Households and Dwellings

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The simple comparison of the number of houses and of households (149 and 242, respectively) clearly tells us that more than half of the houses in our neighborhood must have contained at least two households. There must have been approximately 150 households in the mahalle that had to share the same dwelling-unit with another family. Although shareholding of the same dwelling-unit by kin or non-kin households was certainly not uncommon at the time, a nonnegligible proportion of these coresiding households must clearly have been tenants. This must have been particularly the case for migrants to the mahalle. Each household, therefore, did not necessarily correspond to a houseful of people. Each house contained on average more than one household, more than one family-unit. The average household size was 3.82 in Kasap ƒlyas in 1885. Had each of the households lived in a separate house, this same figure would have also represented the average number of people living in each of the dwelling-units of the mahalle. Dividing the total population by the number of dwelling-units in the neighborhood, however, we obtain a much larger figure: 5.53. This is the average number of people living in each of the Kasap ƒlyas houses, a figure that is 45 percent higher than the mean size of familial units. The corresponding figure is even considerably higher (6.32) for the Ispanakçı Viranesi, the area with the highest concentration of migrants. Most of the run-down houses in the Virane were inhabited by more than one household, and some of them, as we saw, accommodated four or five of them.
Do these raw figures, however, constitute sufficient evidence for speaking of a wohnungsprobleme in the Kasap ƒlyas mahalle at the end of the nineteenth century? Are we entitled to say that Kasap ƒlyas was, generally speaking,
“overcrowded”? That is difficult to assert. We know that some of the migrants, especially the bachelors, were, in all probability, living in small, cramped, shoddy, overcrowded, and relatively uncomfortable lodgings, but it is difficult to say more. First of all, a comparative housing standard for the whole city
does not exist, nor are any comparable data sets for other parts of the city available, and it is highly doubtful whether such a standard could be devised at all. Second, and in the absence of any detailed cadastral maps, we do not have detailed information on the property and houses in Kasap ƒlyas itself.
For instance, we know little about how many floors each of these houses in Kasap ƒlyas had. We have an insufficient knowledge of the number, type, and size of their rooms and of the various amenities that they might have contained, the size of the gardens, if any, and so forth.

Judging from the wealth, social status, and occupations of its inhabitants,what we can only dimly guess is that, despite the few konaks (mansions) that

it contained, the Kasap ƒlyas houses were in general neither particularly large nor comfortable, in relation to the standards of the time. Here is how, for instance, a mansion sold in the neighborhood in the 1840s is described in the Davudpaœa Religious Court records :
…A privately owned konak with, in the upper floor three rooms, a water-closet, a pantry and a hall, in the middle floor three rooms, a bathroom and water-closet and a hall, in the lower floor a kitchen,
a toilet and a storage place for coal plus, in the men’s quarters (selâmlık), a room, a bathroom and water-closet in the top floor, a room and a bathroom and water-closet in the middle-floor, plus stables, a water-well, a garden and garden gates….”21
There were, however, all in all just four such konaks in the neighborhood in 1885 (see table 4.7). Here is how one of the more modest houses of Kasap ƒlyas was described in a deed of sale recorded by the Davudpaœa Court of Justice in the 1850s. Part of the ground floor of this house was apparently occupied by a barbershop : “…on the upper floor two rooms and a hall, and on the ground floor two rooms, a bathroom, and a barber with a shop….”22
This was the lot of most of the ordinary houses in Kasap ƒlyas. A few deeds of sale of the early nineteenth century also record even smaller dwellings that contained, for instance, just “…a room in the ground floor, a hall, a court-yard, a kitchen and a garden….”
Besides, a number of people lived in various kinds of premises (a coffee-house, a shop, a stables, or a warehouse) that were not designed to be proper houses and that probably lacked the minimum level of comfort and privacy that even those who lived in the Ispanakçı Viranesi were entitled to. According to the later population census of 1907, these people were more numerous

than in 1885. In 1907 twelve people were recorded as residing in shops (dükkâns) and eight others in coffeehouses (kahvehanes). Twenty other people (mostly Arapkirli bachelors) were living in six different warehouses (ma™azas).23
During the 1885 census a complete listing was made by Osman Efendi of all private property and buildings in the mahalle (see table 4.7). Every single item that was given a street number was put down in this list, whether built or unbuilt, whether public, private, or belonging to a foundation, whether
inhabited or not.24
It appears that houses (hanes) and mansions were not the only type of premises used as dwelling units in Kasap ƒlyas. Two people (single men), for instance, were living in a—probably rented—room and another in a coffee-house. Three people (husband, wife, and son) had their permanent residence
in one of the warehouses situated on Helvacı Street. Three of the houses located near the mosque were vakıf houses that had been bequeathed to local pious foundations so that they be used (either as a residence or to obtain rental income) by the imam or by the müezzin of the Kasap ƒlyas mosque. In
one of them, that at 11 Yokuœçeœme Street, lived, together with his wife and mother-in-law, Ahmet Necati efendi, the imam. As to Ahmet efendi, the müezzin, he lived in the house situated at 52 Samatya Street with his wife and infant daughter.
In 1885, at 8 Cami-i ¥erif Street, that is, just behind the Kasap ƒlyas mosque Osman Efendi (1837–1904), the muhtar of Kasap ƒlyas lived with his family. Born in Istanbul, Osman efendi had been officiating as a local head-man for a few years already at the time of the census (see the appendix).25 His household consisted of five people besides himself: his wife, who was 40, his three children, a boy of 10 and two girls of ages 7 and 4, plus a female servant. Osman efendi and his wife Fatma ¥öhret hanım had no other living children. In 1895 Osman was born, their first grandchild. The house in
which they lived was theirs. It was officially registered as property of Fatma ¥öhret hanım, and the family shared it with no other household. Osman efendi was a haberdasher (astarcı) by profession. There was at the time, however, no haberdasher’s shop within the Kasap ƒlyas mahalle and Osman
efendi’s workplace must have been situated in one of the commercial areas of the city, perhaps in the central Grand Bazaar. Osman efendi had a very long tenure as muhtar and took his official duties very seriously, as we have had occasion to see.
Our mahalle contained two tekkes (dervish convents). The first was located at 53 Samatya Street (formerly “Butchers’ Road”) and the second at 19 Yokuœçeœme Street, on the left-hand side when climbing toward Cerrahpaœa.
The first of these dervish lodges was called Gümüœ Baba (or Taœçı tekkesi) and the second Bekâr bey (or Kâmil Efendi).26 They belonged, respectively, to the Kadirî and to the Rufaî sufi orders. The officiating œeyhs of these two lodges and their families lived in houses adjacent to their respective tekkes.
For instance, Ihsan Efendi, the œeyh of the Bekâr bey Rufai lodge, was himself a middle-ranking bureaucrat in the Ministry of Finance (maliye ketebesinden) and his household consisted of four people: his brother, his sister, a person officially put down as a dervish, and himself. As to ƒbrahim efendi bin Sadullah, œeyh of the Kadirî lodge, he lived in the tekke with a familial group consisting
of seven people, kin, and servants. The point is that neither of these two tekkes were large and religiously or culturally important institutions. Weekly sufi zikir ceremonies did take place in both of them (on Saturdays in Bekâr bey and on Tuesdays in Gümüœ baba) but neither of these tekkes can be
considered as a principal lodge (asitane) or as an important center of attraction, from a religious or a cultural point of view, and none could ever have housed a large number of resident dervishes. They were not very old and venerable institutions either, since they had both been established toward the
end of the eighteenth century at the earliest, and more probably at the beginning of the nineteenth century.27
The Kasap ƒlyas mahalle contained none of the other large and collective households that existed in many other areas of the capital-city of the Ottoman Empire. There was no medrese within the neighborhood, for instance. Kasap ƒlyas was quite a distance away from the Fatih mosque and from its conglomerate of religious schools. The nearest medrese was a rather smallish institution, the Gevherhan Sultan medrese, situated in the neighboring Cerrahpaœa District and which, in the middle of the century housed only two teachers and twenty-seven students.28 There were no bekârodalarıs (rooms for single men in which migrant bachelors were usually housed) in the neighborhood either. Why would there be one, anyway, in this neighborhood that was not situated anywhere near the commercial heart of the city? According to the 1885 listing of premises (see table 4.7) there were four dwellings qualified as odas within the neighborhood, and only two people were recorded as effectively residing in them. Besides, not being a central mahalle, there never had been in Kasap ƒlyas any of the hans or bedestens in which artisans or tradesmen exercised their profession together.
An interesting house in the mahalle was the one situated at 11 Yokuœçeœme Street. This house that belonged to the local vakıf was officially the residence of Necati efendi, the imam of the Kasap ƒlyas mosque, and of his family. But the same building also functioned as a primary school for girls. This school was known in Istanbul as the ¥erif Paœa school for girls (¥erif Paœa mekteb-i inası).29
For all practical purposes this meant that, in this two-story small wooden Kasap ƒlyas house, Necati efendi more or less regularly welcomed a small number of young female pupils living in the mahalle. The locals certainly must not have hesitated in entrusting their young daughters to the hands of the imam of the local mosque. To these pupils Necati efendi taught some lementary skills such as reading, writing, deciphering the Holy Coran and, perhaps, the first rudiments of arithmetic. The parents of the pupils were then adding a small contribution to Necati efendi’s livelihood. The school’s curriculum as well as its teaching methods followed “traditional” norms, and were apparently not affected by the modernizing thrust of the educational reforms of the Tanzimat period. A 1894–1895 official statistical publication clearly records the fact that teaching in this small school was not done according to the new methods (usûl-i cedid), but followed the ancient patterns (usûl-i kadîm) and mentions that a total of 20 pupils (18 girls and 2 boys) were attending.30


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