URBAN HİSTORY OF IZMIR
The ancient city of Smyrna, which is rumoured to have been established in 1102 BC by Tantalos at the innermost part of the Izmir Bay presently called Bayrakl› and abandoned after the 6-7th centuries AD because of fires, earthquakes and destruction by the Lydians, is the oldest center of the current city of Izmir. Located at the northeastern corner of the Izmir Bay, the city had a considerably wide harbour of its time. Tepekule, where the Bayrakl› excavations are under way, was in the form of a peninsula during the period.
Upon the dream of Alexander the Great, who visited the city in 333 BC, Izmir was rebuild on the slopes of Mount Pagus (Kadifekale Mount) for the second time. The Kadifekale Citadel was constructed during this re-building of the city. In the Hellenistic period, the boundaries of the city extended from the present Bahribaba Park on one side and the Meles River on the other.
Under the sovereignity of the Roman Empire after 133 BC, the city benefited from the Acropolis at Kadifekale and the Theater that existed during the Hellenistic period. One of those still remaining rare works of buildings is the Water Arches bridging the two sides across the Kemer River at Kızılçullu.
In the 11th century, Izmir was the central city of the first Turkish Principality founded at West Anatolian coasts under leadership of Çaka Bey. Conquered by the Byzantines once again, Izmir began turning into a Venetian and Genovese colony. Upon the treaties signed in 1261 and 1304, the Genovese earned the right to reside and trade in Izmir whereas the Venetians gained the priority to make up a district in line with the treaty of 1265. As a result of the First Crusades, the Latins occupying the harbour district and the Turks taking shelter in Kadifekale Citadel, divided the city into two parts as Upper Izmir and Lower Izmir by a treaty, and the city maintained its dual structure for a long time.
Unlike other cities, from the day it was founded until the 14th century, the city of Izmir continuously relocated its urban center from Smyrna to Kadifekale and the Inner Port. On the other hand, the city kept this double-centered urban characteristic of its own until the residents abandoned Kadifekale Citadel and the neighbourhood settled at the inner city during the second half of the 17th century.
In 1426, Izmir was included in the Ottoman domains. Located mainly at the northwestern skirts of Kadifekale Mount because of the Latins, the district of the Turks gradually spread towards the Inner Port and, despite the city walls that circumscribed the lower city, began to mingle and became integrated with the settlement surrounding the port.
In 1528, Izmir appeared to be a small town with its population around 940 people living in 175 households. Except for the Rum district between Basmahane and Alsancak where 18 percent of the population resided at, the districts called Selatinzade, Han Bey and Liman between Kadifekale Citadel and the harbour were occupied Muslim population. As from this period the city began to be divided into districts of ethnical and religious congregations as opposed to the tendency of morphological integration.
The acquisition of Chios Island in 1566 and of Cyprus Island in 1571 by the Ottomans was directly influential on transformation of Izmir harbour into a foreign trade harbour, aiding the city became integrated with the world economy and causing its population to rise. As a result, three districts called Ali Çavufl, Yaz›c› and fieyhler were newly established in the city. The Hisar Mosque, being remained as the oldest mosque of Kemeralt› district up to today since late 16th century, was built between 1597-1598 at the coast of Inner Port, where the traces can be found along today’s Kemeralt› Street.
In order to control the flow of trade in Izmir after the second half the 17th century during which the city became a great harbour city, a customs building and a bedesten were built. The trade center of the city concentrated around the Inner Port. At the entrance of the Inner Port, there existed a Port Castle built for defense. Parallel to the rise of commercial activity, the number of khans in the city reached 82 in 1670. The fiad›rvan Mosque (1636-1637), Kestanepazar› Mosque (1667-1668) and Kemeralt› Mosque (1673) which were built around the Inner Port, all exist today. On the other hand, in relation with the rise of non-Muslim population throughout the city, Armenian and Jewish districts were established in addition to the existing Rum district. In the second half of the 17th century, the dual morphological structure of the city was over since a small district within Kadifekale Citadel scattered and was abandoned, causing its residents to settle in the city centrum.
In the late 18th century, the population of Izmir reached 100.000, attracting Levantine trade to the city. At the same time, the period following the filling of the Inner Port that hindered ships from docking, the merchants who had settled at the new trade district moved the port-related activities to outer areas from of the Inner Port. Parallel to gradual filling of the Inner Port, large scale khans made up of stone began to be built for purposes of processing and storing goods. Towards to the end of the 18th century due to the fact that merchants coming from Chios Island have failed to find any place to reside in Kemeralt› district, and began to settle in northern parts of Hisar Mosque, the new trade district of Izmir moved gradually towards an area different from Kemeralt› district. The commercial hinterland of the city was affected by such an intensity. Settlements such as Buca, Bornova, Seydiköy (Gaziemir) and Karfl›yaka gradually began to flourish, fulfilling the demand of the wealthy class people for summer housing and providing shelter for potential epidemics. Such villages as Bornova, Buca and Seydiköy turned out to suburbs as a result of summer housing. After this period, having a characteristic of decentralized settlement, Izmir attained its metropolitan structure as a result of suburban settlements surrounding the city.
The process when the capital accumulated from industrial production in Europe at the beginning of the 19th century was oriented towards Izmir as direct export of capital and when Izmir was integrated with the world economy, commences with the 1838 Convention of Commerce and Navigation between Britain and the Ottoman Empire, granting the foreign merchants the right to trade directly within Ottoman territories in the first half of the 19th century. Import of capital to Izmir was then initiated by branches of banks such as Izmir Trade Bank founded by English in 1843, Credit Lynoise in 1860s and then the Ottoman Bank in 1863.
The channels of communication and transportation required for becoming integrated with the world economy began to be realized as well. The French Post opened in 1837 was followed by the Ottoman Post in 1843. Telegraph communication between Europe and Izmir dated to 1859 and was established locally in 1865. In the mid-19th century, Izmir was a wealthy and cosmopolitan city of trade where consulates of 17 different countries took place.
During the 19th century, four different changes in the transportation system of Izmir occurred: The long distance caravan trade was replaced by regional caravan transport and the infrastructure for railway, road and sea transportation began to be constructed. Taking the privilege to construct railways, the Izmir-Ayd›n Railway Company started the railroad constructions off in 1857. The railway line reached Torbal› in 1860 and Ayd›n in 1866. In line with the Izmir-Kasaba (Turgutlu) railway privilege granted to another English group in 1863, the railway extensions to Manisa in 1865 and Kasaba in 1866 were opened. The Punta (Alsancak) railway station, which, throughout the 19th century, undertook the role of a city entrance gate after its foundation laid in 1859 and the Basmane railway station opened in 1876, both played a dominant role in formation of the modern city image and morphology of Izmir. The other actors of this transforming power were embodied in the developments of road and sea transportation. Following the permission given for road constructions in 1866, the passenger and post transport became widespread. Nevertheless, the actual load in matters of transport was encountered by sea transportation. Transformation of this mode of transport into a permanent system was implied by the filling of the sea as result of the privilege of port and quay construction granted firstly to the English in 1867, but handed over to the French M & M. Dussaud Brothers in 1869, and afterwards by the construction of Kordon road and the quay. Construction of the quay inaugurated rapid transformation of the coastal areas. The Levantines, merchants and as their mediators, the Jewish, Rum and Armenian citizens of the Ottoman began to vacate their workplaces in Kemeralt› and moved to coastal areas.
The congregation-based spatial organization of the districts was replaced by these new prestigious neighborhoods determined by the newly emerging bourgeoisie. In accordance with the demands of the new bourgeoisie concentrated at coastal areas, modern public spaces like clubs, theaters and movies all of which shaped the social and cultural life in the city started to be built. Having been completed in 1876, the Kordon road was transformed into the most important prestigious and conspicuous public space created in the city with contributions particularly of the non-Muslim communities.
The Karantina, Göztepe and Kokaryalı districts regarded to be out of town as located beyond Karatafl turned out to become prestiguous neighbourhoods each of which have not developed disjointedly from the city owing to the accelerated developments entailed by agglomeration of urban population, the widened opening of Karatafl-Göztepe road in 1881 and finally the construction of the tramway line in 1883. The district of Halil R›fat Pafla was named after the opening of the road with the same name in 1891. At the eastern side of this district emerged the Karatafl district where the Jewish leaving traditional neighborhoods of the city began to reside at. In 1907, the topographical barrier of 32 meters cliff between the lower street at Karatafl and the upper Halil R›fat Pafla street was provided access by a steam power lift, Asansör (Asanseur) built with the attempts of the entrepreneur Nesim Levi. With the help of Inner Bay Boat Administration starting with the year 1883, the place called Bornova quay located at the coastal area of Mersinli and Karfl›yaka became accessible via sea transportation.
Izmir thus appeared to attain a holistic spatial structure integrated via road and railway transportation as much as that of the sea.
Assigned as the governor of Izmir in 1913, Rahmi Aslan stove, throughout his duty lasting till the end of the First World War, to modernize the city with the intention to let it acquire a contemporary appearance. The cemetry located at the place upon which the Bahribaba Park was to be built was moved out of town; the foundations of Orphanage (Provincial Directorate of Health), National Library, National Movie and Girls’ High School (‹ttihat ve Terakki School) were laid. In 1918, construction of the fiirket Boulevard between Basmane and Gümrük was realized during his period of duty again.
The 1922 Izmir fire ruined the physical, cultural and social topography of the city. Ignited at around the Basmane district in 13th of September, 1922, the fire devastated approximately 20-25.000 buildings that amount to three fourths of the city, but not including the Turkish districts. While the Armenians district was completely burned, a considerable part of Rum and Levantine districts were destroyed as well and it had only been Belle-Vue (Kordon Road) rescued from these burning areas. In addition to the Rums and Armenian citizens who left the city causing its population to decrease by half, the city also suffered from great losses in terms of capital and labourship.
The “national” acceleration entailed by foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923 and the potential where the devastated state of the post-fire Izmir could carry all sort of modernist projects, outfited the urban reconstruction movements throughout the city with the ideology to spatialize the identity of the Turkish Republic. René and Raymond Danger brothers completed and submitted the Izmir Development Plan in September 1924, which was designed in geometrical forms consisting of various symmetrical boulevards intersected by squares. In this plan, the great streets were regarded as one of the rudiments of modernity. In accordance with the development plan approved in 1925, due constructional works to open the Gazi Boulevard took start in parallel to the spatial alignment of Cumhuriyet Square. With the intention to create the modern image of the city, the efforts involved not just the invitation of foreign urban planners, but also the transfer of Paris boulevards and the Kültürpark (Culture Park) of Moscow being the models. Apart from the urban plan, by the aid of the buildings such as opera house and cinema, it was attempted to construct the “modern publicity”; monuments, museums and libraries in “public memory”; and thanks to the spaces of entertainment and night club culture such as Kültürpark, which educated and disciplined as much as entertained the urban inhabitants, the “experience of the modern urban inhabitant” was constructed.
Following the annexation of Karfl›yaka, Bayrakl› and Turan in 1930, and of Inciralti in 1937 within municipal boundaries, the city of Izmir extended over an area of 5763 hectares. In 1930s, subdivision of the burnt areas was completed, the cemetries relocated out of the city, wide green areas created and Kültürpark implemented. With the erection of Gazi Statue and orderly arrangement of the surrounding areas in 1932, the Cumhuriyet Square undertook the role of ceremony area in Konak Square. In this regard, the Konak Square appears to have partly transfered its role of being an administational center since the 19th century. In 1950s, the depreciation of National discourses on the agenda of architecture in Turkey paved the way for International Styles.
As completed in two phases between 1951-1952, the Varyant road wiped out a part of Bahribaba Park to connect Konak Square with De¤irmenda¤› district and from there on to Eflrefpafla district and the newly opened M›s›rl› (today Hatay) street as well as the newly emerging Bayramyeri district. The efforts to fill the urban void created in 1957 by thorough demolition of Sar› K›flla (Barracks) in Konak Square, the administrational center of the city, has lasted until the present day.
The most important urban problem emerging in 1960s has been the squattering brought by internal migration. Starting from the 1960s, Izmir rapidly growed and attained the quality of becoming a Metropolitan city. During this period, settlement preferences of the offices, banks, insurance and trade companies concentrated at around Gümrük, Basmane and environs of Cumhuriyet Square, altogether deemed as the Central Business District (CBD) of the city. As for the residential areas, the high income groups resided at Alsancak, Göztepe, Güzelyal› and Karfl›yaka districts, middle income groups at Hatay and the old quarters of Karfl›- yaka districts, and the low income groups at the city center. With impacts of the great demand for residential areas of the high income group, lack of any space for any horizontal sprawl and the Condominium Law enacted in 1965, urban density was created through vertical growth. In these areas, there took place transformation from four-storied rental apartment buildings to high-storied apartment buildings.
The most important factor affecting the 1970s and following periods was the 1973 Master Plan of Izmir, determining the development tendencies around the Bay as along the axes of north-south and east-west. Regarding the industrial areas of the city to be developed, the proposed axes were fiemikler-Alia¤a axis on the north and Karaba¤lar-Cumaovas› (Menderes) axis on the south. As for the western axis of the city covering Narl›dere-Urla-Seferihisar, it was mostly the secondary housing uses taking place there. In this period, the entire Greater City of Izmir reached 76.000 hectares in size. The public sector as the determining actor of the market caused the emergence of a typological language in architecture of public building projects by undertaking the role of an employer and building up the culture of architectural competition during the same period. The mentioned competition culture availed many architects to enter the architecture market. Despite this however, the controlled development of the Market, the dominant role of building sector within the national economy and incentives for the building contraction, whilst reduce the already limited job recruitment of architects and their competitive force in the market.
In 1980s, Izmir experienced urban sprawl in all directions. In the will to halt the proliferation of squatter areas, public lands were allocated to mass housing implementations. Under the emerging competitive circumstances of the market where the Public sector has adopted a dominant role in mass production of housing, large scale mass housing projects such as EVKA or Egekent were set about at the fringes of the city. On the other hand, the investors, entrepreneurs, contractors and building firms gradually gaining power in the building sector and the banking sector both got engaged in mass housing projects as well. However, all these implementations caused excessive reproductions and critics concerning the layout typologies in mass housing.
The expressionist demands of the new capital regime constituted with the policy of liberal economy become manifest mostly in the sector of housing during the 1990s. The public sector withdrawn from the competitive market, leaving its place to the private entrepreneurs. In this period, gated communities like Sahil Evleri Housing, fortified schools like Ifl›kkent High School and shopping malls like Bornova EGS, all of which encountered the new mode of the consumption culture, were successively erected. In line with the enriched culture of goods and the demands of the new customer profile, the pluralist and expressionist discourses of postmodernity were depreciated to be replaced by searches for more precise expressions of luxury and prestige. In 1997, the coastal line of Kordon road was filled to be annexed to Çeflme highway, but for the sixth time.
By the years of 2000s, the local administrations tried to meet the quality demands of the new modes of consumption and new capital accumulation. Searches for quality, precision and vision in urban investments manifested themselves in overpass bridges in Güzelyal› and Bayrakl›, renewal of Konak Pier, coastal alignments of Kordon and Bostanl›, transformation projects of Konak Square and the International Fair into Cultural Park in Kültürpark. The new areas preferred by capital accumulation for allocation to prestigious residential uses were concentrated mostly at the east-west axis of the city, namely at ‹nciralt›, Narl›dere, Urla, Seferihisar or Bornova.