August 14, 2014

Last Jewish Merchant on Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue

Known in the 19th century as the Grand Rue de Pera, Istiklal Avenue had its own merchant culture. Business owners and their clients built friendships, enjoyed tea and coffee together and looked after each other. No man dared show himself on Istiklal unless he was wearing a suit and tie; women were reluctant to be seen in anything but their best dresses and hats. Istiklal’s heyday came to a sudden end, however, on Sept. 6, 1955. In one night, the avenue’s minority shops were reduced to rubble and many Greek homes were invaded and damaged. Afterward, Greeks emigrated en masse. Many of Istanbul’s Jews, also affected by the pogrom, followed. The grand avenue and its beautiful Ottoman-era buildings crumbled, but a few stubborn old-time shopkeepers continued operating in their landmark locations until very recently. Now only Kelebek Corset Shop remains. 

Read more on Al Monitor: Last Jewish Merchant on Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue


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