New York Times readers voted Istanbul as the place they most want to go in 2011. And Andrew Finkel has written about Istanbul’s remarkable (and uncontrolled) transformation into the world’s most dynamic city. Click here for the full article. Excerpt:
“Istanbul is a country, not a city,” says its mayor, Kadir Topbas, and the explanation of its modern boom is buried in the history of the past 30 years….
Turkey is already a young country – the average age is 29 – but Istanbul is even younger. People come there to work and often retire somewhere else. And if Turkey is notoriously poor at getting women into formal employment, nearly half of them work in Istanbul.
A recent study by the Washington-based Brookings Institution, in a joint investigation with the LSE Cities project, judged that Istanbul had beaten Beijing and Shanghai to claim the title of 2010’s most dynamic city.
“Istanbul takes the top ranking for economic growth in the past year,” wrote Alan Berube, director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Programme. “Its economy expanded by 5.5% on a per capita basis, and employment rose an astonishing 7.3% between 2009 and 2010. Turkey’s banking sector, which was less invested in risky financial instruments, became a safe haven for global capital fleeing established (and exposed) markets during the downturn.”
Economists may be just realising that Istanbul is the place to be. Couch surfers and Erasmus exchange students have known this for some time. If emerging markets are kick-starting the global economy, creative dynamism is ebbing away from the old centres to the new. Istanbul is fast resembling Henry Miller’s Paris or the post-Soviet city-wide party in Prague where western twentysomethings can spend that critical time between university and life. “You just can’t just show up in New York or London and hope to fit in,” says Katherine Ammirati, 23, from Berkeley, California. “At least not without a plan bankrolled by well-heeled parents.”…