Zeytinburnu (literally, "Olive Point") is a working class suburb of
Istanbul, Turkeyon its European side, on the shore of the Marmara Sea just outside the walls of the ancient city, beyond the fortress of Yedikule. Zeytinburnu has a reputation for being a 'rough area'.
Zeytinburnu was first settled by a community of Greeks who moved out of the city following the Turkish conquest, these 'priests of Jerusalem', being less willing to adapt to life under Turkish rule than those Greek communities that stayed in the city. The land they occupied was later taken over by the Turkish state.
From the early 1800s onwards Zeytinburnu was an industrial village, centred on the leather industry of the area called Kazlıçeşme, which being on the coast with a good water supply was well suited to leather production. (the area was named for a fountain with a goose carved into the stonework, the fountain is still in existence, but the goose has disappeared). Up until the mid-20th century the residents were an urban mix of Greeks, Armenians, Bulgarians, Jews and Turks and still today the Surp Pirgic Armenian hospital is active in Kazlıçeşme, and has a museum in the grounds [http://www.surppirgic.com/]
The character of Zeytinburnu changed when a large wave of immigrants from
Anatoliacame and settled there from 1950 on. Zeytinburnu is an important lesson for city planning in Turkey, because it was one of the first " Gecekondu" districts. In other words most of the buildings were built illegally, without infrastructure, and without any aesthetical concern. In the 1960s legislation was passed to prevent this type of building but by then this type of development had become unstoppable. At first these were little brick-built single storey cottages. From the 1970s onwards the little houses were replaced by multi-storey concrete apartment blocks built in rows with no space in between. In most cases the ground floor was used as a small textile workshop, and thus Zeytinburnu became a bustling industrial area with a large residential population living above the workshops. All this was still illegal and unplanned and still lacked the infrastructure and the aesthetics. After a heavy rain the streets would run with dirty water for days.
The leather industry has largely moved out to Tuzla now but the rows of six-storey blocks of housing and textiles remains. Although some improvements have been made to the streets and drainage the area still has a reputation for being the home of tough men and uncontrollable youths who drive around in cars blasting out pop music at high-volume. Possibly this is exaggerated nowadays, and steps are being taken to smarten up the area. Most residents are working class, recent migrants from Anatolia, typically lacking in education. However, the younger generations are more educated thus changing the shape of Zeytinburnu.
To integrate the district with the rest of Istanbul, the municipality has improved the transportation by extending the modern tram line to Zeytinburnu, and the main tram station is now at the intersection of fast tram lines leading to
Atatürk International Airport, Istanbul's inter-city coach station and the old city in Eminönü. Other important projects have improved the transportation, life quality and the economics of the district. Olivium Outlet Centerwas opened in 2000, [http://www.olivium.com] , a modern shopping mall with cinemas, but with many shops specialising in factory surpluses, this has brought new shopping opportunities for the people of Zeytinburnu and surrounding districts, it's very crowded at weekends.
There is an
Alevicommunity served by the Erikli Baba Cemevi.
There are large minority groups of Kazakhs and Turkmens who generally work in the textile, clothing industry contributing to the turkish economy.
In the early 1990s a top-flight football team, now languishing in the minor leagues.
Arif Erdemand Emre Belözoğlustarted their careers here. Matjaz Cvikl, Slovenian National Team player, who died just a few years after played there also.
[http://www.zeytinburnu.bel.tr/homepage.cfm | local council website in English] [http://www.zeytinburnu.gov.tr/ | district governor's website )in Turkish)]
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