chapter  Chapter 6
19 Pages

From graveyards to the “people’s gardens”

The making of public leisure space in Istanbul
WithBerin Gölönü

Turkey’s rapid neoliberal transformation is not only having a negative ecological impact on urban populations, but it is also annihilating the sites that represent its cities’ multi-layered histories. This chapter looks at the late Ottoman project of establishing the first municipal parks or gardens, also referred to as “people’s gardens”. It focuses in particular on the establishment of the Taksim garden in Istanbul’s Beyoglu district in 1870, and traces its replacement with a new city park approved by the Turkish Republican municipality in 1939. A look at the “before” view of Taksim as a graveyard/promenade in the early nineteenth century and the “after” view of Taksim as a people’s garden/promenade in the early twentieth century reveals significant changes in Ottoman garden culture. Expropriation for “public benefit” was first introduced during the municipal reforms launched the 1850s for the purposes of creating a more hygienic, safe, and beautified city with improved transportation.