Istanbul (1936-1951) / Transportation Reform of Istanbul and its role in the Modernization the City
Transportation Reform of Istanbul and its role in the Modernization the City
As mentioned in previous narratives, one of the most important aspects of Henri Prost’s master plan of Istanbul was the emphasis of transportation and circulation system. He believed that the modernization of the city has to be accomplished through a complete social change.
New Transportation Network
After a detailed analysis of transportation in Istanbul, the ‘circulation artery’ proposed by Prost started at Taksim Square on the north cutting through the
old quarters on the west of Pera. After crossing the Goldern Horn by Ataturk Bridge, it passed through the Byzantine aqueduct of Valence and the old city and ends at the proposed central station at Yenikapi. This artery divides the historic city into two parts, the central business district and the University of Istanbul on the east and the settlement area on the west. The other side of the circulation artery also starts from the Taksim Square cutting cross Pera and Galata to reach Karakoy and passes the Golden Horn by Galata Bridge. In addition, Prost preserves most of the existing fabric in old city while adding in several new avenues and streets to facilitate a more efficient circulation network in the historic core.
The Significance of the Transportation Infrastructure
The transportation reform proposed by Henri Prost plays a significant role in transforming Istanbul and the lifestyle of citizen. First of all, it greatly enhances the fluidity of the city with the aid of the new motor and rail system. It breaks the geographical constraint of living and working in the same zone in the Ottoman time and increases the mobility of the city. In order to fulfil the goal of creating a ‘modern and secular city’ proposed by Ataturk’s republican government, the transportation structure has a much larger meaning and implication in terms of socio-political context. The intervention and the new fabric injected on top gradually take away the old impression and image of the ancient during the imperial time. At the same time, the mode of travelling also changes the perception of the city with the change of speed and spectacle on a moving vehicle. These ‘social changes’ are evidence of the modernization of Istanbul. Although the old fabric of Constantinople is still preserved, the streetscape gradually fades out and left as the memory of the city that marks the beginning of the new era of Ataturk’s republican period.
Cana BILSEL (2010), “Les Transformations d’Istanbul”: Henri Prost’s planning of Istanbul (1936-1951), Ankara: Middle East Technical University Development of Architecture (ITU vol. 8, No. 1)
Cana BILSEL (2008), Shaping a Modern City out of an Ancient Capital: Henri Prost’s plan for the historical peninsula of Istanbul