|URSAB MAGAZINE, March 2006... / In the last days of the past month, the news on TV and radio have been continuously warning the inhabitants of Istanbul against the coming snowstorm. The reports about snow were posted to the web addresses of the Meteorology Directorate. In fact, it snowed without stop for 4 and 5 days in Istanbul starting from the reported date. People had again difficulties, illnesses occurred but Istanbul never shivered with cold as much as in winter 1954.
Our elders know very well this winter happened fifthy two years ago. And what has been talking those days was about “the freezing of the Bosphorus”. Up to now, no source tells about a frozen sea in the world history. This happens at the end of February 1954. The Bosphorus is filled up with ice fields broken down by the bombs exploded in order to restart the traffic on the rivers which stops because the rivers flowing into the Black Sea and Danube are frozen in 1954. Because of the ices on the river pushed to the sea and the current in the Black Sea, the ice fields up to 15-20 m. wide arrive to the Bosphorus.
The newspapers dated February 1954 report that the city faces a freezing cold, there is need for coal and wood and some bakeries are short of flour to bake breads. The first news about this heaviest winter in Istanbul is reported by the newspaper “Istanbul Ekspres”. The newspaper dated February 23 publishes a photo showing a child flying a kite one day ago and pointing out the variability of the weather states the folowing:”The sky darkened again. The city is covered again in white at these hours”; the newspaper emphasizes that the the weather seemed as though it was spring one day ago. The same newspaper reports that the snowstorm which started one day ago still continues and the maritime line traffic stops because of the snowstorm. And the situation of the city is described as follows:”The snowstorm paralysed the daily life in Istanbul; meanwhile the urban transportation halts since it takes a long time to chain the tyres of the buses and some drivers intending to make profit increased the prices of dolmuş (taxi which only starts when it’s filled up with passengers).” The newspaper emphasizes the difficulties faced under the heavy snow without being aware of the ices which will fill up the Bosphorus. The ices which will cover the Bosphorus are first reported as follows:”Because of the inclement weather, the Black Sea is covered by ices. Some of them arrived around İğneadasi” and after this news, Istanbul feels a historical shock. At the evening hours on February 24, the ice drifts arrive to the Bosphorus. The same night at 10.00 p.m., the ice drifts fill up the Tarabya Bay. At midnight, the ices pass through Kanlica and Anadolu Hisari and head to Kandilli.” The newspaper adds the following:”Although the ice drifts are small, much bigger masses will come and the sea transportation will completely stop.” And in fact, huge ice fields enter the Bosphorus the next day.
The newspaper “Gece Postasi” dated February 25, 1954 reports that the ices broke down three small boats and the number of victims on the Bosphorus is not known yet. The same dated newspaper “Akşam” reports that dead bodies are seen among the ices. It’s also reported that the crew of a ship squeezed among the ices threw themselves down on the ices and they managed to arrive to the shore. On the other hand, some funny details are noticed in some news: “Thousands of people curious to see this extraordinary event rush to the Bosphorus shores to watch this unbelievable landscape and people shivering with cold crowding mainly Sarayburnu watched this ice sea which presents a much more wild beauty here.”
On February 28, the Bosphorus is completely filled up and the passage from the Anatolian side to the European side in Istanbul is possible. The newspaper “Akşam” dated February 26 describes this situation as follows:”We observed that this morning, the Bόyόkdere Bay, the Sariyer Quay and Bay, the front part of Ortakφy and the shores of Kanlica and Ηengelkφy are filled up with ice fields. Since the walk on foot between Poyrazkφy and Rumelikavaği in Beykoz is possible, people go to wander there and many of them try to pass to the other side. But the Governor and the Mayor find dangerous the passage at this point and police officers on guard are placed on both sides. Thus, the passage on the ices at the Bosphorus will not be permitted.”
On the other hand, the newspaper “Gece Postasi” of the same day reports a news like anecdote which is rarely heard in the world: ”The urban people enjoy the ice fields and they wander on the ices. Meanwhile some events happened. Three young people named Halit Ince, Semih Koruman and Ahmet Saim were carried away while moving ahead on the ices and they were rescued off άskόdar before passing the Bosphorus. The walk on ice is banned.” Another news makes one laugh with its style:”Five cats belonging to the Panama cargo ship broken down off Rumeli Lighthouse after hitting the rocks miauwed to ask for help on the ices and they were rescued and carried to the animal hospital.”
While these events happen at the Bosphorus, the terrible winter continues and the road Istanbul-Adana is closed to the traffic, the Sakarya River overflows and the snow height in Istanbul ups to 2 m.
The newspaper “Gece Postasi” dated February 27 reports that ice mountains are seen off İğneada and if the weather doesn’t become mild, they will arrive to the Bosphorus in one day. This terrible cold weather and ice fields never seen before in the history of Istanbul chained up finally with each other at the narrow points at the Bosphorus and the water current on the surface of the Bosphorus stopped. Following this natural event paralysing Istanbul, the military exploded water bombs and thus ths water current started again at the Bosphorus.
On the other hand, the declaration dated February 27 released by the Coastal Security Operation Directorate is really frightening. It states the following:”The Şile Bay is entirely covered by ices. The huge ice mountains off Şile head to the Black Sea Straits.”
Another natural event as a result of the freezing cold and the ices shocks people. The news of “Gece Postasi” states the following:”The space of 1000 sqm from the front part of Belvό Hotel in Kadikφy til the artificial harbour lighthouse is frozen and the boats are nailed there. This event happens for the first time in the world since the sea is frozen.” This is really an unbelievable event.
The next day, it’s reported that the wind changed direction and the ices move rather to the shores of Şile and this fact lightens the Bosphorus. After that the ices quit the Bosphorus and it stops snowing, such news cover much lesser place in the newspapers. After the flow of ices, on the first Sunday when a mild weather is felt, the inhabitants of Istanbul rush to the Bosphorus. “Gece Postasi” reports the news as follows:”The inhabitanst of Istanbul watch the flow of ices covering the Bosphorus at various points and they take photos together with their families. Some tricksters trying to take advantage of this event took possession of some ice fields and they ask for money from people taking photos there.”
The Bosphorus lightened due to the nice weather and the change in the wind direction is again invaded by the ices some days after. The maritime transportation is halted. The newspaper “Istanbul Ekspres” dated March 2, based on the wireless communication of a ship with Roumanian flag, reports that much bigger ice fields arrive towards the Bosphorus.
Much fewer news showing the difficulties in winter 1954 appear in the newspapers. We don’t know whether it’s because less ices are seen or the news loses its significance but the last news is reported by the newspaper “Akşam” dated March 5. “The space between Bόyόkdere and Kavaklar on the Rumeli and Anatolian shores of the Bosphorus is entirely covered by ice.”
Following the freezing cold, snowstorm, storm and heavy snow lasting 10 – 15 days, the Bosphorus is frozen and Istanbul covered in white looks like the North European countries. Compared to the actual cold weathers, the winter 1954 looks much more like the Siberian winter.
Cemalettin Bildik writes the following about the ices blocking the Bosphorus in the newspaper “Akşam” dated February 28, 1954;
“After 1929, the ice fields arriving from the Danube and other rivers obstructed once again the Black Sea Straits and one can go on foot from the Garipler Village on the Rumeli side to the Poyraz Village on the Anatolian side.”
This is the most important event of the winter 1954. It’s even much more important that the shortage of coal and wood and the price of leek jumped to 75 kuruş (piaster) and the price of spinach jumped to 140 kuruş.
No matter how quick is the governor in uniting both sides of the Bosphours, the heavy winter managed to make people walk on the Bosphorus and thus, the real problem of food has been forgotten. Not only the private cars but also low-income people coming by bus or dolmuş crowded the Bosphorus to contemplate the ice fields.
Yesterday me too, I went to Yenimahalle to see people who contemplate the ice fields. The trip to the Bosphorus in heavy winter recalls the trips made in spring and summer but there is a big difference... Where are ladies in their sleeveless dresses making promenade on the shore... Ladies with shorts... Where are those jumping into the sea from the shores... We meet some familiar faces but they wear now warm clothes and overcoats.
While contemplating this landscape, I don’t know why but the Moda Bay comes to my mind. The voice of the master Mόnir Nurettin Selηuk rings in my ears.”Aheste ηek kόrekleri, mehtap uyanmasın” (Row slowly, so that the moon doesn’t wake up)... Which moon, master?...Let’s come and look at this state of the Bosphorus and imagine the Moda Bay. Even if the boatman rows slowly, where can he go among these ice fields... Let alone the rowboat, the ship doesn’t sail.” >>