Turkey: For Historic Istanbul Terminal, Has the Development Train Left the Station?
In the previous post, I linked to a recent National Public Radio piece about Istanbul's rapid development and how that growth is causing concerns among preservationists worried about seeing the city's historical structures vanish or "transformed" into something unrecognizable.One of the spots the story focuses on is the historic Haydarpasa railway station on Istanbul's Asian side, in operation since 1909 but now closed for two years while work is done on a high-speed train line from Istanbul to Ankara. Preservationists and other critics of the project worry that the closing will be more than temporary and is just a ruse for turning the station -- a coveted piece of urban real estate -- into yet another shopping mall. These worries are not unfounded. As a recent article in Today's Zaman put it: "The most important feature of the renovated railway station will be its transformation into a sort of cultural center where people will be able to mingle, visit and shop."An article in today's Hurriyet Daily News (via Radikal) gives a bit more on the plan to "transform" the station and the surrounding area, citing a development plan recently approved by the Istanbul municipality. From the article:
The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipal Council approved a zoning scheme to transform an area of nearly 1 million-square-meters into the Haydarpaşa Port, a prospective center for culture, tourism and commerce, despite criticism from some quarters.
The area in question also includes the historic Haydarpaşa Train Station, the roof of which was partially burned in a fire last November.
Once the scheme is implemented, the entrance floor of the station will continue to serve as a railway terminal, but its upper stories will host the offices of the Turkish State Railways (TCDD) as well as a museum, exhibition and concert halls and accomodation facilities for tourists.
The United Trade Union of Transport Employees (BTS), however, has objected to the scheme on the grounds that it runs counter to both national and international norms of conservation, opting for commercialism rather than protection.
There are few things in the world of travel that rival the experience of crossing the Bosphorus on a ferry and the alighting at the Ottoman-era quay at Haydarpasa and then walking through the historic station to get to your train. It's pure magic, the kind that evokes a romantic sense of old-time travel that's mostly vanished from other places. Let's hope that magic will be allowed to return.