Listen to an audio program on NPR here about what is happening to Istanbul. Excerpt from the article by Peter Kenyon:
Haydarpasa train station, a 19th century landmark in Istanbul…Officially, the station is closing temporarily, for repairs and the laying of high-speed track. But employees fear that during the two-year closure, the decision will be made to convert the station to a more lucrative purpose. Plans are still under discussion, but possibilities include a luxury hotel, perhaps with a museum, and a shopping mall.
Working-class neighborhoods have been cleared of their inhabitants to make way for villas and hotels. Public schools and hospitals, some in historic buildings, are being sold to private developers. And a third bridge across the Bosporus is planned, which would bring roads and development to a large swath of forest land in the city’s northern reaches.
Taksim Square, part of which has been a park since the early 1940s… Until World War II, an Ottoman military barracks stood on the spot. The historic building fell into disuse and was demolished to create the park. But now, many trees have red marks on them, signifying that they will be cut down so the park can be turned into a shopping mall.
[Film director Imre] Azem says developers have long coveted this prime property but were blocked by laws protecting the city’s green spaces. Then they hit on the idea, he says, of using Turkey’s laws on preserving historic buildings. ”In order to protect this already-demolished building, they’re rebuilding it,” he says. “They’re saying they’re preserving it, but it’s already gone. They’re making a restoration of the old barracks, like an imitation, which will serve as a shopping mall.”…