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April 14, 2018

10 Amazing Vintage Photographs of Istanbul in the 1910s

The city today known as Istanbul has been the site of human settlement for approximately three thousand years. The settlement was founded by Thracian tribes between the 13th and 11th centuries BC, whose earliest known name is Lygos. It was colonised by the Greeks in the 7th century BC. It fell to the Roman Republic in AD 196, and was known as Byzantium until 330, when it was renamed Constantinople and made the new capital of the Roman Empire.

During late antiquity, the city rose to be the largest of the western world, with a population peaking at close to half a million people. Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which ended with the Muslim conquest in 1453. Constantinople then became the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Here, below are 10 amazing photographs of Istanbul in the 1910s:

1. Balloons in Talimhane, 1910

Balloons were the first mechanisms used in air warfare and France was the first country who had successfully flown balloons in the last quarter of the 18th century. The Ottomans were behind developments. This photo which was taken in Talimhane in 1910 shows one of the first balloon experiments for the Turkish Air Force. It rises above the Istanbul skyline, and the curious crowd watching it.

2. Barry Family at Büyükada, ca. 1910-12

Barry family was one of the Levantine families in Constantinople, with roots going back to England and Italy. The father of Albert Barry, Joseph Barry, was the court dentist during the reign of Sultan Abdulhamid II. Albert Barry also was the dentist, worked in his office at Mısır Apartment in Beyoğlu until his death in 1962. He was also interested in photography. As he is not in the photo he may be the photographer of this photo which shows the Barry family at Büyükada around 1910-12.

3. Blue Mosque, 1919

Sultanahmet Mosque or popularly known as the Blue Mosque has always been the Istanbul’s most touristic attraction along with the Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace, Basilica Cistern and Galata Tower. This mosque has five main domes, six point three minarets, and eight secondary domes. It is said to be the last great mosques of the classical period. This photo shows the Blue Mosque in 1919.

4. Bomonti Beer Factory, ca. 1910s

Swiss brothers named Adolf and Walter Bomonti moved to Istanbul and established a brewery for a beer. It was Turkey’s first major beer factory, built in Istanbul in 1890, and later moved the factory in 1902 to the Bomonti neighbourhood. This photo shows the people enjoying their beer in the garden of Bomonti Beer Factory in the 1910s.

5. British Army on the İstiklal Street, January 1919

The “Sick Man of Europe” for over 100 years, Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers and entered World War I on October 28, 1914. The decision of the Ottoman Empire to enter the First World War was a catastrophic mistake which resulted in the empire’s occupation by the victorious allies. This photo is proof of this horrible mistake as it shows the occupation of Constantinople. The British troops of the “Army of Occupation of Constantinople” are awaiting General Allenby on the İstiklal Street in January of 1919.

6. Fishermen on the Shore of Bebek Neighborhood

It is safe to say that there was no place such abundant in fish as the Bosporus and there was no place where there were so many taken. Once upon a time, fishing dominated life in Istanbul thanks to the fertile sea which surrounded the city on three sides. The most common fish spicy was mackerel which migrated annually between the Aegean and the Black Sea. When they were on the way, Istanbul strait was full of migrating mackerel and it was a feast for the fishermen in Istanbul. This photo is proof of this feast as fishermen are beaching the mackerels easily on the shore of Bebek neighborhood.

7. Panoramic View of Istanbul

A great photo shows a panoramic view of Istanbul. You can see the Kabataş neighbouhood, the ferries are crossing the Bosporus, the famous Maiden Tower is apparent, and the Üsküdar neighborhood is in the background. It is safe to say, Istanbul was not a concrete jungle that is evident in the photo!

8. Phanar Greek Orthodox College, ca. 1910s

This is one of the most beautiful photos from the beginning years of the 1910s. Probably the photographer took the picture from a small boat on the Golden Horn. Here is Fener shore, which looks completely different than its today’s appearance, and with its wooden houses, the neighborhood looks really amazing in the photo. However, the photo’s most striking attraction is definitely the Phanar Greek Orthodox College which is called as The Red School by the locals.

9. The Galata Bridge

This photo shows two coolies are on the Galata Bridge. No way to know what they were carrying or for whom but their financial situation is evident if we compare their clothing with the man on the left, who was wearing shoes of high quality, black long coat and fez, a truncated cone made of red felt.

10. Sultanahmet Demonstrations, 23 May, 1919

This photo is witness of the Sultanahmet Demonstrations which was a milestone for the national awakening for Turks to give a start to Turkish Independence War. It was series of rallies in 1919 at Sultanahmet to protest the occupation of İzmir by Greeks after the Ottomans lost the First World War. This photo was taken on 23 May, 1919 and published by the newspaper Hakimiyet-i Milliye.

(via We Love Istanbul)


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