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Commercial development and morphological change in Mersin from the late nineteenth century to the mid-twenties: modernization of a mercantile port of exchange in the Eastern Mediterranean

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This study aims to explore the distinctive characteristics of commercial development and its effect on the shaping of the urban form in rapidly developing port cities with a special emphasis on Mersin, which had been an emerging city in the Eastern Mediterranean from the nineteenth century to the first half of the twentieth century. This paper questions the relations between commercial development and morphological change in terms of the functional and spatial patterns that emerged as a result of commercial activity, and the motivating force behind them. The port city is conceived as a spatial expression of core–periphery relations, in which they serve as an essential intermediate stop from where commodities are transferred to and from the agrarian periphery and the industrial core. The findings of the study revealed that the commercial development of Mersin between the late nineteenth century and mid-twentieth century was in the form of sui-generis development as a mercantile port of exchange in the Eastern Mediterranean. The commercial development, which came into being in a gradual and piecemeal manner rather than depending on planned and coordinated large-scale redevelopments, revealed itself spatially through land-use differentiation and specialized commercial environments. The notable tradesmen at the very top of the hierarchical structure positioned themselves at the very centre of the process by organizing a network of distribution and credit.
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Keywords: Eastern Mediterranean; Mersin; commercial development; modernization; morphological change; port city

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of City and Regional Planning,Mersin University, Mersin, Turkey

Publication date: 2012-01-01

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