In the Ottoman times this area, well outside the city walls, was the villages of Litros and Avas, populated by Greek farmers. These villagers were deported in the population exchange at the founding of the Turkish republic and the area was then settled by Turks from Macedonia. Fragments of architecture remain of this area including some fountains and a ruined church in the bowels of the bus station.
Many of the large numbers of people that migrated to Istanbul in the 60s to 90s ended up in districts like this and with a population of over half a million Esenler has desperately insufficient infrastructure, leading to over-crowded schoolrooms and many other problems. The crime rates are high, public health is lacking, young men hang around with nothing to do all day, the shops are very meagre and the people are poor.
Esenler has the huge inter-city bus terminal of the European side.