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[1914 book] Account of Westernization Before Ataturk
[1914 book] Account of Westernization Before Ataturk
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the first "President" of Turkey (1923-1938), is often credited with the westernization and modernization of Turkey. This account documents that Constantinople/Istanbul was largely already westernized beforehand.

From American author Karl K. Kitchen's 1914 book The Night Side of Europe As Seen by a Broadwayite Abroad:

If you expect to find the flavor of the "Arabian Nights" in this story you will be disappointed. Constantinople in the year of 1914 A. D. is more like Bagdad on the subway (to use one of O. Henry's favorite expressions) than the ancient city of Haroun-al-Raschid. It is a Turkish trophy of foreigners.

New York has been called the City of Ten Thousand Grafts. Constantinople should be called the City of Ten Million. A Broadwayite who is in the habit of being brushed from all his loose change, cheated by taximeters, overcharged by restaurant proprietors, robbed by the ticket speculators and treated with insolence by waiters feels perfectly at home in this wonderful capital. It gives him an idea what New York will be like in another ten years. For Constantinople is less Turkish than New York is American. It is not the Turk who overcharges, cheats, and robs you. The five francs you pay to enter the city goes to a French company which has the concession (and you have to pay the same amount to leave). The motor buses and cabs are also French owned. The electric street cars, which have only been running a few months, are a Belgian concession. The electric light and telephone companies are German. The best hotels are English and the restaurants are Greek.

Constantinople has a subway, too. It is less than two miles long, but the fare is the same as it is in New York. Its street cars run faster and kill more people per mile than the street cars of any city in the world. There are no speed regulations for automobiles you can drive on the wrong side of the street at fifty miles an hour nearly everybody does. The big motor omnibuses run at top speed with their mufflers open despite the fact that the streets are more crowded than the entrance to Brooklyn Bridge at six o'clock. And as for noise Sixth Avenue and Thirty-fourth Street is as quiet as the Polo Grounds in winter compared with the Rue de la Pera in rush hours.

Changes have come rapidly in the capital of Turkey in the last few months. Its dogs have all been killed. It is no longer a city of mosques, minarets, and the Faithful. The mosques and minarets are still on view, but the Faithful are drinking mastic and eating ham. I visited half a dozen mosques on a Friday (the Mohammedan Sunday) only to find them deserted except for the priests. It reminded me of many of our churches at home. Drinking is the king of indoor sports. Cafes are as numerous as saloons on Tenth Avenue, and it is as hard to get a cup of coffee as it is to get a glass of water in a German restaurant. Mastic, a colorless spirit like vodka, is the drink. Next in popularity is beer native brewed. A Turk with a cup of coffee and a water pipe or nargileh exists only in the imagination of artists at least in Constantinople.

Only in the Turkish women is the Constantinople of former days preserved. They do wear veils. However, they do not wear harem skirts. They dress in black like American women in mourning, and the men who accompany them are dressed exactly like New Yorkers, except for the fez. In fact, except for the fez, which one sees on every side, the Rue de la Pera, principal street in Constantinople, is very much like Broadway between Twenty-third and Forty-second streets.

Kitchen, K. K. (1914). Constantinople. In The night side of Europe as seen by a broadwayite abroad (pp. 143-146). Cleveland: The David Gibson Company.
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