More than a decade ago, when the words “Galata” and “gentrification” were used in the same sentence, it did not mean much to me; I did not see it coming. There was not a single soul in the back streets, and it would give me a chill if I were to park my car after it got dark. You could still hear grumpy old men talking in Greek. I remember how my discovery of the Genoese coat of arms on one of the buildings on a sunday blew me off my feet. The worn-out floor tiles of old buildings and the big chandeliers at the entrances, unlike anything else you would see in the rest of the city, gave me a sweet taste of old cosmopolitan Istanbul, which was about to fade away completely. In abandoned buildings, it was so easy to find our way to the roof tops of Galata, which would bring along a sense of freedom, and the urge to shout on the roof tops. The breeze would flow through the windows, and I would stare at the reflections on the windows; sometimes the cross, sometimes the star while the ezan, the call to prayer was filling our ears.
I need to write this so that I keep the imagery and the feeling alive. So that it becomes a part of collective memory. The old stock passed away or as a result of gentrification, moved out giving way to a new breed of rebellious youngsters, who have flooded Galata’s narrow and hilly streets in the past years.
An Art-Deco store sign giving away the charm of old Pera. No one uses the word Pera anymore while referring to the area. What is Pera? Where is Pera? My dad used to say once upon a time no one would dare to go to Pera without a tie. Really? Not in my wildest dreams would I imagine it to be so.
One of the best things about Istanbul I never take for granted is the dirt cheap freshly squeezed fruit juice we can have by the street sides. 1 lira is like 50 cents, for your info:)
If you are looking out for the street art of the young and defiant, Galata, Karaköy, and Tophane would be the places to photograph it. Better to go on sundays to see the graffiti on the closed shutters.