AN ABANDONED CULTURE STRUGGLING TO LAST
As a group including six students, our task was researching about Sadri Alışık Street which is one of the back streets of Beyoğlu. First of all it can be said that, our area was a perfect example of “dirty outside world”. Actually, the entrance of the street looks like a regular part of İstiklal Street with the shops and fast-food dining places. However, as we walked through inner parts of the street, the atmosphere clearly changed. It is a street combining the modern sights, ordinary people and extraordinary night life. The complexity and heterogeneous side of İstanbul in terms of population could be realized in this nostalgical and authentic street. This paper aims to analyze the architectural and social structure of Sadri Alışık Street in terms of financial situation, the habitation and the historical of the street.
At the entrance of the street all the buildings are well kept, the building are painted; but when you walk into the street it chances and the buildings lost their modern and clean look. Obviously the financial situation of the habitants goes parallel with the buildings outlook. At the very beginning of the street there is a Swatch shop fronting to İstiklal Street and also there are some dinning places with cheap prices probably for students and workers around. As one proceeds he can see a more pricy restaurant for both native and foreigner visitors. The street starts with usual stores and business places that can be seen in Taksim everywhere with average prices addressing to all people with different financial status. These are comparatively shapely buildings.
After approximately 350-500 meters, neglected locales began to appear. Barber, laundry and tea & coffee house with card games for habitants show that there is also a habitation besides of trades. Another striking side of this street is that the atmosphere along the street reflect the name of the it. The wall-paints are generally about “Yeşilçam” and that makes a fantastic appearance while walking by.
In financial terms, there’s a variety of different social and financial status of people visiting or living in this street. While there are shopkeepers all around, there are also different types of people passing by as it was mentioned above. To understand the financial mood of this street better, first we’ll have a look at the general ambience and also the interview with one of the shopkeepers which is given at the end of the analysis could give the reader more clues.
Sitting at a tea & coffee house fronting to Sadri Alışık Street, different kinds of people walking around the street could be seen. At the first glimpse, it might be thought that they were wandering around aimlessly. Then, it was seen that, one was going to the cafe while the other was entering one of the stores. The people sitting in a cafe, mostly, seemed to be university students. The difference of social and financial status between people from their outfit and style, from the cafe they were in, from the beverages they drank could be realized. Additionally, it could be realized that some people were talking about work and some people came only to eat and go back to work. The relationship between people was mechanic, as if people were only living to spend time. Cafes were the usual places for people to make themselves comfortable because of life stress.
But this was the day part of the street. The striking point of this street which makes it a real “dirty outside world” is the night life and the security problems within.
Sadri Alışık Street can be seen as a shadow of the extreme life in Taksim. It can be said that the life in this street reflects the diversity of the people and their togetherness in the one street. Naturally; the dissimilarity of the people creates a lot of problem in this street as we understood from our observations. For example; security is one of the most distinct problem lived in the Sadri Alışık Street. Although there is a police station in the street and also security cameras the habitants of the street experience lots of problems about their security especially in the nights as it is understoond from our group’s dialogues with them. They also said that in the night clubs almost every night an event occurs and that disturbs the habitants of the street.
Another problem is about the transexuals living in the street. Though the habitants don’t feel uneasy presence of them but their bargains for the sex make the habitants uncomfortable in their living spaces. It can be said that the police and illegal affairs is in the conflict in this street despite of the police station within the reach of street. It can be clearly seen by anyone who visits the Sadri Alışık Street that the general atmosphere of the street is almost the same with the chaotic nature of İstanbul so no one who lives in Taksim can be suprised by the nature of the street as we also considered.
What is striking about this street is also its interesting history. In the middle of the street there is a cafe which takes attention. Its name is cinema cafe and has an interesting fascia. When one enters that cafe, he can see people playing cards together. The inside of the cafe is very worn-out and there are many photos hanged on the wall. Most of these photos shall look very familiar for a person who spent his childhood or adulthood in Turkey in 1990’s or before. All of the photos belong to former cinema actors and actresses of “Yeşilçam”. An old man, the owner of the cafe, who has also performed in Turkish cinema told that the cafe has been there for almost fourty years. What the owner of the cafe told that at the first years of the cafe, many movie actors used to the street for business. However, after the film sector began to lose popularity, actors began to waste time in that cafe. He added that sometimes famous actors visited the cafe and most of the actors whose photos were hung on the walls were dead.
While analysing the situation of the cafe we’ve met two figurants. Like the others in the cafe, they told us that they had performed in Yeşilçam movies, as well. Nearly thirty years ago, Sadri alışık street had a place in movie sector, so it was one of the center for finding the right actors for movies. However, it began to lose that position when Yeşilçam lost popularity. The people in the cafe said that the aim of the street was not the same anymore and different types of people visiting the steet could be seen now.
We as a group sensed that Sadri Alışık Street was a good place to do cultural analysis as we proceeded along the street. The financial diversity, the unaccustomed type of habitation, the changing appearance of the buildings along the street and the former golden times of it make Sadri Alışık Street a part of the culture of the outside world. It reflects the artistic history of Turkish nation and how it trys to maintain itself in spite of abandonment financially and socially.
INTERVIEW WITH THE OWNER OF SECOND-HAND PROPERTY STORE
Question: For whom do you open this shop?
Tradesman: I work for movie sector, serials and those kinds of fields’ activities. When I get bored, I open display stand or case to sell book during the intervening time. I can illustrate what my shop’s including and my work; there was a fire over there last night and I found books that had been read by people under sentence. Those books include different meanings. I gathered those clothes different people, so they possess distinct cultural traces.
Question: What kind of people come to your shop?
Tradesman: Curious customers, actors and actresses and people in the advertising business come to visit my shop.
Question: How are your customers’ economic situations? Are they prosperous or financially avarage ones?
Tradesman: Sometimes, people who have five liras in his pocket come and buy two or three books, sometimes affluent people come; in other words, it changes…
Question: From where do you procure these different cultural clothes and the other original goods?
Tradesman: I have been Istanbul for forty five years.
Question: Have you been in Sadri Alışık Street for forty five years?
Tradesman: I stayed different districts in Istanbul. I stayed Dolapdere, Gypsy’s neighborhoods and so on. I had good friendships with them. I had been in their weddings, funerals, and I buy goods on their valid price, I do not defraud them with buying goods under their price. For example; some recipients buys their goods low prices very nearly, they do not give money, they gives ten liras and then they sell it for ten thousand dollars in foreign countries.
Question: For how many years have you been Sadri Alışık Street?
Tradesman: I have been here for eleven years.
Question: How is this street’s social order?
Tradesman: Transexuals live here, and also there are some families.
Question: Do transexuals cause any problems?
Tradesman: I sometimes come across some problems, quarrels; but police station is also here. There is a contradiction. Policemen do not intervene all of the quarrels. You can place your camera opposite of their apartment house. You can see that, they throw their key from balcony and customers’ of them enters with that key fairly easy. They have that kind of life.
Question: Number of inhabitants in this in this street is males, isn’t it?
Tradesman: This way goes to dealers in antiques, so It is not comfortable for female inhabitants.
Question: Last question, would you tell the street’s other qualities to us?
Tradesman: This shop’s and next building will be hotel. Sadri Alışık Street will be magnificent street, but we need ten years for it.
Ayşe Seden AKTÜRK