Bagcilar Istanbul

11/21/2017
Sparsely populated countryside at the time of founding of the Turkish republic, Bagcilar means orchard in Turkish. There are no orchards here any more and Bagcilar is now a working class suburb of Istanbul, Turkey. Located behind Bahcelievler on the European side of the city, between the two major ring roads, the TEM and the E5. Istanbul's 4th biggest district, home to 600,000 people in 22 km² (you do the maths) and growing all the time.
Most of the housing in Bagcilar was illegally built Gecekondu, now replaced by rows of apartment buildings, also built with minimal regulation, cramped tightly together. Very few buildings in Bagcilar were built with proper controls or inspection. It is a classic example of failed urban planning, perhaps exemplified by the fact that Bagcilar was not created as a district in its own right until 1992, by which time the original inhabitants had all left and building in the area was completely out of control. Bagcilar is now populated by recent immigrants from Anatolia, mostly young families, mostly poor, with many children. These people are struggling to survive in narrow streets of the most basic, undecorated buildings. There is little infrastructure to support the huge population, no parks, cinemas, and very few cultural or social amenities of any kind. Except one high profile white elephant: there are few trees in Bagcilar, but there is an Olympic Sports Complex. And lots of crime. Also Bagcilar has been in the news recently as families in the area are failing to send girls to school.

In 2005 the Star newspaper printed the following research into Bagcilar:
58% of women and 30% of men are illiterate while 66% of men have finished primary school. 
56% marry within their family, commonly first cousins.
21% of children of these families are handicapped in some way.
46% of families have migrated from the east or south-east of Turkey, 28% from the Black Sea coast. 
Infant mortality is 23%.
17% of children don't go to school.
7% of families are not registered occupants of their homes. 
4% of homes have central heating. 
Average income: 150 USD per month. 
The local council is now trying to invest in parks, cafes and other amenities but the area is so full that there is little space and a lot of this is nationalist posturing by the right-wing local council (renaming streets after Turkish national heroes etc). Bagcilar is a right-wing stronghold.

Bagcilar also houses a great deal of industry, particularly light engineering, textiles, printing (Bagcilar is home to all the biggest of Turkey's newspapers and TV channels), a huge wholesale market for dry goods, a large second-hand car market, and many trucking companies, particularly along the Gunesli link road from the TEM motorway to Istanbul airport. A metro is being built which it is hoped will ease the constant stream of slowly circulating traffic.



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