İzmir Rıhtımı'ndan bir görünüm, 1860 - 1900, GRI Digital Collections
A view from İzmir Port, 1860 - 1900, GRI Digital Collections.
İzmir Rıhtımı'ndan genel görünüm, 1880 - 1890
General view from İzmir Port, 1880 - 1890.
İzmir Rıhtımı, liman kesimi, arka planda Konak Pier, 1915, Library of Congress
İzmir Port, Konak Pier in the background, 1915, Library of Congress.

İzmir Quay

İzmir quay, which the people of İzmir call 'Kordon' today, has been the most important symbol of İzmir since its construction. When it was completed in 1876, it changed the whole face of İzmir and increased the commercial potential of the city exponentially. At the beginning of the 20th century, İzmir had turned into the brightest port city of the Eastern Mediterranean.

İzmir Before the Quay

Increasing its commercial potential in the 19th century, İzmir did not have a sheltered port where large-tonnage ships could dock. Cargoes were usually transported by barges, which greatly increased the cost of freight. Worse, businesses and consulates located by the sea built their own piers over time, and in this way they were doing business without paying any taxes. No matter how much precautions the Ottoman administration took, they could not prevent smuggling. In this way, some merchants acquired great wealth and had a great influence in the city. In order to prevent this significant tax loss, Bâb-ı Âli started the first attempts to build a pier in İzmir in the early 1860s.

İzmir genel görünüm ve Sarı Kışla, 1850 - 1890, Jean Paul Getty Museum
Yellow Barracks and general view of İzmir, 1850 - 1890, Jean Paul Getty Museum.
1873 Depremi, 8 Mart 1873 Sayılı Illustrated London News gazetesi
1873 Earthquake, issue of 8 March 1873 Illustrated London News.

The second half of the 19th century passed as an earthquake storm for İzmir and the Aegean. The earthquakes that took place in İzmir and its surroundings in 1865, 1866, 1867, 1871 and 1873 had caused great damage to the businesses in the city, especially on the seaside. In the earthquake that took place on February 1, 1873, many cafes and restaurants on wooden piles on the beach were sunk into the water with their customers, and there was a great disaster. The earthquake, which was also mentioned in the London Illustrated News published on March 8, 1873, would nullify all objections to the construction of the pier and accelerate the construction.

The Ottoman Empire signed a contract with three British entrepreneurs of İzmir origin giving the necessary concessions for the construction of the pier. A company called 'Smyrna Quay Company' (later renamed Societe Quais de Smyrne) was established to implement the project. The construction of the quay will be done by the Dussaud Brothers, who have built almost all the major port constructions in the Mediterranean.

The company plans to finance the project by selling the new parcels to be released with the construction to companies from İzmir. However, according to the contract, the fact that the company will get a share from all the trade to be made from the pier creates great dissatisfaction for the companies in İzmir. The people of İzmir do not show interest in the parcels they put up for sale by protesting the company. The company went into financial crisis and went bankrupt in 1869. In the same year, Dussaud Brothers will buy the bankrupt company and complete the contract. The Dussaud Brothers slightly modified the original plan and added a 900 meter long breakwater to the project to create a sheltered, 20-hectare inner harbor in front of the customs area. The construction of the pier was completed in 1876. A total area of 146,000 m2 has been filled at depths ranging from 50 to 100 meters.

İzmir Rıhtımı, 1860 - 1900, GRI Digital Collections
Port of İzmir, 1860 - 1900, GRI Digital Collections.

According to the project, the İzmir Dock was to be applied to the 4-kilometer coastline, starting from Kışla-i Hümayun (Yellow Barracks) to Aydın Train Station (Alsancak Train Station). A breakwater would be built on the coast, and structures consisting of customs warehouses and offices stretching towards the sea would be built. The part extending from Konak Pier to Passport was planned as the commercial part of the pier. An 18-meter-wide road would be built on the seashore, and a tram line would be laid on the road. Trains would be able to run on this line on certain days of the year and in the evenings on this line, and they would be able to come to the train station opposite Konak Pier.

Konak Atatürk Square

Konak Atatürk Square, which forms the heart of the city of İzmir today, has undergone many changes and transformations in the historical process and has taken on the structure we see today. In the 1750s, the area that formed the square was an area on the side of Kemeraltı and the inns area, where soap shops were concentrated, and was full of small businesses and workshops. The sea was about 40 meters inland compared to its current position.

Katipzadeler Döneminde İnşa Edilen Hükümet Konağının İllustrasyonu
Govenment House that was built in the period of Katipzadeler,

Government House

The building that allowed a public identity to be attributed to the region was located here, the Voyvoda Mansion, where the family who collected the tax in İzmir according to the ayanlik system stayed. The mansion, which belonged to the Ali Pasha Foundation, was rented by the Ottoman Empire and allocated to the notable family, who collected the taxes in İzmir. Katipzades, the last representative of the Ayanlik system in İzmir, had the existing mansion demolished and a new mansion built in the early 1800s. In 1808, II. With the abolition of the ayan system within the scope of Mahmud's reforms, the Katipzades also came to an end.

The mansion built by Katipzadeler continued to be used as the governor's office for a while by the Ottoman administration, and in the early 1870s, a magnificent government mansion was built by demolishing it to make a prestigious administration building for the developing and growing İzmir. This building continued to be used as the Government House until a major fire in the 1970s, and the building was rebuilt in accordance with its original form in the 1980s.

Sarı Kışla Genel Görünüm, 1880, SALT Araştırma
General View of Yellow Barracks, 1880, SALT Araştırma.

Kışla-i Hümayun (Yellow Barracks)

Kisla-i Humayun (Yellow Barracks), which is one of the most important elements that made Konak Ataturk Square gain a public identity, but is not standing today, is the third built structure of the square. As a result of the chain of events that took place in 1826 and brought the end of the Janissary Corps, it was decided to build a new barracks in İzmir. The region close to the Government House was selected, the businesses on the land were expropriated, and the extra land needed for the building was obtained by filling the sea 20 meters. The Barracks-i Humayun, whose construction was completed in 1829, was the most magnificent structure ever built in İzmir.

The building was purchased by the İzmir Municipality on the grounds that it occupied the most beautiful part of İzmir in the Republican Period, prevented the inner quarters from getting air, and had structural problems, and then it was demolished between 1950-53. Today, there is a huge void that forms Konak Atatürk Square.

Port Customs and Railroad

The construction process of Konak Pier, known as the former French Customs, started long before the construction of the pier. The French, who also operated the İzmir customs within the scope of the capitulations obtained from the Ottoman Empire, received permission to fill the sea from Bab-ı Ali, since the existing structures were not sufficient. Later, they expanded the embankment towards the sea so that large tonnage ships could dock. They extended the breakwater in order to build new storage areas as needed, and by the end of the century they reached a filling area of 40 meters wide and 100 meters long.

Konak Pier

In 1880, a customs complex was built on the filled pier perpendicular to the sea, by filling in the area in front of the old customs building, which has not yet been filled. The construction group consisting of customs buildings, port offices and warehouses becomes insufficient for the rapidly increasing trade in İzmir with the construction of the quay. The new project prepared in 1888, extra warehouse structures were added to both sides of the building, leaving the existing customs building in the middle. On the south side of Konak Pier, facing the open sea, a section is built along the length of the pier, with its metal pole and roof, where barges dock and unload. In 1906, it was decided to expand the complex again and in this direction, another 115 x 50 meters filling was made at the southern end of the complex. With this latest expansion project undertaken by the French Architect Alexandre Vallaury, Konak Pier regains its present appearance.

İzmir Gümrüğü (Konak Pier), 1900, Sebah Joallier, Alman Arkeoloji Enstitüsü İstanbul
Customs (Konak Pier), 1900, Sebah Joallier, Alman Arkeoloji Enstitüsü Istanbul.

İzmir-Aydın Railway

The Ottoman Empire had its first experience with the railway during the Crimean War. Realizing that the railway line laid by the British had a great share in the victory, the Sultan sent letters to the European ambassadors in Istanbul expressing his interest in this issue.

In February 1856, under the leadership of Robert Wilkin, 4 British merchants living in İzmir applied to Bab-ı Ali for the construction of a railway between İzmir and Aydın provinces. After the negotiations, the Ottoman administration granted a 50-year concession to the British-based 'Ottoman Railway Company' company to carry out the project. According to the concession, the company would be able to use the mines and forests located on the public lands during the construction of the railway, and to make mining on the lands located within 45 kilometers of the line by paying low taxes.

Osmanlı Demiryolu İşletmesi Hisse Senedi, 1905
Stock Certificate of the Ottoman Railway Company, 1905.
İzmir-Aydın Demiryolu Planı, 1860
Plan of İzmir-Aydın Railway, 1860.
İzmir'e mal taşıyan deve kervanı, 1850 - 1900
Caravan carrying goods to İzmir, 1850 - 1900.

The products grown in the hinterland of İzmir were mostly transported to the city by camels, processed in large warehouses and inns in the city center, and then transferred to the port for export. Problems such as theft and banditry, which were constantly experienced during the shipment of goods, were a headache not only for the merchants but also for the Ottoman Empire. The railroad would not only ensure the safe shipment of goods, but also reduce the transport that used to take days to hours.

İzmir - Aydın Demiryolu açılış töreni, 1850, David Hall McKewan, Victoria and Albert Museum
Opening ceremony of İzmir - Aydın railway, 1850, David Hall McKewan, Victoria and Albert Museum.

In order to start the construction quickly, the dismantled train tracks in Crimea were purchased and the first digging was struck in a big ceremony held in İzmir in September 1857. İzmir-Aydın Railway, which will go down in history as the first railway project in Anatolia, is important in terms of showing the commercial potential of İzmir and its surroundings. Traders of European origin, who settled in İzmir in the 19th century, discovered the economic potential of the region and were exporting industrial products such as dried fruit and cotton, which were in great demand in the European market, through İzmir for a long time. While they were trading with the products they bought from the producers at the beginning, they started production on the lands they bought thanks to the great wealth they had obtained.

İzmir - Aydın Demiryolu İnşaatı, David Hall McKewan, Victoria and Albert Museum
Construction of İzmir - Aydın Railway, David Hall McKewan, Victoria and Albert Museum.

The project included the construction of 130 kilometers of railway line and many associated structures such as stations, warehouses, workshops, customs offices, piers to be built on this line. The first phase of the project, which was planned to be completed in 1860 and divided into three parts, covered the distance between İzmir and Selatin Mountain, the second phase of the 11-kilometer tunnel to be opened on Selatin Mountain, and the third phase between Selatin Mountain and Aydın. The first two phases of the project started at the same time. 500 people were working in the tunnel excavation and 3000 people were working in the train line.

The railway project, which was delayed due to many reasons such as financial problems, changes in the project due to the landslide in the tunnel excavation, problems caused by the land, floods and cholera epidemic, was completed in 1866 with a delay of 6 years. Undoubtedly, activity started in the parts that were completed before the entire line was completed. Although there are debates about when the first train departed in the Ottoman Empire, it is known that the İzmir-Torbalı line was opened with a ceremony on December 28, 1860.

İzmir'e giriş yapmakta olan bir tren, David Hall McKewan, Victoria and Albert Museum
A train on its way to İzmir, David Hall McKewan, Victoria and Albert Museum.

Within the scope of the project, the station complex, which we know today as Alsancak Station, was built in the back area of the port. The center, consisting of a passenger terminal, administration buildings, maintenance workshops and lodgings, was loaded and unloaded from a wooden pier on the seaside. The tram line, which started to work on the beach after the completion of the dock construction, also created an opportunity for the İzmir-Aydin railway. The tram line and the railway would be connected to each other, so that the goods coming from the railway could be transported directly to the city center and the port by trains. A station structure was built directly opposite the Customs building (Konak Pier) where trains can enter. Thus, the export product loaded in Aydın could be transported to the side of the ship without loading and unloading.

İzmir - Aydın Hattı Gümrük İstasyonu, 1880 - 1910
Customs of İzmir - Aydın Railway, 1880 - 1910.

Passport Administration and Hotels

The hearth of Kordon was undoubtedly the section where the Passport Administration was located. The entry procedures of foreigners who came to İzmir were made here. Hotels and cafes lined up right in front of the building were waiting for their guests who set foot in İzmir.

Pasaport İdaresi ve Kordon'daki oteller, 1922, Library of Congress
Passport Administration and the Hotels in the Quay, 1922, Library of Congress.

With the completion of the dock construction, İzmir becomes a full port city. The cordon is soon filled with inns, warehouses, hotels and cafes. While the city was already an Ottoman city where people of many nationalities lived, it became a cosmopolitan port city in the true sense of the word, with foreigners coming for trade. The showcase of this multinational, multilingual city is the İzmir pier.

Only 20 years after the dock was built, the population of the city increased from 150 thousand to 300 thousand. The city, whose trade volume is increasing rapidly thanks to investments such as a quay and a railway, is flooded by people from all nations who want to get a share of this prosperity. The number of travelers coming to İzmir during this period is more than the sum of all times. Thanks to the İzmir port, which became the largest export port of the empire, the structure of the city also changed.

Rıhtım'dan genel görünüm, Çınar Atay Arşivi
General View from the Quay, Çınar Atay Arşivi.

Insurance Map of İzmir 1905 and Today

Kordon Buildings

The three-dimensional views of all the buildings on the İzmir Pier, from Gündoğdu Square to Konak, before the fire of 1922, are listed below.