held in Istanbul was “Habitat II: the World Conference on Human Settlements.” This event provided a platform for the discussion of urbanization and housing problems in poor and developing countries, and it had a significant impact on the city’s development. The majority of the large political cadre, which made up the Turkish government during the 2000s, was in charge of Istanbul’s municipal operations. With the considerable efforts of national and international groups invested in solving housing and environmental issues, awareness levels surrounding these issues were raised among residents of Istanbul and Turkey alike.

There is a direct link between the agenda of the Habitat conference, Kiptaş (established by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality to aid in housing production), and the policies of TOKİ (which became a prominent player in the housing sector after the 2000s). In less than a decade, TOKİ built more than 100,000 housing units in Istanbul alone, and more than 500,000 housing units across the country. In this respect, the Habitat conference had an immediate effect on local administrators of the period, and government officials in the following period, to put housing production and urban transformation programs at the top of the list of pressing national issues.74

The other side of the process is that a new settlement type, in keeping with global trends, referred to as gated communities or housing complexes, has changed the look of the city. The increases in the number of these housing types and social polarization have progressed concomitantly. Their total number exceeded 650 in 2005 and is still growing exponentially; these settlements answer the deep security concerns of the global metropolis and the separation strategies of the upper classes. Equipped with high security, these settlements are comprised of different housing areas within themselves, demonstrating clear social separation and stratification. Not only do they contain small groups, there are also examples that can accommodate middle and large-scale populations. Residing in these housing complexes, which use natural threats such as social and environmental risk perceptions and earthquake resistance as an intense marketing strategy, also marks symbolically class-based values.75

The discussion of urban transformation can be examined from several aspects. The first is a kind of settlement that brings people living in different parts of the city into new housing areas. Another is based on attempts to provide home ownership via monthly rent to those who lack a fixed income and who live in slums or deprived areas. The last is a type of gentrification that is conducted in old city centers, which consist of derelict buildings; this has typically aroused considerable social opposition. After 2005, these phenomena have shaped the most important stages of sociological change and the history of social movements in Istanbul. Urban renewal projects in Tarlabaşı and Ayazma, which are symbolic areas of such transformations, have come into the focus of urban opposition and researchers. Forms of struggle and legal discussion have also come to the fore, leading to revisions of former policies.76

Istanbul is a city with a tendency to grow and integrate with global trends, but whose internal tensions are concomitantly heightened. According to Sassen at the meeting on “Urbanage”, Istanbul is one of the most prominent flourishing European cities. This is a result of increasing human capital, different levels of educational institutions, and increased political activity. Istanbul’s importance in tourism has grown gradually, and the city has become one of the leading tourism areas in Turkey. However, when values from the “comprehensive strength index” are considered, such as its location among other world metropolises, the deployment of financial capital, the rate of R&D investments and their contribution to the city economy, cultural exchange, livability, access and environment, Istanbul does not rank among the top thirty-five global cities.77 It should be noted that these kinds of rankings can vary due to changing criteria. Although Istanbul ranked high among global cities in recent decades, its current dynamism and efficiency, particularly in terms of economic power, is still limited.

Istanbul’s competitive power is limited in the fields of finance, insurance, real estate, fashion, advertising, and R&D activities, all of which are strategic sectors of neoliberal economies. The headquarters of the thirty major banks that steer the global economy are in the large metropolises in the USA, Europe and Japan. In terms of direct foreign investments throughout the 1990s, Turkey and Istanbul have lagged behind although at times Istanbul has stood out. In consideration of the hierarchies, which cause inequality to form between cities, Istanbul is on the periphery of such a power dynamic78. Despite the initiatives of the central government after 2005 to make the city a financial hub, it has been unable to attain this goal.Important sectors in the most recent period—those which attract foreign investments—have been real estate and property markets. As in other major metropolises around the world, Istanbul has been influenced by the trend to integrate with global financial markets, and such efforts often dominate the discourse of local and national administrators.

The manner in which developments over the last twenty years should be interpreted have also split researchers into different groups. The identification of the city as a process of articulation to the global neoliberal economy and the race of entrepreneurial cities has emerged as just one of these approaches. There is also literature analyzing the transformation of Istanbul on the basis of a center-periphery dialectic, which is widely used as a social-scientific analysis form in Turkey. Finally, research which examines projections for interaction and tension between global and local processes in the city can be used as yet another interpretive framework.


It is nearly impossible to summarize the many changes that have taken place in Istanbul over the last century. This article has attempted to reassess the topic through a sociological lens by considering the importance of socio-technological, political and cultural phenomena. Every stage of Istanbul’s history, spanning the periods of the Republic, the multi-party regime, and ongoing globalization, which in fact began in the mid-nineteenth century,. However, the main routes of its urbanization have been shaped through the city’s development in line with emergent phenomena in the nation, region and world at large. As it evolved into a megalopolis, Istanbul began to be confronted with the same grave management problems that face all giant cities. Another major contemporary concern lies in the ecological sustainability of the area surrounding the city, and whether or not it will be possible to maintain this in the future. Nevertheless, it is astounding that Istanbul has managed to maintain a significant part of its natural beauty in the face of the extensive changes that have taken place in the previous long century. It is evident, however, that Istanbul sacrificed much of its natural beauty and many monumental structures of its cultural heritage to its growth. As a flourishing global city, in the 21st century its charm has increased year by year. It is certain that in order to preserve the cultural and social heritage of the city, not to mention its beauty, residents of the city in the 21st century should make much greater efforts.


1 For socio-technological processes, see: Steve Woolgar, “Science and Technology Studies and the Renewal of Social Theory”, Social Theory and Sociology: The Classics and Beyond, ed. Stephen P. Turner, Cambridge: Blackwell. 2008, pp. 235-255.

2 Adna Ferrin Weber, The Growth of Cities in the Nineteenth Century: A Study in Statistics, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1963 (1. ed., New York: Pub. for Columbia University by the Macmillan Company, 1899).

3 Michel Ragon, Modern Mimarlık ve Şehircilik Tarihi, translated by M. A. Erginöz, Istanbul: Kabalcı Yayınevi, 2010.

4 Lewis Mumford, The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects, New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1961, pp. 446-481.

5 David Harvey, Paris: Modernitenin Başkenti, translated by Berna Kılınçer, Istanbul: Sel yayıncılık, 2012; David Harvey, “The Right to the City”, New Left Review, 2008, no. 53, pp. 23-40. In this period, New York and the large metropolises of the Far East would be influenced by the Haussmanization school.

6 Kemal Karpat, The Politicization of Islam: Reconstructing Identity, State, Faith and Community in the Late Ottoman State, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001, pp. 121-160, 258-307.

7 Ilham Khuri-Maqdisi, “Ottoman Arabs in Istanbul, 1860-1914: Perceptions of Empire, Experiences of the Metropole through the Writings of Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq, Muhammad Rashid Rida, and Jirji Zeydan”, Imperial Geographies in Byzantine and Ottoman Space, edited by Sahar Bazzaz, Yota Batsaki and Dimiter Angelov, Cambridge: Distributed by Harvard University Press, 2013, pp. 159-182.

8 Ragon, Modern Mimarlık, pp. 267-513.

9 For a detailed and wide-ranging description of the period, see: Kemal Karpat, “The Social and Economic Transformation of Istanbul in the Nineteenth Century”, Studies on Ottoman Social and Political History, Selected Articles and Essays, edited by Kemal Karpat, Leiden: Brill, 2002, pp. 243-290; Kemal Karpat, Ottoman Population: 1830-1914 Demographic and Social Characteristics, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.

10 Michel Carmona, Paris’in Kentsel Dönüşümü: Haussmann Uygulamaları, translated by M. A. Erginöz, Istanbul: Genar Araştırma Eğitim Danışmanlık, 2000; Murat Gül, The Emergence of Modern Istanbul: Transformation and Modernization of a City, London and New York: Tauris Academic Studies, 2009, p. 52.

11 Edward C. Clark, “Osmanlı Sanayi Devrimi”, Osmanlılar ve Batı Teknolojisi: Yeni Araştırmalar, Yeni Görüşler, edited by Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Istanbul: İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi, 1992, pp. 37-51.

12 Zeynep Çelik, The Remaking of Istanbul: Portrait of an Ottoman City in the Nineteenth Century, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1986; Gül, The Emergence of Modern Istanbul, pp. 7-71.

13 Edhem Eldem, Bankalar Caddesi: Osmanlı’dan Günümüze Voyvoda Caddesi, Istanbul: Osmanlı Bankası Bankacılık ve Finans Tarihi Araştırma ve Belge Merkezi, 2000.

14 Wolfgang Müller-Wiener, Bizans’tan Osmanlı’ya İstanbul Limanı, translated by Erol Özbek, Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları 1998, pp. 154-158; Tevfik Çavdar, “Kentiçi Ulaşımın Tarihsel Gelişimi: Şirket-i Hayriye”, Türkiye Birinci Şehircilik Kongresi, edited by Yiğit Gülöksüz, Ankara: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi Şehir ve Bölge Planlama Bölümü, 1982, vol. 1, pp. 169-182.

15 Gül, The Emergence of Modern Istanbul, pp. 40-71; Ayşe Derin Öncel, Apartman: Galata’da Yeni Bir Konut Tipi, Istanbul: Kitap Yayınevi, 2010; Christoph K. Neumann, “Modernitelerin Çatışması Altıncı Daire-i Belediye, 1857-1912”, İstanbul: İmparatorluk Başkentinden Megakente, edited by Yavuz Köse, translated by Ayşe Dağlı, Istanbul: Kitap Yayınevi, 2011, pp. 426-453.

16 Ekmel Derya, “İstanbul Limanının Kuruluşu”, Türkiye Birinci Şehircilik Kongresi, edited by Yiğit Gülöksüz, Ankara 1982, vol. 1, pp. 145-168; Semih Tezcan, İstanbul ve Marmara Limanları Master Plan Raporu, project director: Semih Tezcan, Istanbul: Boğaziçi Üniversitesi Matbaası, 1976, vol. 1, section 1.

17 Asu Aksoy, Funda Açıkbaş and Ayşenur Akman, “Silahtarağa Elektrik Santralı’nın Hikâyesi”, Silahtarağa Elektrik Santralı: 1910-2004, edited by Asu Aksoy, Istanbul: Bilgi Üniversitesi Yayınları, 2007, pp. 1-33; Murat Güvenç, “İstanbul’da İkinci Sanayi Devrimi: Yeni Bir Kentsel Araştırma Programına Doğru”, Silahtarağa Elektrik Santralı: 1910-2004, edited by Asu Aksoy, Istanbul: Bilgi Üniversitesi Yayınları, 2007, pp. 53-55.

18 İlhan Tekeli, “19. Yüzyılda İstanbul Metropol Alanının Dönüşümü”, Modernleşme Sürecinde Osmanlı Kentleri, edited by Paul Dumont and François Georgeon, translated by Ali Berktay, Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı yurt Yayınları, 1999, pp. 28-30.

19 Alan Duben and Cem Behar, İstanbul Haneleri: Evlilik, Aile ve Doğurganlık 1880-1940, Istanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 1999, pp. 61-134, 255-264.

20 Şerif Mardin, “Tanzimat’tan Sonra Aşırı Batılılaşma”, Türk Modernleşmesi, Istanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 2000, pp. 21-79.

21 Mardin, “Tanzimat’tan Sonra Aşırı Batılılaşma”, pp. 40-41.

22 Mehmet Ö. Alkan, “İmparatorluk’tan Cumhuriyet’e Modernleşme ve Ulusçuluk Sürecinde Eğitim”, Osmanlı Geçmişi ve Bugünün Türkiye’si, edited by Kemal Karpat, translated by Sönmez Taner, Istanbul: Bilgi Üniversitesi Yayınları, 2005, pp. 180-234.

23 İlhan Tekeli, “Cumhuriyet Öncesinde Üniversite Kavramının Ortaya Çıkışı ve Gerçekleşmesinde Alınan Yol”, Türkiye’de Üniversite Anlayışının Gelişimi: 1861-1961, edited by Namık Kemal Aras et al., Ankara: Türkiye Bilimler Akademisi Yayınları, 2010, pp. 34-43.

24 Çağlar Keyder, “A Brief History of Modern Istanbul”, The Cambridge History of Turkey: Turkey in the Modern World, ed. Rashad town, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008, vol. 4, pp. 507-508; Peyami Safa’s Fatih-Harbiye and Halide Edip’s Vurun Kahpeye are novels that vividly express these cultural and political tensions.

25 Clarence Richard Johnson (ed.), İstanbul 1920, translated by Sönmez Taner, Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 1995.

26 Fred Field Goodsell, “Tarihsel Görünüm”, Istanbul 1920, edited by Clarence Richard Johnson, translated by Taner Sonmez, Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 1995, pp. 76-81.

27 Doğan Kuban, İstanbul, Bir Kent Tarihi: Bizantion, Konstantinopolis, Istanbul, Istanbul: İş Bankası Yayınları, 2012, pp. 501-508; Gül, The Emergence of Modern Istanbul, pp. 72-126.

28 Yahya Sezai Tezel, Cumhuriyet Döneminin İktisat Tarihi, 5th edition, Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı yurt Yayınları, 2002, pp. 97-100; Çağlar Keyder, The Definition of a Peripheral Economy: Turkey 1923-1929, Cambridge: Cambridge university Press, 1981, pp. 90-96.

29 Cânâ Bilsel and Pierre Pinon (editors), İmparatorluk Başketinden Cumhuriyetin Modern Kentine: Henri Proust’un İstanbul’u Planlaması (1936-1951), Istanbul: İstanbul Araştırmaları Enstitüsü, 2010; Gül, The Emergence of Modern Istanbul, pp. 72-126.

30 Turgut Cansever, İstanbul’u Anlamak, Istanbul: İz Yayınları, 1998, pp. 135-145.

31 Ahmet Davutoğlu, Stratejik Derinlik: Türkiye’nin Uluslararası Konumu, Istanbul: Küre Yayınları, 2001, pp. 165-169.

32 Sheila Pelizzon and John Casparis, “World Human Welfare”, The Age of Transition: Trajectory of the World System, edited by Terence K. Hopkins and Immanuel Wallerstein, London and New Jersey: Zed Books, 1996, pp. 117-147.

33 Mark Gottdiener and Lesli Budd, Key Concepts of Urban Studies, London: Sage, 2005, p. 141.

34 Peter Hall, The World Cities, New York: World University Press, 1966, pp. 7-29, 157-158.

35 İlhan Tekeli, Göç ve Ötesi, Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 2008, pp. 50-54.

36 İhsan Bilgin, “Modernizmin Şehirdeki İzleri”, Defter, 1995, no. 23, p. 97.

37 Mike Davis, The Planet of Slums, London and New York: Verso, 2006; Mike Davis, Üzerinde Güneş Batmayan Katliam: El Nino Kıtlıkları ve Üçüncü Dünyanın Açlıkla İnşası, translated by Umut Haskan, Istanbul: Yordam Kitap, 2009.

38 Şevket Pamuk, Osmanlıdan Cumhuriyete Küreselleşme, İktisat Politikaları ve Büyüme, Seçme Eserleri II, Istanbul: İş Bankası Yayınları, 2008, p. 252.

39 İrvin Cemil Schick and E. Ahmet Tonak, “Uluslararası Boyut: Ticaret, Yardım ve Borçlanma”, Geçiş Sürecinde Türkiye, edited by İrvin Cemil Schick and E. Ahmet Tonak, Istanbul: Belge Yayınları, 1990, pp. 354-385.

40 Gül, The Emergence of Modern Istanbul, pp. 140-171.

41 Çağlar Keyder, “Türkiye Demokrasisinin Ekonomi Politiği”, Geçiş Sürecinde Türkiye, ed. İrvin Cemil Schick and E. Ahmet Tonak, Istanbul: Belge Yayınları, 1990, pp. 64-65.

42 Interview, “Murat Güvenç ile İstanbul’un Son Yüzyılı Üzerine”, Türkiye Araştırmaları Literatür Dergisi, 2010, vol. 8, no. 16, pp. 424-426.

43 Keyder, “Türkiye Demokrasisinin Ekonomi Politiği”, pp. 63-75.

44 Ruşen Keleş, Kentleşme ve Konut Politikası, Ankara: AÜSBF Yayınları, 1984, pp. 356-368.

45 Kemal H. Karpat, Türkiye’de Toplumsal Dönüşüm: Kırsal Göç, Gecekondu ve Kentleşme, Ankara: İmge Yayınları, 2003, pp. 110-111.

46 Tansı Şenyapılı, “Cumhuriyetin 75. Yılı, Gecekondu’nun 50. Yılı”, 75 Yılda Değişen Kent ve Mimarlık, edited by Yıldız Sey, Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 1998, pp. 301-316; Alim Arlı, “Cumhuriyet Döneminde Türkiye’de Şehirleşme ve Gecekondu Araştırmaları”, Türkiye Araştırmaları Literatür Dergisi, 2005, vol. 3, no. 6, pp. 283-352.

47 Karpat, Türkiye’de Toplumsal Dönüşüm.

48 Karpat, Türkiye’de Toplumsal Dönüşüm, pp. 27-89.

49 S. Kemal Kartal, Ekonomik ve Sosyal Yönleriyle Türkiye’de Kentlileşme, Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 1983.

50 İlhan Tekeli, Yiğit Gülöksüz and Tarık Okyay, Gecekondulu, Dolmuşlu, İşportalı Şehir, Istanbul: Cem Yayınevi, 1976.

51 Tansı Şenyapılı, Gecekondu ‘Çevre’ İşçilerin Mekânı, Ankara: ODTÜ Mimarlık Fakültesi Yayınları, 1981.

52 Metin Heper, Türkiye’de Kent Göçmeni ve Bürokratik Örgütler, Istanbul: Üçdal Neşriyat, 1983.

53 Murat Güvenç and Oğuz Işık, Emlak Bankası: 1926-1998, Istanbul Emlak Bankası Yayınları, 1999, pp. 153-189.

54 Cansever, İstanbul’u Anlamak, p. 136, 144-153

55 The Human Settlements Conditions of the World’s Urban Poor, Nairobi: Un Habitat, 1996, pp. 74-76.

56 Güvenç and Işık, Emlak Bankası, pp. 89-116.

57 Dilek Güven, Cumhuriyet Dönemi Azınlık Politikaları Bağlamında 6-7 Eylül Olayları, Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 2005.

58 Erol Tümertekin, İstanbul: İnsan ve Mekân, İstanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 1997; İlhan Tekeli, İstanbul’un Planlanmasının ve Gelişmesinin Öyküsü, Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları,2013, pp. 162-335.

59 Murat H. Güvenç, “Introduction to Structural Landscape Analysis: Overviews on the Industrial Landscapes of Greater Istanbul” (Ph.D Dissertation), Middle East Technical University, 1992.

60 Murat Güvenç, “Metropol Değil Azman bir Sanayi Kenti”, Istanbul, 1993, v. 5, pp. 75-81.

61 Tekeli, İstanbul’un Planlanmasının ve Gelişmesinin Öyküsü, pp. 162-335.

62 Kuban, İstanbul, Bir Kent Tarihi, pp. 537-545.

63 Alan Duben, The Middle Eastern City: An Urban Management Perspective, Istanbul: IULA-EMME, 1992, pp. 29, 88-89, 101-103.

64 Sema Erder and Nihal İncioğlu, Türkiye’de Yerel Politikanın Yükselişi: İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi Örneği, 1984-2004, Istanbul: İstanbul Bilgi Üniversitesi Yayınları, 2008.

65 Sema Erder, İstanbul’a Bir Kent Kondu: Ümraniye, Istanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 1996.

66 Tansı Şenyapılı, “Enformel Sektör: Devingenlikten Durağanlığa/Gecekondulaşmadan Apartmanlaşmaya”, Devlet Reformu: Yoksulluk, edited by A Halis Akder and Murat Güvenç, Istanbul: TESEV Yayınları, 2000, pp. 161-183.

67 Murat Güvenç and Oğuz Işık, “İstanbul’u Okumak: Statü Konut Mülkiyeti Farklılaşmasına İlişkin Bir Çözümleme Denemesi”, Toplum ve Bilim, 1996, no. 71, pp. 6-60.

68 Murat Güvenç, “Küreselleşme Bağlamında İstanbul’a Göç ve İstanbul’dan Göç”, Eski İstanbullular Yeni İstanbullular, edited by Murat Güvenç, Istanbul: Osmanlı Bankası Arşiv ve Araştırma Merkezi, 2009, pp. 130-140.

69 Gülsen Yılmaz, “Kentsel Planlamada Yeni Temsil Biçimlerine Doğru: İstanbul Ticari Peyzajında Tarihi ve Coğrafi Çözümlemeler” (Ph.D Dissertation), Gazi University, 2009, pp. 326-330.

70 Yılmaz, “Kentsel Planlamada Yeni Temsil Biçimlerine Doğru”, p. 327.

71 Alim Arlı, “Küreselleşen İstanbul’da Sosyo-Mekânsal Farklılaşma”, Kültürler Başkenti İstanbul, edited by Fahameddin Başar, Istanbul: Türk Kültürüne Hizmet Vakfı Yayınları, 2010, pp. 516-524.

72 Alim Arlı, “Sosyal Mekânda Farklılaşma: Denizli’de Kırsal/Kentsel Dönüşüm (1990-2000)” (Ph.D Dissertation), Istanbul University, 2009, pp. 82-106.

73 Given number and proportions are calculated by me over the raw data retrieved from Higher Education Statistics yearbooks (from 1983 to 2012) .

74 Alim Arlı, “Habitat II Tartışmaları ve İstanbul’da Toplumsal Dönüşüm”, Türkiye Araştırmaları Literatür Dergisi, 2010, vol. 8, no. 16, pp. 367-388.

75 Jean-François Pérouse, İstanbul’la Yüzleşme Denemeleri: Çeperler, Hareketlilik ve Kentsel Bellek, Istanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 2011, pp. 133-228; compare Pierre Bourdieu, “Site Effects”, The Weight of The World: Social Suffering in Contemporary Society, edited by. Pierre Bourdieu et al., Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999, pp. 123-129.

76 Tuna Kuyucu and Özlem Ünsal, “Neo-Liberal Kent Rejimiyle Mücadele: Başıbüyük ve Tarlabaşı’nda Kentsel Dönüşüm ve Direniş”, İstanbul Nereye?: Küresel Kent, Kültür, Avrupa, edited by Deniz Göktürk et al., Istanbul: Metis Yayınları, 2011, pp. 85-106.

77 Saskia Sassen, “The Immutable Intersection of Vast Mobilities”, Istanbul City of Intersections, Istanbul: London School of Economics and Poltical Science, 2009, pp. 5-7.

78 Saskia Sassen, Cities in a World Economy, California: Pine Forge Press, 2000.

This article was translated from Turkish version of History of Istanbul with some editions to be published in a digitalized form in 2019.