Modernizing Gaziantep began with the coming of electricity and running water
in pipes, and sometime after that the extension of the railroad. Before all that had
happened, Gaziantep changed very slowly.
I was about seven or eight years old when electricity came. At the time I was
living at College Hill with my parents, Merrill and Mildred Isely. The coming of
Electricity did not effect us there because the College was being closed down and
was not wired. Before electricity came people mostly used kerosene lanterns and
a few pressure lanterns for more light. It was still very exciting for me because the
German engineer who came to install the electric plant visited us most Sundays and
he rode a very large motorcycle. Sometimes he took us children for rides on his
motorcycle. My father took me around to see many things.
The electric plant was built in its own large compound to allow room for the
storage of large piles of coal as well as the special ovens in which the coal was cooked
in order to make coal gas which was used to run the large engines. There
were too large engines the size of small houses in an even larger building of their
own. The engines were connected to generators. I was told that the reason there
were two was because the engines needed to be worked on often. One could be
shut down while the other made electricity. There was a railed platform around
the top of each engine where workers could stand when adjusting the valves which
were located on top.
The other aspect of providing electricity was the installation of many poles on
the streets to carry the wires around the city to the houses and buildings. While the
wires were being placed in the American Hospital I was allowed to watch the electrical
UST's putting wires in small pipes to protect them from being damaged. These pipes went
everywhere electricity was wanted
and, because they were added to existing buildings,
they were put on the surface of walls, not inside the walls.
There were small lengths of the pipes left over which I enjoyed playing with. At
first the electricity was used just for lights and perhaps just one radio. At the
hospital, electricity made it possible make it much more useful. My father took
out an x-ray machine from storage and set it up in the clinic for the doctors to use.
Other medical electrical appliances were acquired to help the doctors and nurses
give better care.
One of the big improvements was to convert two rooms in the hospital near the
kitchen, one to a refrigeration room and the other as a freezer room. This was a
boon not only for preserving food but some medicines that required refrigeration.
The city had built an ice plant as well and people could have refrigeration in their
homes which was much more reliable than the packed snow that had been used
previously. Ice was delivered regularly to the doctor's home for their icebox.
To celebrate the coming of electricity, the first New Years, lights were strung
on the windmill, as were lights in other places around the city. Lights were also
put on many of the electric poles in the streets to make it safer to go about town in
the dark. Electricity also began to be used for amusement. Movie projectors were
obtained and I remember attend going to a movie at the Halk Eve to see a movie
about Shubert the great composer. Later regular cinema houses came into being
and showed such things and serials of Buck Rogers and wild westerns.
Clean water in pressure pipes was no doubt equally important to the modernization
of Gaziantep. The evidence of construction was everywhere as the
streets were dug up, sometimes in trenches in the solid limestone. At that time
the pipes used were case iron, joined together with hemp caulking backed by the
pouring of liquid lead.
The old water system had been by means of a gravity fed aqueduct that started
from a large spring near Sarakya, west of the city. The aqueduct ran near the
surface of the ground past the Karakol at the Adana Road and then the Lisa.
When it go to the base of the first hill, the water was channeled into underground
tunnels cut into the solid limestone. There must have been a number of branches
to feed the whole town with one branch going under the Girl's School compound
and then on to the American Hospital. To get water, wells from the surface were
cut down to the tunnels and water was lifted by bucket. Between the two
compounds there were probably six such wells. One at the Girl's School compound
had a petrol engine for pumping water. One at the hospital had a windmill. Water
tanks located in the building attics provided storage for water.
My father told me that the new pipe system got its water from the same place
but because of being in pressure pipe could be run up and down hills. I think I
was also told that a storage reservoir was built at the castle hill. The hospital was
on such high ground that the new system did not provide much pressure and I
believe the old system was kept for some time. The windmill was moved to another
well and an electric pump was added to bring up more water.
To celebrate the coming of electricity, at the first New Year, lights were strung
about the city, and I particularly remember the lights on the hospital windmill
because they could be seen from the college compound where I was still living at
the time. We had an engine at the college that was used for grinding wheat and
we were able to put two light bulbs on our windmill, powered from the engine, to
join in the celebration.
The railroad came to Gaziantep some years later after World War II and I am
sure in those days, before the new roads, that it was as important as the electricity
and the water in pressure pipes for the modernization of Gaziantep. My parents
wrote to me about the railroad being built because at that time I had gone to the
United States to complete my education. I have many fond memories of riding on
the Orient Express, and had first thought that would run right through Gaziantep
but that was not the case. Perhaps when the railroads are revived in the future
a new connection will be built so that the Orient Express will go through Gaziantep.