Let’s Turn Istanbul Into Manhattan! Wait, Let’s Build A Second Bosphorus!

This post has been updated.

Image from Radikal

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:

Image from Hurriyet

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.)

6 Responses to “Let’s Turn Istanbul Into Manhattan! Wait, Let’s Build A Second Bosphorus!”

  1. If we truly wanted it to be like Manhattan, we’d have something like the NYPL and a subway that runs 24/7.

  2. Alternatively, the cılgın projesi is a second Bosphorus: http://bit.ly/a9MqSB

  3. More on this from Zaman, apparently the claim from the PM’s office is that this will be a hedge against environmental disaster and not some cargo cult Manhattan project. Here: http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/news-223699-pm-envisions-2nd-strait-in-istanbul-as-hedge-against-environmental-disaster.html

  4. Insane plan, which will never materialize. But the Golden Horn needs a serious flush! It’s so unclean, stinks so bad, a disaster for the city; extreme measures must be taken. But a 2nd strait?

  5. [...] Let’s Turn Istanbul Into Manhattan! from Kamil Pasha by Jenny White Image from Radikal [...]

  6. Oh, and, the mayor is planning to do something with rocks the dug out from a tunnel under the Bosphorus (no not Marmaray, Marmaray is a tube. This is a tunnel deep in the rock for some water project). Apparently they’ll sell them with certificates of authenticity as being from where Europe and Asia meet – 135m. From here:
    Avrupa – Asya Sıfır noktası eksi 135 metre diyeceğiz.. Oradaki taşlar atılabilirdi. Biz o taşları, sıfır noktasındaki taşları alıp raporladık, nasıl değerlendirebiliriz diye kafa yorduk. Yarın ben bunu müzelerde, farklı satış noktalarında İstanbul Boğazı sıfır noktası eksi 135 metre sertifikalı ürün verdiğimde ilginç olmayacak mı?

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