A Concrete Shoreline

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Beach culture in Istanbul entered its golden age with the founding of the Turkish Republic. To some extent, this lifestyle continued until the 1960s. Turkey underwent a demographic turnover between the 1940s and the 1980s. Population grew rapidly. Furthermore, immigration began from countryside to the cities. This transformation was manifested most clearly in Istanbul. Its population increased from 1 million, to 15 million people in five decades.

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There was not enough land for these people; so the coastal zone was invaded too. The Sea of Marmara, nearly an inland sea, could not bear this population density. Coastlines were covered in concrete and asphalt. Istanbul’s sea was polluted. From that time onwards the Marmara Sea was risky to swim in. Istanbulites began to discover new summer venues and acquired summer houses on Turkey’s southern coast, in places like Bodrum, Marmaris and Antalya. Istanbul’s enjoyment of sea thus came to an end.

Curated by Zafer Toprak Istanbul’s Seaside Leisure: Nostalgia from Sea Baths to Beaches exhibition can be visited at Pera Museum and İstanbul Research Institute until August 26th!

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