Residents of Istanbul Neighborhood Take A Colorful Stand


These Turkish stairs are ground zero for a color war of sorts. (Photo: Sebnem Arsu/New York Times)

We're looking for the name of a historic neighborhood in Istanbul for our Geo Quiz.

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It's right near Taksim Square, the scene of violent demonstrations a few months back. Young and liberal Turks took to the streets to protest the autocratic tendencies of Turkey's ruling party.

This nearby neighborhood is in the news again. A 62-year-old retiree named Huseyin Centinel was inspired to freshen up a drab set of stairs. He spent 4 days and $800 of his own money to paint the stairs lime green and sky blue, to splash some bright colors on just "to make people smile."

The rainbow steps were quite a hit until city workers came along and re-painted them the original drab gray.

Speaking to television reporters, Cetinel defended his paint job. He said that all of nature, including cats, birds, flowers, and mountains, is brightly colored.

"Where does this gray come from?" he asked. "Did we have another Pompeii and got flooded with ash?"

Residents also protested on social media, calling it a demonstration of a government bent on controlling public spaces and private lives. Many turned out in solidarity with paintbrushes in hand to re-paint the rainbow stairway.

Journalists Sebnem Arsu writes about the Burst of Color in the New York Times.

The public stairway that's prompted a colorful protest is in the Istanbul neighborhood of Beyoglu.