Every single city around the world has some specific symbols attached to it. We may travel to New York City to watch NYC Square, or we may go to China to see the Great Wall of China. Here in Turkey some symbols are really amazing and they even improved it to remain within the same value till these days. One of Turkey and Istanbul’s big symbols is the Tramway. These days we can get the tramway to reach from downtown to Kabataş etc. but this symbol has a big different story. Let the story begins.
The construction of the tramway in Istanbul was realized as a result of the concession granted to Kostantin Karapano Efendi and the first line was opened in 1871 with a ceremony held in Tophane between Azapkapı and Beşiktaş. in 1869 the “Contract for the Construction of Tramways and Facilities in Dersaadet” was given to the Istanbul Tramway Company, founded by Karapano Efendi for 40 years. The company expanded its field of activity in the following years, and from 1881 onwards, it became known as the Dersaadet Tramway Company.
One of the first horse-drawn tramways was established between Azapkapı-Beşiktaş and this line was later extended to our beautiful Ortaköy. Then Eminönü-Aksaray, Aksaray-Yedikule and Aksaray-Topkapi lines opened by using 430 horses in the first year of operation for 4.5 million passengers and 53 thousand Liras in profit. Later, the lines of Kabristan Street-Tepebaşı-Taksim-Pangaltı-Şişli, Bayezid-Şehzadebaşı, Fatih-Edirnekapı-Galatasaray-Tünel and Eminönü-Bahçekapı were opened from Voyvoda.
The tram started to operate within the borders of the Ottoman Empire because of its own extensions and the land that were taken that era and were later established in the big cities of the empire, first in Thessaloniki, then in Damascus, Baghdad, Izmir and Konya. In 1880, the idea of stations and stops was started on trams. It was standing where the passenger had wanted before, which slowed down its speed. In 1883, a tram line was installed on Galata, Tepebaşı and Cadde-i Kebir (İstiklal Street) where we still can see the rails on the street in Taksim. In 1911, Beşiktaş and Şişli tram depots were opened in 1912. Upon the start of the Balkan War in 1912, all the horses (430 horeses) which belong to the Istanbul Tram Company had been sold for 30 thousand Liras and Istanbul stayed without the tram nearly a year. After the first World War started, two years later, transportation stopped in Istanbul for eight months again.
In 1914, the horse-drawn tramways had to be stopped because of the shouting in the streets to warn the walkers to step back and give a way for the tram. Thus, the adventure of the tram ride lasted for 45 years and came to its end. In 1913, Turkey’s first power plant in Silahtarağa established by granting the first draft to the tram network in 1914 transition to electric trolley business. In 1933, with the direct order of Atatürk for the 10th anniversary celebrations of the Republic, the tram and bus started their trips in Istanbul (320 tram + 4 buses) were fully serviced. Tramway Plant was nationalized in 1939 and connected to the General Directorate of IETT Enterprises in accordance with the law numbered 3645. Electric trams that served on both sides of the city for fifty years on the grounds that they could not keep up with the ever-increasing speed of the city on the European side.
In 1961 the Anatolian side sadly said good-bye to the passengers and the Trolleybuses were activated instead.
İn 1989 after the restoration of some of the old wagon of the old tram in the museum, the electric tram came into service for nostalgic purposes as a symbolic line. It is located in the Istiklal Street which is the most suitable place for a symbol like that. With that said, the nostalgic tram began to operate on the Taksim-Tunel line like the old days. It is the current representative and live example of electric trams, transported 2,500 passengers a day on 1,870 meters line between Taksim and Tünel. Not only Istiklal Street and Turkey has become an icon. But also, the red-white old wagon became an important symbol for Taksim too.
Nostalgic Tram opening hours:
Workdays and Saturdays: 07:00 – 22:45
On Sundays: 07:30 – 22:45