Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Remarkable Vintage Pictures of Jewish Communities, Part 2
-- More Treasures from the University of California-Riverside Collection

Constantinople's Jewish Quarter, 1898
Street scene, Jewish Quarter of Constantinople, 1898 (Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California
Museum of Photography at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside)
We were certain we recognized this photo from a feature on the Library of Congress archives we posted two years ago.  We thought it was a quaint picture of a man and dog in the Jewish Quarter of Constantinople (Istanbul today).

But when we enlarged the photo, using the Keystone-Mast Collection's excellent "zoom" tools, we realized that there was much more than what met the eye.  The University of California photo, we discovered, was not identical to the Library of Congress picture.  The two were taken seconds apart, and there are differences. Moreover, upon examining the photos, we saw that almost a dozen residents of the street were watching what may have been a confrontation between the man and dog. (Rabies vaccinations in Constantinople began only in 1900.)

Look at the bottom left corner of the picture above, and you will see the back of a head and women standing in a doorway.  In the LoC photo you see that the head has turned; it's a young boy's face. From many other windows women are watching the street scene below.

A head and three women (UCR)
The boy's
face (LoC)

Woman in a window
Women looking from

A girl in the doorway, a woman at the window
Two figures watching from a distant window

A woman, possibly with children, appears to be
scurrying across the street (LoC)

Constantinople:  The name of the Turkish city was changed from Constantinople to Istanbul in the 1920s, which explains the location in the caption on this 1898 photo. 

The Jewish community in Turkey dates back millennia. Tens of thousands of Jews from Spain found refuge in Turkey in 1492.  The Ottoman Empire which ruled the Middle East for 400 years usually provided a safe haven for its Jewish residents, with occasional outbreaks of anti-Semitic episodes. 
Today, the Jewish community in Turkey numbers approximately 20,000, mostly in Istanbul.  The new Islamic policies of the current Turkish government may result in Jewish emigration, according to some observers.

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