This post has been updated.
Is this for real? According to the Turkish news, a plan has been hatched, to be realized within two years, to dig a canal from the Golden Horn to the upper Bosphorus, 100 meters wide and 20 km long, following along existing stream beds. It would then cut off part of the European side of Istanbul and make it “look like Manhattan”, surrounded by water. Why? The canal will be used for transportation. It will also, according to the plan, flush the Golden Horn with water from the Bosphorus. (click here, in Turkish) Oh, I forgot to mention: it will cost 20 million dollars. Um, make that 8-10 billion. The project is even bigger and more insane than the description above. Apparently the government plans to build a second Bosphorus so that the tankers will go through there instead. The third Istanbul bridge will then have pillars, since no big ships will be going through the Bosphorus any more. Click here for the article. (Thanks, Bulent.) Am I just being a stick-in-the-mud to think this is nuts? Here’s a picture of it:
This seems like an insane idea to me. The Bosphorus is underused for transportation — ferries only run early morning down toward the city and late afternoon up the Bosphorus to the north. There used to be more ferries scheduled, so you could actually use the Bosphorus to get around, rather than having to sit in a cab in the inevitable traffic jams along the shore. So put more ferries in service along the Bosphorus! Or build another tramway. And what about environmental impact? Archaeological impact? Earthquake impact? What will be the effect on (and of) the strong currents of the Bosphorus? What would be the result for people living along the new Turkish Hudson River; will they be compensated? What will be torn down? What about the land that will be lost in this, one of Istanbul’s most crowded areas? It’s nuts, nuts, nuts.
Despite all its talk about the grand Ottoman era, this government has no respect for traditional architecture (see my posts on Istanbul’s “gentrification”, under the post category ‘Istanbul’) or for the environmental and urban heritage of what was once considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. No. Carve it up, tear it down, replace it with middle-class housing with fake “Ottoman” details and, the most insane idea of all, make Istanbul into Manhattan. (OK, readers. You heard me rant. It doesn’t happen often. Enjoy it.)