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PROST, HENRI

In 2013 work began on the renovation of Taksim Square. One controverial  part of the plan envisaged the rebuilding of the giant barracks that used to stand where Gezi Park is now.

The demolition of these barracks was one part of the grand plans for Istanbul drawn up for mayor Lütfı Kırdar by French town planner Henri Prost (1874-1959) who worked in the city from 1936 to 1951.

 

In his vision Gezi Park was to be the start of an extended green belt that would stretch as far as Maçka, a sort of İstanbul equivalent of Paris' Bois de Boulogne.

Although Prost seems to have been inspired by memories of the planned capital of the Eastern Roman Empire with its wide, straight boulevards, those who have seen his handiwork (including Atatürk Bulvarı, Beyazit Meydanı and the Golden Horn coast roads) may be reminded more forcefully of the Vandals who eventually destroyed Rome itself.

To be fair, it was Prost’s unenviable task to try to convert an old city of horse-drawn transport into a modern one suitable for cars.

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