Satellites capture Istanbul’s ‘gray’ transformation over past decade

Satellites capture Istanbul’s ‘gray’ transformation over past decade

Satellites capture Istanbul’s ‘gray’ transformation over past decade A comparison of 20 satellite photos hosted by Google Earth reveals how Istanbul has changed with more concrete and less green spaces in the past decade.

As the ongoing construction boom continues with controversial development projects that have angered locals and environmentalists, Mutlu Kent, an urban blog, compiled the satellite photos of Istanbul to show the appearance of various sites today and 10 years ago.

Yaşar Adnan Adanalı, a Turkish Ph. D candidate at Berlin Technical University’s International Urban Institute, said in his blog post on Oct. 29 that “all empty spaces in Istanbul are now being filled” by this transformation. 

“The construction contractors are mobilized to fill all of the empty spaces that should be protected in order to build lucrative shopping mall, residence and hotel projects. The governing mentality is also mobilized to ‘put its sign on the city’ and to conquer it,” Adanalı said.

Here are the satellite photos, first published on Mutlu Kent, now presented by Hürriyet Daily News with an interface that enables an interactive comparison:

1) Deforestation on Istanbul’s European side to make way for the roads of the politically-charged third bridge over the Bosphorus.

2) A similar scene on Istanbul’s Asian side.

3) The iconic Taksim Square remains as a gargantuan concrete field after its controversial pedestrianization project.

4) The government insists that demonstrations should not be held in Taksim, but the 27-hectare Yenikapı Square, which can reportedly accommodate 1.25 million people, that it built in less than a year on artificial land in the Marmara Sea.

5) Another controversial project led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was for a large mosque on top of Çamlıca, one of the highest hills overlooking the Bosphorus. The construction took away a large chunk of green space that was there in the past decade.

6) Validebağ, a grove that is the scene of an ongoing confrontation between locals and the police, lost a lot of its green space due to the advancing construction in the past decade.

7) A metro bridge over the Golden Horn was slammed for “ruining Istanbul’s historic silhoutte.” A comparison of satellite photos show it also decreased the amount of green space on the shores of the Golden Horn.

8) While Vahdettin Mansion was restored, its grove lost many of its trees to make way for more buildings. Erdoğan is expected to use the mansion as a presidential residence during his Istanbul visits in the near future.

9) In the Maslak neighborhood where skyscrapers rise, construction projects replaced large areas of green space, while edging out the historic Fatih Forest.

10) Green spacious parks on the shores of the Ataköy neighborhood were overwhelmed by the construction of residences in unpopular projects financed by Turkish and Qatari contractors.