Urban Space and Architectural Style in Izmir of the Young Turk Period

This paper explores the spatial (urban and architectural) dimension of the Young Turk era in Izmir. Izmir was considered one of the most important port cities of the late Ottoman Empire, combining a significant presence of private capital, the
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  Preprint/Under Review Bulletin of the Centre for Asia Minor Studies Amygdalou K. This document is a preprint – the paper is under review by the Bulletin of the Centre for Asia Minor Studies. Urban Space and Architectural Style in Izmir of the Young Turk Period Kalliopi Amygdalou In a letter located at the Greek State Archives, dated 28 September 1920 and addressed to no less than the Greek Prime Minister himself, the Iossifoglou family, owners of a large plot very close to the Customs House of the port of Smyrna are asking for ‘justice’ from him and the Greek –at the time – Administration of Smyrna: 1   Regarding the design of the boulevard in question, thirty years ago the Governor of Izmir at the time Midhat Pa !  a had carried out a plan, which had been approved by the Ministry of Interior, [and] which however was never executed. However Rahmi Pa !  a, in this well-known arbitrariness and pressure on the Christian population, founded the [Boulevards] company whose Statute wasn’t approved by an Imperial Edict for other reasons but mainly because it didn’t have the approval of the Izmir Municipality. With this illegal company he started demolishing various buildings [and] opening the boulevard from Basmane Station upwards [towards the Customs House], managed to open one third of it and could not complete it because of the armistice. 2    Leaving aside for a while the tension that pervades the document – after all we are in 1920, well inside the hostilities of the war – there are three interesting points here: First, Izmir’s former governor Rahmi Bey (who was a prominent member of the Young Turk movement) 3  had strongly pushed for the opening of a controversial boulevard that would connect Basmane train station to the Customs House at the port, demolishing expropriated buildings on the way (Figure 1, see also Figure 4 for the location of the boulevard on the city map). Second, this modernization project was not new – it dated since the Midhat Pa ! a era, 4  before the turn of the century, but had been impossible to realize – and it seems that at the time of the letter as well, because of the armistice, it lay half-completed, its fate to be decided by the Greek government. Last, Iossifoglou owned a very advantageous plot, not only because its location on the new waterfront (quay) but also because of its proximity to the Customs 1  Haralambos Iossifoglou, a prominent banker and businessman, would later build an orphanage in the refugee neighbourhood of Nea Smyrni in Athens. 2  Greek State Archives, Athens, Fonds:  ! " "#$   %& # '(#)*"   + #  ,&-$. . 3  Born in Thessaloniki in 1873, Rahmi Arslan (Evrenoszade Rahmi Bey), was governor ( Vali  ) of the Aydın Prefecture, in which Izmir was included at the time, from September 1913 to October 1918, succeeding Nazım Bey. Between 1908-1912 he was a parliamentarian for Thessaloniki province. 4  Midhat Pa ! a, an Ottoman reformist, served as Izmir’s governor between 1880-1881. He had also served as prime minster.  Preprint/Under Review Bulletin of the Centre for Asia Minor Studies Amygdalou K. House. Based on the planned route of the boulevard, shown on the map attached to the application, only part of the Iossifoglou property should have been affected. However, according to the complainant, Rahmi Bey appropriated and demolished the whole of the Haralambo Iossifoglou han , 5  which housed shops with grains (ran by the Aliotti Brothers), dry fruit (V. Kokinidis) and a café named Bubeaux among other businesses. 6   Figure 1 –Map attached to the letter to the Greek Prime Minister by Haralambos Iossifoglou. Note that the sea is on the upper side. On the upper part the Customs House and the sea are shown, as well as the lots affected by the opening of the boulevard, which is marked in dashed line. Iosifoglou’s property is marked in grey. On the lower right corner, the boulevard reaches Basmane Station. Source: Greek State Archives, Athens, Fonds Ypati Armosteia Smyrnis. These three points already help us raise a couple of questions – how did the Young Turks intervene in the built environment of Izmir, and how committed should we be to the temporal limits 1908 and 1918 in order to examine these interventions? In other words, when it comes to controlling the urban space and projecting national identity, what kind of continuities and ruptures with the previous and succeeding periods can we sense, and how important are divisions between communities? 5   Han  is a type of inn with a distinct typology (a courtyard surrounded by inward looking rooms on two levels), which started out as an accommodation unit along long-distance routes. In the Ottoman Empire it evolved into an urban commercial (infra)structure, moving into the centre of Ottoman cities. In the insurance maps of Izmir multiple buildings that contained offices, commercial and entertainment functions are labelled as 'hans', such as Iossifoglou’s property. 6  This information is derived from the 1905 Goad insurance map, Sheet No.6. Charles Goad and his successors prepared insurance maps for many cities around the world, most notably in Canada, the UK, Chile, Denmark, France, and Turkey among others. Their firm was based in London.  Preprint/Under Review Bulletin of the Centre for Asia Minor Studies Amygdalou K. Izmir before the Young Turk period In order to start answering these questions, we need to briefly go back to the late 19 th  century, around the time when Izmir went through vast transformations. [Figure 2 – Meyer map] In Meyer’s turn-of-the-century map (Figure 2) we see that the railroads, quay and port appear already completed. The Izmir - Aydın line (owned by the Ottoman Railway Company  ) had been approved in 1856 and became fully operational in 1867, while the Izmir – Kasaba line concession was granted in 1863, again to the British (the  Smyrna Cassaba Railway  ), and became operational in 1866. Since then both lines continued expanding, but in 1893 the Izmir - Kasaba line ended up in French hands ( Société Ottomane du Chemin de Fer de Smyrne-Cassaba et Prolongements  ). 7  The port and quay, constructed between 1869 and 7  GEYIKDAGI, N. 2011. Foreign Investment in the Ottoman Empire: International Trade and Relations 1854-1914, London, IB Tauris. pp.85-88.  Preprint/Under Review Bulletin of the Centre for Asia Minor Studies Amygdalou K. 1875 also belonged to French interests – this time the Dussaud Brothers. These projects were the most important infrastructural additions to the city; they vastly increased its commercial capacity, trade activity and wealth, 8  and accelerated its urbanisation (both by internal and external immigrants). While often Izmir’s development has been portrayed as the result of the absolute dominance of private investment, more recent research has shown that the Ottoman state was a conscious and willing player. These projects, which demanded significant capital, were the combined result of private initiative and government incentive. As Zandi-Sayek has shown, the Ottoman government ‘laid out the parameters of the works and provided legal and tax prerogatives to facilitate the project’, but the ‘organization, financing and technical expertise […] were left to private entrepreneurs’. 9  In the case of the quay, a whole new series of plots was created for development, on which hotels, consulates and businesses – such as Iossifoglou’s han  – were built. While the company funded the construction and made profit from the sale of the newly formed plots, the state also benefited greatly: no more did international trade take place on the hundreds of small individual quays along the waterfront, but rather through the better regulated modern port. Larger ships and a single point of control – the Customs House – meant higher tax revenues for the state treasuries. In other areas, state and private initiative were more clearly separated. While Punta was developed in a planned manner for the upper classes following private initiative, 10  state planning appeared in less privileged areas: the Armenian neighbourhood was reconstructed in a grid layout after the 1845 fire, and a planned settlement appeared in De $ ırmenda $ ı in the 1830s. 11  Infrastructures such as tramway lines, ferry services for commuting across the gulf, gas lighting and water networks, all installed in the second half and mostly towards the end of the 19 th  century, were considered profit bearing and hence led by private-public partnerships. In contrast, issues of safety, security, health and poverty were the exclusive area of the state: the barracks (1826-1829) 12  were the first large-scale public building, followed by 8  Izmir’s economy had started changing already in the 17 th  century and more rapidly in the 18 th  century, when its export trade changed from transit goods to agricultural products of Western Anatolia. By the end of the 19 th  century its population was at least twice what it had been a century before. KECHRIOTIS, V. 2012. The Enthusiasm Turns into Fear: Everyday Life Relations between Christians and Muslims in Izmir in the Aftermath of the Young Turk Revolution. In:  GEORGEON, F. (ed.) “L’ivresse de la liberté”. La révolution de 1908 dans l’Empire ottoman.  Paris-Louvain-Walpole: Peeters. p.297. 9  ZANDI-SAYEK, S. 2012. Ottoman Izmir: the rise of a cosmopolitan port, 1840-1880  , U of Minnesota Press. pp.115-149. 10  The area of Punta appears divided in lots in the first decades of the 19 th  century, but few houses are visible in Thomas Graves’ 1837 map. Construction took off towards the end of the century. 11  According to Cana Bilsel, this could be a refugee settlement formed after the Greek independence war. BILSEL, C. 1996. Cultures et Foncionnalités: L’évolution de la morphologie urbaine de la ville d’Izmir aux XIXe et début XXe siècles.  Ph.D., Université de Paris X - Nanterre. pp. 271-279. 12  The barracks, known also as Sarıkı ! la, were demolished in the 1950s. For more see ALPASLAN, H. % . 2019. % zmir Sarıkı ! la’nın in ! a evreleri Kültür Envanteri,  19.  Preprint/Under Review Bulletin of the Centre for Asia Minor Studies Amygdalou K. the Muslims’ Hospital (Gureba-I Muslimin Hastanesi, 1849-1851), the new Governor’s Residency (1868-72), the prison (3 rd  quarter of the century), and Izmir’s  % dâdî  school (1886-7). The new institution of Municipalities, brought to Izmir from 1868 onwards, 13  reflected a new understanding of subjecthood / citizenship in the Empire and demonstrated the intention of the Ottoman state to better regulate the cities and to involve itself in the management of everyday life. However the imbalance between different areas of the city remained acute; By the late 19 th  century the city was divided in two, in two ways: one division being between the traditional bazaar (Kemeraltı) in the south and the Frank quarter to the north, 14  and the other between the modern waterfront and the backstage of the city. Especially the second contrast owed to a couple of reasons: first, technological advancements remained largely exclusive to the waterfront, trade routes and the upper classes because of their above-mentioned reliance on private investment. Second, the shape of the streets in the interior resulted from the gradual and unplanned expansion of the city and from the flexibility of Islamic law with regards to private and public space, a flexibility that usually worked in favour of private space. 15  And while the dense Armenian, Greek and Turkish neighbourhoods provided lots of cheap labour for the thriving businesses of the city, their positioning between railways and port started becoming a burden. Izmir owed its wealth to its serving as a meeting point of the vast commercial networks of the East with the waterways of the Mediterranean. But increasingly, these two struggled to meet: while tons of goods arrived in Basmane, and the port was ready to load them onto ships, the crooked streets of the city core through which only camels could pass made this connection a nightmare. Contentious Infrastructures: The genealogy of a boulevard This is how the necessity to open a boulevard from Basmane to the port was brought forward by Midhat Pa ! a in the 1880s. According to Bilsel, Midhat Pa ! a attempted its undertaking through a company of Ottoman interests ( Compagnie Ottomane de Tramway  ) in order to counterbalance the dominance of foreign investment in the city. His company would find local funds without resorting to the state or the municipality or to foreign capital. As seen in Figure 4, he proposed the opening of a boulevard connecting the Kasaba (Basmane) train station to the barracks and the port (no.2) – this, in his view, could spread with other smaller 13  Initially a single municipality was formed in 1868. Later the city was divided into two municipalities in 1879 and reunited in 1891. 14  While the bazaar area was developed as a circular cluster with dense and narrow streets around a former inner harbour, the Frank quarter had a linear form, having emerged from a series of quasi-residential quasi-commercial buildings along the shore, the frenkhane s, from which foreign merchants carried out international trade. For a detailed analysis see Zandi Sayek, ibid, pp.14-17 15  Mutliple effforts to regulate the streets emerged in the mid 19 th  century, such as the 1848 Building and Road Code (Ebniye ve Turuk Nizamnamesi), the 1858 Land Code etc. For more see Zandi Sayek, ibid. pp.101-102.
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