"If you leave a city at the mercy of speculators, it will die."
Those are the chilling words of a Turkish activist talking with The Guardian about the future of Istanbul, where 50 neighborhoods have been earmarked for redevelopment and 7.5 billion Turkish liras ($4.2 billion) has been set aside for real estate projects in 2012. Much of the history in those neighborhoods is in danger of being erased. In Tarlabaşı--an immigrant neighborhood, first Greek, then Kurdish, and now North African--up to 278 buildings may be demolished.
It's a classic case of people vs. profits. The Turkish Contractor's Association estimates that the construction work set for Istanbul will produce $87 billion in profit -- but the cost in people's lives and the rending of the historic fabric of the city of the Sultans far outweighs that.