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Chapter 4: The functional transformation of Elmadağ

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1In this chapter we attempt to make some pre­dictions about the future of Elmadağ, which has been going through a functional transformation process under the influences of business incli­nations during the last decades. In order to shed light on the question whether Elmadağ is going to appear as a business location in the future, we first analyze the historical change in Harbiye neighborhood and then the functional transformation of Cumhuriyet Street as well as the streets of Elmadağ in terms of their special­ization on different occupations.

  • 98 We use bobo as an abbreviation for “bohemian bourgeoisieˮ as mainly used by scholars in the field o (...)

2Our second concern in this chapter is about the present and prospective residents of Elmadağ: “Who are going to stay or leave the neigh­borhood and why” are the two questions that can give us some clues about the future socio­economic structure of the neighborhood. As we will discuss in the following pages, Elmadağ is gaining more and more a “transit” character regarding the fact that many old Muslim and non-Muslim families are ready to leave the neighborhood as soon as they provide the eco­nomic means, whereas immigrants, students, bobos98 and wage earner singles are moving in the neighborhood yet mostly for a “temporary stay”. One of our concerns in this chapter is to explain the reasons and consequences of this constant “moving in-moving out” circulation, or in other words, of the flux within the neighbor­hood.

Harbiye

3In the period between 1839-1923, the historical peninsula (Kapalıçarşı, Mahmut Paşa, Mısır Çar­şısı, Tahtakale) and Galata-Pera-Beyoğlu district were two basic shopping centers in Istanbul. While the traditional shops were mainly locat­ed in the historical peninsula, business firms, large stores and banks were all opened in Galata- Pera district where a modern style of specializa­tion was developed (Berkmen Yakar, 2000, 119). On the other hand, during this period Beyoğlu was symbolizing a Western style of culture, shopping and entertainment. However, Galata- Pera-Beyoğlu district of Istanbul declined dramatically following the exodus of its non- Muslim population to foreign countries espe­cially after the events of Wealth Tax (1942), 6th- 7th September Events (1955) and Cyprus Con­flict (1963-64). The departure of non-Muslim community from Galata-Pera-Beyoğlu resulted in radical transformations in the texture of these neighborhoods.

4With the acceleration of internal immigra­tion in the 1950s, there was a radical increase in the urban population, which resulted in a great demand for housing. The emergence of shantytowns in the periphery of Istanbul built by the immigrants as well as luxurious apartments constructed by the new commercial bourgeoisie in the city were the two opposite developments experienced during the Demo­crat Party era which signified the beginning of liberal economy and populist policies in the country. Under the leadership of Adnan Menderes, new roads were constructed or already existing ones were expanded by demolishing old houses. This road construction activ­ity of the Menderes era was in parallel with rapidly increasing number of motor vehicles in Istanbul. However, these new construction activities lacking any concern of urban plan­ning damaged the natural texture of the city.

Photo 20 Tourism agencies on the Cumhuriyet Street.

Photo 20 Tourism agencies on the Cumhuriyet Street.

Tomurcuk Bilge Erzik, August 2003

  • 99 As the city expanded demographically and spatially, there occurred a need for municipal rearrangeme (...)
  • 100 These apartments were constructed in the place of the Armenian and Latin cemeteries, which had been (...)
  • 101 While H. Prost was studying on the public plan of Istanbul in 1930s, he designed Gümüşsuyu-Taksim-H (...)
  • 102 The name of Istanbul Sports and Exhibition Center was changed into Lütfi Kırdar Sports and Exhibito (...)

5During 1950s the number of Central Busi­ness Districts in Istanbul increased and they are extended towards Şişli99 in parallel to the spread of high-income residential and business areas. Consequently, new Central Business Districts such as Harbiye, Osmanbey and Mecidiyeköy developed along with the old ones (Tümertekin, 1997, 197-99). Harbiye appeared as a popular residential area for upper and upper-middle classes especially with the con­struction of huge Western style buildings on the Cumhuriyet Street starting with the late 1940s100. As a neighborhood, Harbiye has always been the location carrying the ideological reflections of different governments in its texture, which can be exemplified in forms of distinct architectural designs of different eras. Examples of both “national” and “international” styles of architecture, which were the products of two successive governments pursuing differ­ent policies, can still be observed in Harbiye today. The “national style” in 1940s was ground­ed on the doctrines of rationalism and functionalism and it represented the modernist aesthetics, which was most conspicuous in public build­ings mostly awarded in the national architec­ture contests. Some of the examples of this style located in the vicinity are Istanbul Open Air Theatre [Istanbul Açıkhava Tiyatrosu] (1947)101, Sports and Exhibition Center [Spor ve Sergi Sarayı] (1949)102 and Istanbul Radio Station [Istanbul Radyoevi] (1949).

6On the other hand, the “international style” in architecture “with its concrete slabs and glazed skin surfaces” started to be designed dur­ing the Democrat Party period by prominent Turkish architects.

  • 103 Hilton was designed by the well-known American architects Skidmore, Owings and Merill and Sedat Hak (...)

[E]ven an architect like Sedad Hakkı Eldem who advocated a state- sponsored ‘national’ style in 1930s and 1940s later became a local collaborating architect for Hilton Hotel in Istanbul, a hallmark of ‘international style”103 (Bozdoğan, 1997, 141).

  • 104 At the gala opening of the hotel, Conrad Hilton names the ideological significance of the hotel’s l (...)

7The construction of Istanbul Hilton can be seen as one of the first signs of Americanization in Turkey. It not only exemplified an American concept of hotel but also signified the introduc­tion of American policy in the country104 (Wharton, 1999, 296).

8The construction of Hilton in Istanbul in 1955 and then Divan Hotel in 1956 redefined the functional status of the neighborhood and con­tributed to the shift of new corporate and banking center to the north. Real estate prices soared; tourism agencies and airline offices were all clustered around these hotels; and branches of several banks were opened during those years. In brief, during 1950-60s Harbiye was a symbol of modern life with its newly constructed Western type of apartments, cinemas, theatres, restaurants, nightclubs, hotels and public buildings.

9The opening of the Boğaziçi Bridge in 1973 caused the Central Business Districts to move towards the north of the city. While the general directorates of big firms, large commercial buildings and international hotels started to move from Taksim, Harbiye and Osmanbey to Mecidiyeköy, offices of bars, doctors and lawyers shifted from Sirkeci, Cağaloğlu, Nuruosmaniye to Taksim, Osmanbey, Nişantaşı (Osmay, 1999, 144). In the end of 1970s, sever­al Central Business Districts emerged in Istan­bul specializing on different service sectors but being interdependent to each other. Tümertekin talks about nine Central Business Districts in Istanbul, namely Aksaray, Eminönü, Karaköy, İstiklal Street, Osmanbey, Mecidiyeköy, Beşiktaş, Üsküdar, Kadıköy (1997, 187).

10During the late 1980s a new business center emerged on the axis of Büyükdere Street. General directorates of holdings and banks (Sabancı Center, İşbank Plaza, Medya Plaza, Yapı Kredi Plaza) and entertainment and shopping malls (Akmerkez) all moved towards Büyükdere Street axis for the aim of meeting their needs of a larger space, a better infrastructure and trans­portation. Consequently, Harbiye lost its valua­ble position relatively as a business center after the movement of general directorates of several holdings and banks to Büyükdere Street axis. However, this transformation does not mean that Harbiye has been turning out to be a pure residential area or a decaying business center since it is still an active business area in terms of accommodating the tourism, banking and entertainment sectors in Istanbul.

Cumhuriyet Street

  • 105 There are approximately 150 tourism agencies operating on the Elmadağ-Harbiye axis (http://www.neva (...)

11One of the most important streets on the Harbiye-Osmanbey axis is the Cumhuriyet Street of which residential and functional transforma­tion has directly influenced the structure of Elmadağ. As we mentioned above, tourism, banking and entertainment sectors in Istanbul are mostly located on the Cumhuriyet Street in Harbiye. The tourism offices, which were first opened during the mid-1950s with the con­struction of hotels, significantly transformed the functional and social structure of the neighborhood105. The presence of tourism offices led to the opening of other professional domains related to tourism sector such as airline offices and transporters.

Photo 21 The land of the old Şan Theatre, which is today used as an open-air car park.

Photo 21 The land of the old Şan Theatre, which is today used as an open-air car park.

Tomurcuk Bilge Erzik, August 2003

12Another significant sector characterizing the street is banking. The branches of several banks on the street have been opened and closed con­tinuously in accordance to the economic insta­bilities of the country. It is important to note that after the recent economic crises many of the properties on the street were vacated and left idle because of the high real estate prices and economic difficulties that business firms have been passing through.

  • 106 The renovation of Cumhuriyet Street was initiated by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality in 2001. Th (...)

13On the Cumhuriyet Street, which has been an entertainment location for years, there are many restaurants, nightclubs, cafes and bars. The first examples of nightclubs, bars and discos in Istanbul, such as Panoroma, Kervansaray, Hydromel, Regie were all opened on this street. Besides the expensive restaurants, cafes and bars taking part within the hotels, new luxuri­ous ones are being opened with the impact of the renovation of Cumhuriyet Street106.

Photo 22 Parking lots in the basement of apartment buildings in the inner streets of Elmadağ.

Photo 22 Parking lots in the basement of apartment buildings in the inner streets of Elmadağ.

Tomurcuk Bilge Erzik, August 2003

14However, an opposite inclination is also being experienced by the owners of some old enter­prises on the street. For example, one of our interviewees, owner of a disco on Cumhuriyet Street since the 1960s, suggested that the pro­file of his customers has radically changed in parallel to the declining popularity of the Cum­huriyet Street. He claimed that he had opened one of the first discos in Istanbul which was followed up by many others but the quality of these places as well as of customers have declined as time passes. While his first custom­ers were among the elites of Istanbul, now “shady people” are coming to his place. With the decrease in the number of his customers in consequence of economic difficulties lived in the country, he decided to shut down his disco in the short run.

15The business firms located on the Cumhuri­yet Street have led to the emergence and development of small-scale occupations in Elmadağ. For example, many restaurants, hairdressers and parking lots in the streets of Elmadağ are just opened to serve for the people working at banks, travel agencies and business firms on the Cumhuriyet Street. Although several parking lots are being operated in the streets of Elma­dağ, they are not sufficient enough to meet the demands of people. The fact that every suitable area in the neighborhood is constantly being converted into a parking place demonstrates that running parking lots seems to be one of the most profitable occupations in Elmadağ.

Photo 23 Parking lots in the basement of apartment buildings in the inner streets of Elmadağ.

Photo 23 Parking lots in the basement of apartment buildings in the inner streets of Elmadağ.

Tomurcuk Bilge Erzik, August 2003

16Our observation that the hairdressers in Elmadağ are very crowded in the early mornings with working women as well as the restaurants located in this neighborhood are just open during working hours of the week and very crowded during lunch breaks indicates the fact that many workplaces in Elmadağ are opened to serve the people working around. One of our interviewees, owner of a restaurant, asserted that their restaurant earns money just during the lunch breaks. The restaurant owner has no connection with the local people of Elmadağ suggesting that their customers are merely among working people in the Cumhuriyet Street and their restaurant is closed on Saturdays and Sundays. The only person he knows from Elmadağ is his landlord with whom he has a commercial relationship.

17In brief, the only significant connection between Cumhuriyet Street and Elmadağ seems to be a commercial one: Many people running business in Elmadağ serve for the people work­ing on the Cumhuriyet Street. What is also striking in the neighborhood is the sharp dis­tinction between the two locations, Cumhuriyet Street and the streets of Elmadağ, which sym­bolize two different worlds. While the Cumhuri­yet Street with its Western style apartments and public buildings carries the reflections of differ­ent periods, the latter with its old and small houses constitutes a home of migrants. The passage from Cumhuriyet Street to one of the streets of Elmadağ not only denotes different historical processes of the country but also marks a radical change in the lifestyles of the people who barely come together.

Map II: Istanbul Şehir Rehberi, Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi Yayınları,1989. (scale 1/10000)

Map II: Istanbul Şehir Rehberi, Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi Yayınları,1989. (scale 1/10000)

The streets of Elmadağ

18Since the early 1980s, many business firms have opened their offices in the streets of Elmadağ, on the parts of Ölçek, Babil, Üftade, Turna, Cebeli Topu Streets closer to Cumhuriyet Street. Relatively low prices of real estates attracted the business firms. However, with the economic crises in 2000 November and 2001 February, the economic situations of business firms on Cumhuriyet Street as well as the shop keepers in Elmadağ have sharply deteriorated. In Elma­dağ the real estate prices vary in regard to the locations of streets: the values of real estates decline, as they get closer to Dolapdere or far away from the Cumhuriyet Street. Therefore, the shops and apartments on Babil, Ölçek and Üftade Streets are more valuable than those on Akkarga and Küçükbayır Streets.

19Babil Street, as the heart of the neighbor­hood, has been the most popular and vivid street in Elmadağ. Groceries, butchers, shoe­makers, electricians, pastry-shops, real estate agents, hairdressers, hardware stores, buffets, restaurants are all located on this street. Most of the shopkeepers usually close their shops at a late time. This street signifies not only one of the most valuable streets in Elmadağ in terms of trading but also a public space where most of the men working on this street socialize with each other. During the day, it is possible to witness the groups of men clustering at every corner of the Babil Street. Although in summer nights, women go out and chat in front of their houses, this street is mainly dominated by men.

  • 107 There is only one business firm functioning in a three-floor building on this street that was const (...)

20Families generally live in the Harbiye Çayırı and Çimen Streets, which lie down parallel to Cumhuriyet and Dolapdere Streets. The fact that there are only a few shops (such as groceries) on Çimen Street indicates that the spreading of business offices into the streets of Elmadağ stops before it arrives to Çimen Street107. However, it is pertinent to note that on this street there are some houses that are being used for storing. These houses are rented to business firms as depots concerning the rela­tively low rents and central position of Elmadağ in Istanbul.

Photo 24 Automobile repairers on the Elmadağ Street.

Photo 24 Automobile repairers on the Elmadağ Street.

Tomurcuk Bilge Erzik, August 2003

21There are several nightclubs [pavyon] and bars on the Nispet Street which are generally disapproved by the inhabitants of the neighbor­hood. One of our interviewees having a shop just across a nightclub in Elmadağ but living in Yedikule asserted that

  • 108 “Ben burada oturmam, barlar, pavyonlar var. Aile için, çocuk yetiştirmek için iyi değilˮ.

I do not want to live here. There are bars, nightclubs [pavyons] here. This is not a good place to bring up children or for familiesˮ108.

22According to a policeman working at Harbiye police station, the number of the bars and pavyons in Elmadağ declined recently due to economic difficulties. There was a famous brothel (Varol Brothel) near the intersection point of Nispet and Ölçek Streets, which was closed in the 1980s by Saadettin Tantan when he was the Head of Istanbul Security Department. One of the interviewees claimed that two other brothels located on Nis­pet and Cumhuriyet Streets were also closed along with the Varol brothel and then the pros­titutes started to work privately in Elmadağ. On the other hand, the driving out of transvestites from Ülker and Pürtelaş Streets in Cihangir resulted in the settlement of some of them in Elmadağ.

23Cumhuriyet Street is one of the most popu­lar locations in Istanbul for transvestites. While some of the transvestites find their customers just by waiting on the corners of the streets, the wealthier ones choose to drive on the street. Some of these transvestites live in Elmadağ concerning the facts that their ‘work place’ is nearby and the rents are relatively low in this neighborhood. As we learned from their neigh­bors, transvestites in Elmadağ generally do not work at their homes. Therefore, while some of the inhabitants are indulgent to them, many others want them leave the neighborhood.

  • 109 As we mentioned in the previous chapter, drivers and transporters are very common in Elmadağ concer (...)
  • 110 We think that there was a spatial division of labor in the automobile sector in Istanbul. While Elm (...)

24Both Elmadağ and Yeni Nalbant Streets can be characterized with the automobile repairers109. Especially after 1945, the sharp increase in the population of Istanbul resulted in the rise of the number of automobiles along with that of automobile repairing stores. Elmadağ and Yeni Nalbant Streets were one of the first locations in Istanbul specialized on automobile repair­ing110. However, with the law issued in 1982 which encouraged the automobile repairers in the inner city to set up their business in the periphery of Istanbul, many automobile repair­ers in Elmadağ moved their stores to the places shown by the government. One of the automo­bile spare part sellers argued that there is no future of automobile repairing in Elmadağ and informed us that about 15 stores were closed on Elmadağ Street after the recent economic crises. Moreover, car owners’ preference of big auto­mobile services is another obstacle for the via­bility of small-scale automobile repairing stores which seem to disappear in the long run in Elmadağ.

25Another characteristic of Elmadağ is the pres­ence of pickups selling vegetables in the streets of Elmadağ. This way of selling goods which is very typical of small places still continues in Elmadağ because of the fact that there are very few fruit and vegetable stores and supermarkets in the neighborhood. Although there is a food marketplace in Dolapdere on Sundays, people in Elmadağ do not usually shop there indicating that Dolapdere is a long way to go and “there are Gypsies living in Dolapdere”. A non-verbal tension is apparent between the vegetable sell­ers with pickups and groceries selling basic vegetables in their shops. One of our intervie­wees, owner of a grocery, suggested that the vegetable sellers do not pay taxes to the govern­ment and hence they have the opportunity to sell their foods at a lower price. At the same time, he complained about the supermarket opened on the Cumhuriyet Street a few months ago claiming that his grocery cannot compete with the prices of this market which is being operated by a big holding.

Photo 25 Dolapdere Street located on the eastern border of Elmadağ.

Photo 25 Dolapdere Street located on the eastern border of Elmadağ.

Tomurcuk Bilge Erzik, August 2003

26Akkarga and Küçükbayır Streets locating in the lower side of Elmadağ are the least valuable places in terms of real estates. Gypsies, Kurds and international immigrants dwelling here are economically and culturally marginal­ized people in the eyes of the other inhabitants. People living in the upper side of Elmadağ frequently emphasize their difference from the ones living here such as naming them as dwell­ers of Dolapdere -rather than Elmadağ- and express their discontent of sharing the same neighborhood with them. On the other hand, the ones living in the lower side even next to the Dolapdere Street consider themselves as the dwellers of Elmadağ.

  • 111 Interestingly, when interviewees were asked to define the boundaries of Elmadağ, most of them disti (...)
  • 112 As we mentioned in the methodology chapter we were unable to conduct interviews with the Gypsies li (...)

27Some inhabitants consider the Çimen Street as the symbolic boundary splitting the neighborhood into two parts concerning the economic conditions and cultural patterns of people liv­ing in the upper and lower sides of this street111. The poor ‘new comers’ from Dolapdere and Tarlabaşı are assumed to live in the lower streets of Elmadağ, whereas the “old inhabitants” of Elmadağ are presupposed to dwell in the upper side. However, the “old inhabitant” and “newcomer” categories can only relatively be defined in a neighborhood like Elmadağ, which has been subject to incessant immigration flows for years. Every one who immigrates here before the others considers her/himself as the old inhabitant. However, the Gypsies who have been living in the lower side of Elmadağ for years are still not considered as the members of this neighborhood112. Therefore, the categories of “new and old inhabitants” are distinguished according to the cultural and economic charac­teristics of inhabitants rather than their chron­ological settlements in the neighborhood. For example, the Gypsies, having no access to any upward mobility in both cultural and econom­ic terms would always remain as the permanent “newcomer” in the eyes of some other inhabit­ants. Their presence in Elmadağ would always be a trouble for the reasons of decreasing the rents of real estates, their “life quality” and the condition of safety in the neighborhood. Yet, as we explained in the previous chapter, their presence in the neighborhood enables some others to construct the nostalgia of “Elmadağ in its good days” and a feeling of “we, as the old and real inhabitants of Elmadağ”.

28Today Elmadağ seems to show both residen­tial and business inclinations simultaneously. Although many shops and offices have been opened in the upper side of Elmadağ since the 1980s, we cannot conclude that they would spread the lower side of Elmadağ and convert the neighborhood an entire business location, as one of the interviewees asserted:

  • 113 “Üst kısımlarda işyerleri yayılabilir ancak alt kısımların Dolapdere’ye doğru değişeceğini çok sanm (...)

On the upper side the business offices and shops can disperse but I do not think that the lower side towards Dolapdere will change a lot”113.

  • 114 PIYA project was designed during the mayorship of Bedrettin Dalan in the mid-1980s with an intentio (...)

29The radical change might happen if the PIYA pro­ject on Dolapdere can be realized but it does not seem to be launched in the near future114.

30The economic crises recently experienced in the country have enormous impacts on Elmadağ ending up with the shutting down of many shops and offices. Yet, while many of them are being closed, many enterprises are being put into service. On the other hand, a shopkeeper suggested that the newly opened shops in Elmadağ and on Cumhuriyet Street would economically fail in the short run and he supported his argument with the shutting down of a famous and historical buffet on the Cumhu­riyet Street recently. According to him, in one year about 1,500 working people left Elmadağ, either because their business were shut down or they were fired from their jobs.

31Furthermore, the presence of old-small houses of the neighborhood is an obstacle for the construction of buildings for business firms. The headman of İnönü neighborhood asserted that

  • 115 “Elmadağ şu anda popüler durumda değil. Olması da mümkün değil. Arsaların çoğu 40-60 metrekare. Anc (...)

Elmadağ is not and in fact cannot be very popular. Because the contractors must buy five houses in order to construct one since the areas of houses are about 40-60 square meters”115.

32The fact that only a reasonable num­ber of apartments can be employed as offices especially in the upper side of Elmadağ illus­trates that many apartments would be left for residential purposes. Consequently this pro­vides evidence for the future of Elmadağ as a neighborhood that cannot be converted into an entire business location. On the other hand, the gentrification of the neighborhood seems not possible from now on, since the original archi­tectural tissue of the old houses have already been demolished by the activities of small con­tractors since the 1970s. Therefore, although Elmadağ has an appealing character for several upper-middle class people having cultural cap­ital, it would not be popularized like Cihangir given the fact that today the scene of Elmadağ is more of a patchwork pattern, where the old three-story buildings coexist side by side with the new five-story unpleasant apartments.

33What is more interesting about Elmadağ is its peculiar transformation from an ordinary residential area to a “transit” location in the center of the city. Therefore, focusing merely on the questions of residential and business inclinations in the neighborhood is not ade­quate to comprehend the interesting transition that is just peculiar to this neighborhood. In the next part of this chapter we discuss the profile of current residents in Elmadağ with a focus on the questions of “who are going to stay or leave this neighborhood and why” to shed light on the reasons and consequences of population circu­lation within Elmadağ which would make this neighborhood simply a “transit’”area.

Bobos, students and wage earner singles: Elmadağ as a “transit” location

34The central location of Elmadağ, its closeness to Taksim-Beyoğlu, is the most important reason behind some of the inhabitants’ motive to live in this neighborhood. Nearly all of the bobos (bohemian bourgeoisie), students and wage earner singles dwelling in this neighborhood asserted that they chose to settle in Elmadağ because of its closeness to other central loca­tions.

  • 116 “Komşuluk, çatkapı gelen istemiyorumˮ.

35All the bobos we interviewed live in Arif Paşa Manor, which seems to be an isolated enclave within the neighborhood. Having no connec­tion with the other inhabitants of Elmadağ, the residents of this historical building know very little about the neighborhood. One of our inter­viewees claimed that he came here to live spe­cifically in Arif Paşa Manor. He also asserted that he attaches so much importance to his private life and thus does not like any “unexpectedly visiting neighbors to his flat”116 that could disturb his comfort.

  • 117 “Çalıştığımız için mahallenin içine giremiyoruz. Biz seyirci kısmındayızˮ.
  • 118 “Ya hep evdeyim, ya da buranın tamamen dışındaˮ.

36On the other hand, both low and high-income wage earner singles living in Elmadağ settled in this neighborhood because of its location and they, like bobos have no close relation with the other inhabitants in Elmadağ. While one of them described his situation just as the “specta­tor of neighborhood”117 since his working pre­vents him to be involved in the neighborhood relations, another wage earner explained his experience as having no close relation with the neighborhood since he is always “either at home or out of this neighborhood”118.

Photo 26 and 27 Arif Paşa Manor

Photo 26 and 27 Arif Paşa Manor

Tomurcuk Bilge Erzik, August 2003

37Along with Elmadağ’s central location, the reasonable rents and, for some of interviewees, the ethnic, cultural and religious diversity of the neighborhood are the other incentives behind their preference to live in Elmadağ, as one inter­viewee argued:

  • 119 “Kiralar burada makul. İnsanlar birbirine fazla karışmıyor. Herkesin kendi hayatının içinde abukluk (...)

The rents are reasonable. The people living here is not interested in others’ lives very much. Here in each person’s life there is a lot of nonsense, therefore, nobody wants to involve in others’ livesˮ.119

Photo 27 Arif Paşa Manor

Photo 27 Arif Paşa Manor

Tomurcuk Bilge Erzik, August 2003

38Another interesting point specific to Elma­dağ is the presence of pensions especially serv­ing for single working men. One pension located on Ölçek Street was closed but two others are still operating on Turna and Çimen Streets. The owner of the pension on Çimen Street claimed that they opened their pension in 1994 since nobody was renting their apartments to single men in Elmadağ in those years. Not only the Turkish men but also the foreign employees and tourists (especially Japanese, Italian and English) stay in their pension from 6 months up to 4 years. They charge varied rents to foreign­ers and Turkish citizens, in a range of $150 to $300, including all the facilities. One of the residents of this pension earning good money but preferring to stay in this pension explains his situation as such:

  • 120 “Eşya sorunu ve ev teferruatıyla uğraşmamak için pansiyonu tercih ettimˮ.

Since I did not want to be bothered with the furniture problem and apartment details, I preferred to live in this pen­sion”120.

39While he was telling us his future plans, it became apparent that he considers his stay in this pension and in Elmadağ as a “tempo­rary stay”.

40Elmadağ is also preferred by university stu­dents, thanks to its physical proximity to some university campuses, such as İTÜ-Taşkışla, İTÜ-Makine, İTÜ-Maden, Marmara Univ.-Dişçilik. In spite of the fact that all of these groups are pleased to live in this neighborhood, they do not intend to live here in the future. For exam­ple, two university students claimed that they own the apartment they are living now but if they get married, they are not going to live here. Another one explained his concern explicitly:

  • 121 “Evlenirsem karım istemez burayı, evler harap, semt eski bir yer olduğu için [...] Çocuğum olursa, (...)

If I get married, my wife will not want to stay here since the houses are ruined and the neigh­borhood is very old [...] Also if I have a child, I do not want to stay here again. There is no place to play for the childrenˮ121.

41All these indi­cate that they regard Elmadağ a ‘stopover’ in their lives and consider their settlement here “temporary”. In brief, they are the “transit inhab­itants” of Elmadağ. Yet, what about the other inhabitants of Elmadağ? Do they also consider their stay in Elmadağ temporary or they esti­mate a life long stay here? Who wants to leave/ stay and why?

Leave or stay and why? The future inhabitants of Elmadağ

42As it is salient in our project now, we cannot talk about a homogenous inhabitant population in Elmadağ. The motives for leaving or staying in this neighborhood change in accordance to political, cultural, economic and historical factors which have influenced different groups of residents in various ways.

43For the non-Muslim inhabitants of Elmadağ, we can absolutely talk about a decrease in their number in the long-run. Many of them left the country because of the historical events, such as Wealth Tax in 1942, 6-7 Events in 1955 and Cyprus Conflict in 1964. The non-Muslims dwelling in Elmadağ today are mostly low income families having no economic means either to move to other neighborhoods (mostly, Kurtuluş, Pangaltı, or Yeşilköy) or flee to a for­eign country (mostly Canada and France). Yet, many non-Muslim families’ children still immi­grate to foreign countries in search for a better education, job or life standard as soon as they have the opportunity.

44Many non-Muslims, like many other old inhabitants in Elmadağ, complain about the déclassé status of the neighborhood, which they explain by means of a decline from a mid­dle class to lower-middle class neighborhood and a cultural collapse as a result of never-end­ing immigrations to Elmadağ. An Armenian woman who left Elmadağ 30 years ago and is currently living in the United States stated that

  • 122 “Şimdi saygısızlık çok [...] Medeni insanlar yok olmuş, yobazlar gelmişˮ.

there is no respect in the neighborhood now [...] The civilized people had disappeared and the ignorant people came insteadˮ122

45and she continued to her words,

  • 123 “O zamanlar çok nezihti. Gayrimüslimler vardı. Senin dilini konuşan insanlar vardı. Daha sıcak, sam (...)

in the past, the neigh­borhood was a pleasant place. Non-Muslims were living here. They were speaking the same language with you. The atmosphere was warm and sincere. The income of people was highˮ.123

46Implying the Kurds living in a house just at the corner, she asserted that

  • 124 “Tam köye çevirmişler burayıˮ.

they have converted this neighborhood to a villageˮ124.

47Similarly a Muslim ex-inhabitant of Elmadağ expressed his feelings as such:

  • 125 “‘Ermeniler vardı. Komşuluğu çok iyiydi. Zevkli, sefalı, kibar komşuluk vardı. Sonra bu Kürtler gel (...)

Armenians were living here. We had very good neighborly relations with them. Our relations were polite, enjoyable and pleasant. After the immigration of Kurds here, nobody wanted to walk in the streets with the fear of robbery. When many people flowed into here from Anatolia, they [Armenians] ran away from here”125.

  • 126 ‘Şimdi her türlü milletten geldiler İstanbul’aˮ.

48Another woman whose husband is a lawyer explained her desire to sell her apartment in Elmadağ since “people from all nationalities have come to Istanbu”‘126.

  • 127 It is interesting to see that everybody gave different dates about the comingˮ of the Gypsies to t (...)

49One of the interviewees explained that the Gypsies who had been living in the periphery of Elmadağ settled in the lower streets of neigh­borhood after 1980s127. The interviewee mak­ing fun of the Gypsies continued his words as such:

  • 128 “Bunlar medenileşip, Elmadağ’in aşağı sokaklarına Bay Ahmet Bayan Ayşe olarak yerleştilerˮ.

After being ‘civilized’, they settled in the lower streets of Elmadağ as Mr. Ahmet, Mrs. Ayşe”128.

50On the other hand, the international immigrants, especially the ones from Africa, are often regarded as swindlers and conceived to produce an insecure atmosphere in the neigh­borhood. However, the policeman working at the Harbiye police station informed us that the crimes committed in Elmadağ are generally ordinary ones whose rates are not higher than usual and even lower than the ones in Tarlabaşı and Kurtuluş.

51Considering the Kurds, Gypsies and Africans as the main responsible people of the relative degradation of Elmadağ is a common complaint among not only non-Muslim but also Muslim population of the neighborhood. They are always and continuously conceived as a threat to the security and integrity of those who share a com­mon home. ‘We the people’ is defined against them who have different origins. The struggle for unity and coherence results in the prejudice against those who are defined as different.

52Along with the insecurity concerns raised with the presence of the other ethnic groups, many inhabitants also mentioned that they would like to leave since the neighborly relations in Elmadağ is very weak. One woman asserted that she would like to move to Okmey­danı where her relatives are living all together. She suggested that there are no neighborly rela­tions in Elmadağ where she has been dwelling for two years. Moreover, an Armenian woman argued that

  • 129 “Eskiden komşuluk ilişkisi vardı. Onlar gitti, evleri de yıkıldı. yanımız işyeri oldu. [...] Fırsat (...)

there was neighborly relations in the past. Our neighbors left Elmadağ and their house was destroyed. In place of it, a building belonging to a business firm was constructed. [... ] If I have the opportunity, I will leave tooˮ129.

53However, behind these complaints, it seems that these people do not want to live in Elmadağ anymore as they consider here a culturally corrupted neighborhood where different kinds of people from lower-middle class are dwell­ing. They imply that it is not possible to consti­tute neighborly relations with such people.

54Nevertheless, at the last instance residents’ decision of leaving the neighborhood depends on their economic capabilities as well as their cultural patterns. Not only the material wealth but their life style, their education level and even their consumption patterns are the leading factors in their decision of movement. Interest­ingly, some of the Kurds having good income do not prefer to settle down in another neigh­borhood. Their possession of shops and the apartments in Elmadağ, whereas most of the inhabitants are just tenants in this neighbor­hood, can be a proof of their intentions of staying here. A Kurdish interviewee whose economic position is better than many other inhabitants in Elmadağ proposed that

  • 130 “Biz her şeyden önce sade yaşamak, orta halli yaşamak istiyoruz. Biz kendimizi zorlasak Etiler’de d (...)

First of all we want to pursue a modest and simple life. If we push ourselves, we can even dwell in Etiler. Howe­ver, Elmadağ is more convenient for our life style. We can lose a lot in Etiler. This will not be healthy for us. Therefore, we are glad to live here”130.

55Along with the Kurds, some of the Muslims who emigrated from Anatolia during the 1950s consider themselves as having the economic means to settle in a ‘better neighborhood’. Yet, they mentioned that they are glad to live in Elmadağ with the people like them. They think that they would not be as comfortable in anoth­er neighborhood as they are in Elmadağ. Most of the interviewees from this group are local small-scale entrepreneurs who are involved in business in Elmadağ such as real estate agents or contractors. They believe that they are respected people in Elmadağ, which cannot be acquired in another neighborhood easily. What is strik­ing for this group is their mostly well-educated children’s desire to dwell in another neighbor­hood. Like bobos, university students and wage earner singles, the children of Anatolian immi­grants regard their stay in Elmadağ as tempo­rary. Correspondingly, the Iraqi people who do not have any intention of staying in Turkey in the long run consider their settlement in Elmadağ as temporary. The longest duration of their stay in Elmadağ until now is about five years.

56People, who have the chance of moving to another neighborhood, would not pass over this chance when they have the economic means. The transformation of Elmadağ from a middle class to a lower-middle class neighborhood and its rising cultural heterogeneity due to the indefi­nite immigration flows are some reasons behind the aspiration to move out of the neighborhood. The headman of the İnönü neighborhood informed us that while 7,500 people were dwell­ing in Elmadağ 15 years ago, today its popula­tion is around 4,000-5,000 which illustrates a radical decrease in the nighttime population. The spread of workplaces after 1980s in the neighborhood is a significant aspect causing the decline of population. The increasing density of business offices in the streets of Elmadağ has certainly weakened the ties among the inhabit­ants and led to the disappearance of ‘old neigh­borhood atmosphere’ where close neighborly relations took place. On the other hand, as we mentioned in the previous pages, many people consider Elmadağ as a transit area and their stay here as temporary. All these factors -the general discontentment about Elmadağ, the existence of workplaces and the presence of transit inhabitants- have impeded the develop­ment of the “feeling of belongingness” to this neighborhood. Even some of the old inhabitants seem to break off their ties with Elmadağ espe­cially after their close friends or relatives left the neighborhood.

57Nevertheless, inhabitants’ widespread discon­tentment about Elmadağ and thus their aspiration to move to a “better neighborhood” should not bring us to the idea that Elmadağ would be thoroughly left by its inhabitants and turned into an entire business location. Elmadağ seems to be a permanent home for some of the people: for example, low-income non-Muslim families having no economic means, some of the Mus­lim immigrants of the 1950s making use of their relations in Elmadağ to earn their livelihood and some Kurdish immigrants believing to pro­tect their cultural identities in Elmadağ better than elsewhere would be the willing and unwilling inhabitants of Elmadağ. For the transit inhabitants, we can suggest that their temporary stay does not mean that this neigh­borhood would not be inhabited by the mem­bers of this group after they move to another neighborhood, rather it signifies their ‘constant circulation’ in Elmadağ. In other words, even if they leave the neighborhood, new people from their groups would settle in Elmadağ. For exam­ple, although the university students and wage earner singles leave Elmadağ for living in a “better neighborhood”, new university students and wage earner singles would move into Elmadağ who find this neighborhood an attract­ive place in regard to its location and relatively low rents. Though the feeling of belongingness to Elmadağ is very weak among the inhabitants today, different groups of people would contin­ue to dwell here concerning their interests. Thus, Elmadağ will continue to be “a neighborhood in fluxˮ in the future as well.

Notes

98 We use bobo as an abbreviation for “bohemian bourgeoisieˮ as mainly used by scholars in the field of urban studies.

99 As the city expanded demographically and spatially, there occurred a need for municipal rearrangements in terms of creating new districts and municipalities. Indeed, Şişli which had been a subdistrict of Beyoğlu was turned into a district in 1954.

100 These apartments were constructed in the place of the Armenian and Latin cemeteries, which had been moved to other locations in Istanbul (interview with Aron Angel who was the assistant of Prost in the 1940s and then the head of the Planning Office (Nazım Bürosu) until 1952.

101 While H. Prost was studying on the public plan of Istanbul in 1930s, he designed Gümüşsuyu-Taksim-Harbiye-Nişantaşı-Maçka-Dolmabahçe area -called Kadırgalar Valley- as a cultural park on which Open Air Theatre, Sports and Exhibition Center were planned to be constructed. Therefore, this land named “No:2 Park” was expropriated by the government. At that time, Küçükçiftlik and Belvü gazinos were on this area.

102 The name of Istanbul Sports and Exhibition Center was changed into Lütfi Kırdar Sports and Exhibiton Center [Lütfi Kırdar Sport ve Sergi Sarayı] in 1988.

103 Hilton was designed by the well-known American architects Skidmore, Owings and Merill and Sedat Hakkı Eldem was the local collaborating architect and adviser. The construction of the hotel was sponsored by Turkish Republic Pension Fund [Emekli Sandığı] and Marshall Plan Fund.

104 At the gala opening of the hotel, Conrad Hilton names the ideological significance of the hotel’s location as such: “The Istanbul Hilton stands thirty miles from the Iron curtain... Here, with the Iron Curtain veritably before our eyes, we found a people who had fought the Russians for the past three hundred years and were entirely unafraid of them... Standing before the assembled guests at the opening ceremonies, I felt this “City of Golden Hornˮ was a tremendous place to plant a little bit of America.. “Each of our hotels,ˮ I said, “is a ‘little America,’ not as a symbol of bristling power, but as a friendly center where men of many nations and of good will may speak the language of peaceˮ (Wharton, 1999, 296).

105 There are approximately 150 tourism agencies operating on the Elmadağ-Harbiye axis (http://www.nevarneyok.com.tr/danisma/turizm/sey1.asp)

106 The renovation of Cumhuriyet Street was initiated by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality in 2001. The con­struction of boulevards with large walkways aiming to change the profile of the city paved the way for opening many cafes, restaurants and pastry shops on the street (such as Hai Sushi, Pronto Café and recently Mado).

107 There is only one business firm functioning in a three-floor building on this street that was constructed last year (2001) in the place of an old house.

108 “Ben burada oturmam, barlar, pavyonlar var. Aile için, çocuk yetiştirmek için iyi değilˮ.

109 As we mentioned in the previous chapter, drivers and transporters are very common in Elmadağ concerning the fact that the people who had come to this neighborhood with the first internal immigration flow of the 1950s, had no choice but work as drivers since this job does not necessitate any social capital. We learned from an Armenian automobile repairer that all the old automobile repairers in Elmadağ were generally non-Muslims. Indeed, during our study we realized that non-Muslims are mostly craftsmen such as carpenters, shoemakers and repairers. Our interviewee added that non-Muslims later on trained Muslim immigrants as their apprentices.

110 We think that there was a spatial division of labor in the automobile sector in Istanbul. While Elmadağ was the place for automobile repairing, Talimhane was accommodating most of the automobile spare part selling stores. On the other hand, unlike Talimhane, in Sirkeci spare parts were being sold only for big vehicles.

111 Interestingly, when interviewees were asked to define the boundaries of Elmadağ, most of them distinguished the Çimen Street as the lower limit of this neighborhood.

112 As we mentioned in the methodology chapter we were unable to conduct interviews with the Gypsies living in the lower side of Elmadağ. All our explanations about Gypsies are based on our observations as well as on other inhabitants’ perception of them.

113 “Üst kısımlarda işyerleri yayılabilir ancak alt kısımların Dolapdere’ye doğru değişeceğini çok sanmıyorumˮ.

114 PIYA project was designed during the mayorship of Bedrettin Dalan in the mid-1980s with an intention of trans­forming Piyalepaşa and Dolapdere boulevards into high-rise building areas. However, the project was not initi­ated yet, although construction permits in the neighborhood had been halted for several years.

115 “Elmadağ şu anda popüler durumda değil. Olması da mümkün değil. Arsaların çoğu 40-60 metrekare. Ancak beşini müteahhit alacak ki birşey yapabilsinˮ.

116 “Komşuluk, çatkapı gelen istemiyorumˮ.

117 “Çalıştığımız için mahallenin içine giremiyoruz. Biz seyirci kısmındayızˮ.

118 “Ya hep evdeyim, ya da buranın tamamen dışındaˮ.

119 “Kiralar burada makul. İnsanlar birbirine fazla karışmıyor. Herkesin kendi hayatının içinde abukluk var, o yüzden kimse kimseye karışmıyorˮ.

120 “Eşya sorunu ve ev teferruatıyla uğraşmamak için pansiyonu tercih ettimˮ.

121 “Evlenirsem karım istemez burayı, evler harap, semt eski bir yer olduğu için [...] Çocuğum olursa, burada otur­mayı istemem. En azından çocukların oynayacağı yer yokˮ.

122 “Şimdi saygısızlık çok [...] Medeni insanlar yok olmuş, yobazlar gelmişˮ.

123 “O zamanlar çok nezihti. Gayrimüslimler vardı. Senin dilini konuşan insanlar vardı. Daha sıcak, samimi bir atmosfer vardı. Belli gelir düzeyi vardı. Eskiden varlıklılar vardıˮ.

124 “Tam köye çevirmişler burayıˮ.

125 “‘Ermeniler vardı. Komşuluğu çok iyiydi. Zevkli, sefalı, kibar komşuluk vardı. Sonra bu Kürtler gelince hırsızlık korkusuyla kimse sokağa çıkamaz oldu ... Anadolu akın edince buraya, onlar da [Ermeniler] abbas yolcu kaçtılarˮ.

126 ‘Şimdi her türlü milletten geldiler İstanbul’aˮ.

127 It is interesting to see that everybody gave different dates about the comingˮ of the Gypsies to the neighborhood. While one of the old inhabitants talked about the presence of Gypsies in the lower side of Elmadağ in the 1940s, another one suggested that Gypsies in Talimhane moved to Elmadağ between the years of 1950 and 1960 after their barracks were destroyed. As we mentioned before, although the Gypsies are among the oldest inhabitants of this neighborhood, they are always conceived as the outsiders.

128 “Bunlar medenileşip, Elmadağ’in aşağı sokaklarına Bay Ahmet Bayan Ayşe olarak yerleştilerˮ.

129 “Eskiden komşuluk ilişkisi vardı. Onlar gitti, evleri de yıkıldı. yanımız işyeri oldu. [...] Fırsatım olsa ben de giderimˮ.

130 “Biz her şeyden önce sade yaşamak, orta halli yaşamak istiyoruz. Biz kendimizi zorlasak Etiler’de de oturabili­riz ama Elmadağ bizim yaşantımıza uygun. Etiler’de birçok şeyi kaybedebiliriz. Bizim için sağlıklı olmaz. O yüz­den memnunuz burdanˮ.

Table des illustrations

Titre Photo 20 Tourism agencies on the Cumhuriyet Street.
Crédits Tomurcuk Bilge Erzik, August 2003
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifeagd/docannexe/image/698/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 28k
Titre Photo 21 The land of the old Şan Theatre, which is today used as an open-air car park.
Crédits Tomurcuk Bilge Erzik, August 2003
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifeagd/docannexe/image/698/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 36k
Titre Photo 22 Parking lots in the basement of apartment buildings in the inner streets of Elmadağ.
Crédits Tomurcuk Bilge Erzik, August 2003
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifeagd/docannexe/image/698/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 20k
Titre Photo 23 Parking lots in the basement of apartment buildings in the inner streets of Elmadağ.
Crédits Tomurcuk Bilge Erzik, August 2003
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifeagd/docannexe/image/698/img-4.jpg
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Titre Map II: Istanbul Şehir Rehberi, Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi Yayınları,1989. (scale 1/10000)
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifeagd/docannexe/image/698/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 100k
Titre Photo 24 Automobile repairers on the Elmadağ Street.
Crédits Tomurcuk Bilge Erzik, August 2003
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifeagd/docannexe/image/698/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 28k
Titre Photo 25 Dolapdere Street located on the eastern border of Elmadağ.
Crédits Tomurcuk Bilge Erzik, August 2003
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifeagd/docannexe/image/698/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 28k
Titre Photo 26 and 27 Arif Paşa Manor
Crédits Tomurcuk Bilge Erzik, August 2003
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifeagd/docannexe/image/698/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 68k
Titre Photo 27 Arif Paşa Manor
Crédits Tomurcuk Bilge Erzik, August 2003
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifeagd/docannexe/image/698/img-9.jpg
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