Istanbul (1956-1961)/Nodes, Boulevards, Highways: Menderes’s Transportation Network And Its Origin

Devoting a considerable portion of the Redevelopment Act to traffic optimization, Menderes demanded an exhaustive reconstruction of the transportation system of Istanbul. Similar to his predecessor Prost, he prioritized traffic as the major problem that Istanbul was to tackle during the following years of growth.

Major boulevards constructed during 1956-1960. Original major streets (Millet Street and Vatan Street) were widened and extended to the city wall, becoming traffic arteries that carry vehicle flow. They are further connected to an important junction Aksaray. Source: Murat Gul, The Emergence of Modern Istanbul: Transformation and Modernisation of a City.


Millet Street and Vatan Street after renovation in 1950s. Source: Altinyildiz, Nur. “The Architectural Heritage of Istanbul and the Ideology of Preservation.”

A transportation network system on the European half of Istanbul was proposed by Menderes, who constructed it with nodal points, boulevards, and highway arteries. By enlarging and renovating existing public squares, Menderes added another function to the original historical and civic places as traffic junctions where vehicle flows converge. Boulevards linking these junctions were to be constructed based on the original streets along such linkages. Major boulevards, including Ordu Street, Millet Street and Vatan Street, were extended outwards from the center of Istanbul Peninsular, reaching the city wall. Highways connecting the suburb and bypassing city center were also mentioned in the objectives of Redevelopment Act as a method of easing downtown traffic congestion problem. A littoral road encircling the Istanbul Peninsular were also included in the network system.

Development of highway system during Menderes Operation Period. Highways were used by Menderes to connect Istanbul with periphery areas. They were constructed for bypassing traffic of the suburb in order to ease the congestion in the downtown area. Source: Ormecioglu, Hilal Tugba, and Ebru Kamaci. “ISTANBUL 1956 AND MENDERES OPERATIONS.”


The old road and the new highway, Londra Asfalti, connecting Istanbul to the West. Source: Altinyildiz, Nur. “The Architectural Heritage of Istanbul and the Ideology of Preservation.”

Menderes’s conception of the transportation network was largely inherited from French architect Henri Prost, the former advisor of Istanbul’s urban renovation. During his tenure from 1937 to 1951, Prost produced multiple plans for Istanbul, the last piece among which hinted the skeleton of Menderes’s plan. The idea of traffic junction was first put forward by Prost in his renovation project of Taksim Square.

(La Istanbul di Henri Prost 1931-1951) Henri Prost’s latest plan in 1951 before his departure. It shares similar features in the organization of road network with Menderes’s plan.

Menderes’s plan was at that time compared to Haussmann’s Paris and received criticisms on its massive demolition that even worsen the problems already faced by Istanbul. It is evident that Menderes was, directly or indirectly, subjected to the influence of the Haussmann’s plan for Paris. However, the axial quality of Haussmann’s plan was hardly found in Istanbul. The topographical brokenness of the city built across a strait made it difficult to work out the geometries. The Turkification of Haussmann’s concepts, or the adoption of the boulevard model in a mitigated manner according to the original urban fabric of Istanbul, reveals connections between Turkey and the Western countries both in urban planning strategies and in their understanding of a modern city. By underlining the transportation issue, efficiency was placed at the top, when other influential factors were downplayed.




Ayataç, Hatiçe. “The international diffusion of planning ideas: The case of Istanbul, Turkey.” Journal of Planning History 6, no. 2 (2007): 114-137.

Gencer, Ebru A. The interplay between urban development, vulnerability, and risk management: A case study of the Istanbul metropolitan area. Vol. 7. Springer Science & Business Media, 2013.

Gül, Murat. Architecture and the Turkish City: An Urban History of Istanbul since the Ottomans 2017.

Gül, Murat. The Emergence of Modern Istanbul: Transformation and Modernisation of a City. New York: Tauris Academic Studies. 2009.

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