neighborhood :: whereist istanbul

 |  CATEGORIES: Bosphorus, Istanbul Top 30 Tourist Attractions, Scenic & Park & Sightseeing, Tours, Whereist Driving Scenic Tour

Highlights of Çengelköy: Gherkins and MansionsFor Istanbul residents, free association with the word “gherkin” calls up the name Çengelköy, a village on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus.

Nestled in a nostalgic setting, overlooking the waters of the strait, Çengelköy lays claim to fame not only with her succulent gherkins, but also with her historical seaside mansions and tomatoes cultivated on stakes. Nonetheless, Çengelköy remains a village (köy) in name only.

Some fine spring day, chancing to find yourself in the nearby district center of Üsküdar, you may opt to rent a rowboat. Distancing yourself from the shore and delighting in the mild weather, you leisurely sail past, in turn, the villages of Pasha Limanı and Beylerbeyi. Your approach to Çengelköy will be signaled by a glimpse of the brick-red Sadullah Pasha Seaside mansion. On disembarking and inhaling the aroma of bread baking in wood-fired ovens, you may wonder whether you have landed in another world. Strolling the main avenue, you will pass by shops with small windows, stands of fresh fish, the historical bakery, wooden houses, many of whose doors open onto the avenue, seaside mansions from the pages of history, the local inhabitants, and, of course, greengrocers where pride of place is awarded to the “Çengelköy gherkins.”  One other place not to be overlooked is the savory pastry shop.

There are a couple of stories accounting for the uncertain origin of the name of the village. Though little information is available about its status in the 15th Century, it is known that Sultan Mehmed II, while preparing for his campaign to conquer İstanbul (1453), discovered a number of Byzantine palmed anchors in the neighborhood of the village, whose Turkish counterpart (derived from the Persian word for “claw”) is çengel. Thus, the village became known as the “Village of Anchors,” or Çengelköy.  Another story puts forward the claim that the village derived its name on account of its renown as a place where anchors were forged.

Regardless of the source of its name, Çengelköy possesses a justly earned reputation as one of the most charming villages on the Bosphorus. Çengelköy preserves its special distinction despite being incorporated, like the other quiet Bosphorus villages, by the greater metropolitan area of Istanbul.

The Bosphorus has been justly acclaimed for the beauty of her wooden seaside mansions. In the past, Çengelköy also possessed a bounty of such structures. A number of these historical witnesses have been sacrificed to fires.  The Sadullah Pasha seaside mansion, built in 1783, is one of the few to have survived to the present.  On its last legs, the Edip Effendi seaside mansion is one of those still awaiting restoration.

Friendly inhabitants, piping hot tea, and a fatal plane tree
Seaside mansions are not the only reflections of history, of course. The inhabitants of Çengelköy are also distinctive.  The hale and hearty local old-timers and veterans beam with friendly smiles.  What makes them stand out is that they still enjoy amicable relations with their neighbors. Nowadays, when those of us who make our homes in outsized apartment buildings have difficulty in even recognizing our next-door neighbors, the residents of Çengelköy are closely acquainted with each other.

When shopping in Çengelköy, you are always greeted by warm, friendly faces.  True, the tradesmen and local residents already know each other. Though you may be a newcomer, you are certain to be treated as one of them. That is why the population of Çengelköy doubles or even triples on weekends. Many folks come simply to partake of the tranquil, friendly atmosphere.

Tea gardens named “Under the Plane Tree” are ubiquitous and Çengelköy has one, too.  Some 500 years old, the plane tree is 15 meters tall and measures 6.6 meters in circumference and 1.92 meters in diameter. Its history includes one unfortunate incident, however, and it has thus received the epithet “The Killer.”  As the story goes, one day a dead branch fell from the top of the tree and caused the fatality of someone sitting in the tea garden. Nonetheless, the popularity of the tea garden remains high on weekends. In any case, the tree itself is becoming decrepit. One sizable limb extends horizontally about a dozen meters.  Extending a helping hand, the Üsküdar Municipality has provided it with iron props at one meter intervals. In view of its antiquity, the tree was designated one of Istanbul’s monumental trees and taken under protection. Çelik Gülersoy, the late president of the Turkey Touring and Automobile Club, included it in his listing of monumental trees.

Fishers and cats
What more could anyone wish for than to sit by the sea with their legs stretched out, in the shade of this tree aged half a millenary? The waiter will soon bring you a glass of full-bodied tea to complement the savory pastry with ground beef filling you have at hand. Inhaling the fresh sea air, you survey the scene of boats, one after the other, docking and launching at the diminutive pier in front of the tea garden. These are the fishermen who set out before the sun was up. But it would be an error to assume that all those going out to fish were men. For the fishers of the sea include women and even children. You will be amazed at the quantity of fish that is harvested.

If you are not a cat-lover, you may be somewhat discomfited sitting Under the Plane Tree, for numerous stray cats of all colors and sizes wander about the tea garden. It is not unheard of to take home a cat to your liking. Growing up in this setting, they are tame. The local residents are very fond of cats. Bowls of food and water for stray cats are set out in front of nearly every house here. Several pet shops also offer a variety of cats from which to choose.

For car aficionados
Çengelköy also boasts a car museum. Going up on Bosna Boulevard, you will come to the Automobile Museum of the Sabri Artam Foundation. The museum preserves a variety of vehicles, including antiques, race cars, custom-designed cars, and motorcycles. It also offers a maintenance and restoration service for aging cars. This represents the most comprehensive car museum in Turkey.  It is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Çengelköy, which formerly supplied the entire Üsküdar area with its famous staked tomatoes and whose fragrance wafted throughout Çengelköy, is today simultaneously nostalgic and modern. It seems small, but, as you will discover, it possesses a number of pleasant features. Summer and winter, it welcomes the visitor with the same warm reception: You will always be glad that you decided to pay a visit.

In Istanbul Issue 4
An article by: Hande Kızıltuğ

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 |  CATEGORIES: Food, Shopping

Sisli is a very well-known chi-chi neighborhood, and the shopping action takes place at Sisli-Ferikoy Bazaar Square. Every Saturday, Sisli’s socialites paw through piles of organic apples and arugula at this weekly bazaar that specializes in organic produce. In recognition of Istanbul’s growing middle class and its increasing attentiveness to what it eats, even the local Carrefour is starting to offer organic products.

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Hunkar Restaurant, which takes its name from the classic dish of creamy aubergine purée and lamb. Mim Kemal Oke Caddesi 21; 011-90-212-225-4665; entrees $11 to $15.

This Istanbul institution was founded in the neighborhood of Fatih in 1950. The Fatih location has since closed, but the restaurant’s loyal following ensured its survival in Nisantasi, with a second branch in Etiler. Istanbullus wax lyrical over the traditional Turkish and Ottoman cooking served here. Hünkar is famous for it’s begendili kebap and roast lamb. Their warm irmik helvasi (semolina dessert) is the model for all others. The Nisantasi location fills up with local professionals at lunchtime; the homey Etiler location has an outdoor trellised sidewalk cafe.

Mim Kemal Öke Sokak. No:21 Nişantaşı 0212 2254665

Nisbetiye cad. No:52 Etiler.0212 2874770-71

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 |  CATEGORIES: Bars & Drinks, Bosphorus, Food, Scenic & Park & Sightseeing

A beautiful coffee shop in Çengelköy: Çınaraltı Kahvesi is a special place where one can enjoy either tea or coffee while enjoying a breathtaking view of the Bosporus. Located in Üsküdar’s Çengelköy neighborhood, the coffee shop gets it name from the historical sycamore tree (Çınar in Turkish) it was built under. It opens at 7:00 a.m. and continues to serve customers until midnight. Çınaraltı Kahvesi was used as a setting for Turkish television shows “Süper Babe” and “Çınaraltı.”

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 |  CATEGORIES: Art & Cultural, Bosphorus, Istanbul Top 30 Tourist Attractions, Scenic & Park & Sightseeing, Whereist Driving Scenic Tour

Ortakoy Mosque in IstanbulOrtakoy is one of the nicest neighborhoods of Besiktas districts in the European side of Istanbul on the Bosphorus Strait, right under the first Bosphorus bridge. In Turkish it means “middle village” because it was in the middle of the strait, and during the Ottoman period it was just a small fishing village and a resort for the Ottoman dignitaries because of its attractive location. After many years, the district is still a popular spot for local people and foreign visitors.

Ortakoy has many cafeterias and tea houses around a square near the water or in the alleys, moderate or expensive restaurants, bars, small shops and a market which gets very lively during the weekends. In the summer time there are even small size concerts or street shows etc. Many world class night clubs are also in this area, on the Bosphorus.

Ortakoy center lies within a triangle of a Muslim mosque, a Christian church, and a Jewish synagogue, witnessing the religious freedom and mosaic in Turkey as a secular state. Other interesting sites within Ortakoy district are: Ciragan Palace hotel which used to be a palace, Kabatas High School from late Ottoman period, Feriye restaurant which used be the hunting mansion of the sultans, Princess Hotel, Sortie night club and Reina night club. A small pier is connecting Ortakoy to other neighborhoods on the Asian side by passenger ferries.


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 |  CATEGORIES: Cultural & Museums, Whereist Eminonu

Opened in November 2007 at Eminonu district, it’s located on Bankacilar Street of Hobyar neighborhood. The museum is housed in an old building of one of the oldest banks of Turkey, Is Bank, founded by Ataturk. There is a big collection of many documents, photos, films and objects collected since the foundation of the Is Bank, showing the economic and cultural heritage of Turkey and its recent history.

Open to the public between 10:00-18:00 except on Mondays, holidays, and 1st of January.
Tel: (212) 511 13 31

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 |  CATEGORIES: Scenic & Park & Sightseeing, Whereist Karaköy

Camondo stairs ,also known as Kamondo stairs, is a very special architectural public service project donated by the Camondos, a wealthy Istanbul Jewish family. Built in 1860 they are a special example of baroque and art nouveau styles.

These very special stairs have a hexagonal shape. It is said that this shape was arranged this way, so that if a child would slip while climbing down, the other bevel would prevent them from falling.

Photo by Niyazi Uğur Genca

Photo by Niyazi Uğur Genca

These stairs were built to facilitate the transport of Camondo’s children to reach school and to cut down Camondos way to the Banks Avenue , built by them as well.

The stairs climb the hill from the Galata docks and Bankalar Caddesi (Avenue of the Banks) up to the fashionable 19th-century neighborhoods where the Camondos built an imposing edifice to house a school.

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 |  CATEGORIES: Bosphorus, Scenic & Park & Sightseeing, Whereist Driving Scenic Tour

Rumeli Kavagi
The last ferry stop on the European shore of the Bosphorus is Rumeli Kavagi. A delightful little fisherman village with the ruins of a medieval castle and several fish restaurants, some of which have a spectacular view over the wild and rocky scenery of the last stretch of Bosphorus to the Black Sea, and looking across to the most substantial castle on the Asian shore above Anadolu Kavagi.

In its heyday a wall connected each castle to the quay, from which a mole projected into the channel on each side. Here the Byzantines collected tolls and customs dues from passing ships. In time of danger they could cut off all shipping with a chain linking the moles a formidable continuous line of defense from hilltop to hilltop.

Telli Baba Shrine is set on the very edge of the water. is the turbe of Telli Baba, a holly man whose turbe is one of the most popular shrines in the area, for Telli Baba is thought to be especially helpful to women who wish for a husband. The supplement leaves a strand of tinsel on the holy mans tomb, taking a second strand away with her. When the wish is granted she returns to give thanks and to leave the second strand of tinsel on the tomb.

Rumeli Kavagi: This neighborhood marks the last boat pier on the European side of the Bosphorus. On the rock of the lighthouse stands the Column of Pompeii which was part of an ancient shrine

Rumeli Kavagi, the last station on the European side, below a castle built by Murat IV in 1628. On a hill to the north are the ruins of the Byzantine Castle of Imroz Kalesi, the walls of which once reached right down to the sea and were continued by a mole, which could be linked by a chain with the mole and walls of Yoroz Kalesi on the Asiatic side. Visit the lighthouse in the neighborhood of Rumeli Kavagi. The Column of Pompeii, part of an ancient shrine, stands on the rock of the lighthouse.
In summer the boats usually go on (5minutes) to the resort of Altinkum (Golden Sand), with a restaurant on the plateau of an old fortification (view).
The tourist boats continue to the north end of the Bosporus (4.7km/3mi wide) and turn back when they reach the Black Sea. On both sides bare basalt cliffs rise almost vertically from the sea.

Evliya Celebi tells us that the quadrilateral castle at Rumeli Kavagi measured 300 metres across and that there were sixty houses for the soldiers of the garrison and a hundred cannon inside its walls. The castle facing it on the opposite shore at Anadolu Kavagi was also quadrilateral, measuring 240 metres across and with walls 20 m in height. It contained eighty houses to accommodate the garrison and one hundred cannon.
The French artillery engineer Francois Baron de Tott, who arrived in Turkey in 1755, supervised some additions to the castles on the Bosphorus, and in 1770 strengthened two of the castles on Canakkale Strait.
Today’s Rumeli Feneri (the Rumeli Lighthouse), situated at the point farthest north along the European side of the Bosphorus, was built in the 19th century, but there had been lighthouses in the same place during previous centuries. The Ali Macar Reis Atlas (16th century) gives the coordinates of a lighthouse on exactly the same spot. According to records from the 17th century, the top of Rumeli Feneri was reached by 110 stone steps, and eight “okka” (10264 grammes) of dolphin fat were burned there from dusk to dawn. In the 18th century, it was believed that if the oil lamp of the mystic Sary Saltyk went out, the lighthouse light would also be extinguished. Rumeli Feneri, a village on the promontory where the Bosphorus unwinds into the Black Sea, is a fishermen’s hamlet with a harbour hewn out of solid rock, dominated by the lighthouse.
This spot was known as Panium in ancient times. The great rocks offshore from Rumeli Feneri, known as the Kyanae or the Symplegadae, are celebrated in mythology.

When the Argonauts were seeking the Golden Fleece they let a wine-coloured (oinas) dove fly between these magic rocks that used to approach and strike one another with thunderous sound and then draw apart again. They followed the bird on its route, led by the goddess Athena. Drawing strength from the sound of the Thracian Orpheus’ lyre and chorusing songs that drowned out those of the sirens trying to lead them to their doom, they were able to reach the Black Sea. (According to myth, wine-coloured doves fed the infant Zeus in a Cretan Cave and offered him ambrosia, the elixir of immortality.) Certain mythographers claim that Triton, a sea-god rising from the depths of the Bosphorus, held the gigantic rocks apart as the Argo sailed through and that the Symplegadae never moved again. The boat Argo (Swift), bearing the name of its legendary builder, Argus, boasted mythological heroes as oarsmen, among them Hercules the Invincible. The Argo’s figurehead was a bough from Zeus’ Prophetic Oak. Antique sources and mythographers such as Apollonius, Apollodorus,

Valerius Placcus and Hygnius offer often contradicting information as far as the names and number of the Argonants are concerned.
With those who leave the Argo “en route” and yet others who join the expedition at various points, the list reaches impressive proportions. Among the most celebrated are Argus the Boat-builder, Asclepius the Healer, Atalanta the Huntress, Glaucus the Fisherman, Phineus the Soothsayer, Orpheus the Minstrel and Tiphys the Helmsman. The “Argonautica” of Apollonius of Rhodes (Apollonius Rhodius, 3rd century BC) and the “Bibliotheca” of Apollodorus (2nd century BC) relate the myth of the Golden Fleece in detail. Jason, the Captain of the Argonauts, was the grandson of Cretheus, the son of Aeson (King of Iolcus) and student of the Learned Centaur Chiron. Living in the Thessalian woodlands, Chiron was skilled in the art of medicine, and it is written that he gave the Prince of Iolcus his name, Jason (“Healer”).

The Golden Fleece, hidden in the Sacred Wood of Ares in the Kingdom of Colchis, somewhere along the shore of the Black Sea, had come from a flying ram sacrificed to Zeus. Born of Poseidon the Sea God and Theophane the Thracian, the ram had been sent by the goddess Hera and brought over by Hermes, Messenger of the Gods. Its pure gold fleece was guarded by Phrixus, son of Athamas (King of Boetia) and of Nephele (Goddess of the Clouds). With the assistance of Phineus the Soothsayer and Medea, High Priestess of the Temple of Hecate, the Argonauts reach Colchis and bring home the Golden Fleece. Classical mythology relates that Helle, Princess of Boeotia, fell into the deep waters of the gulf separating the bulks of Europe and Asia while riding the flying Golden Ram, thus giving the strait its name, the Hellespont (Helle’s Sea). Today it is known as the Dardanelles. The Temple of Apollo that stood on top of the rock near Rumeli Feneri is mentioned in the legends. It is also said that Apollo would transform himself into a dolphin and guide Tiphys the Helmsman.

In Byzantine times, a high column named the Pompeius Column was erected on this rock to prevent shipwrecks. The Ottomans gave the name Mavi Kayalar (the Blue Rocks), A?layan Kayalar (the Weeping Rocks) or Kanly Kayalar (the Bloody Rocks) to these great stones protruding from the sea. Later, they came to be known as Kocata? (the Great Stone) and Körta? (the Blind Stone).
* Prof. Dr. Jak Deleon is a lecturer at Bo?aziçi University

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 |  CATEGORIES: Historical Landmark, Whereist Karaköy


The Nusretiye Mosque was erected between 1823 and 1826 by Mahmud II (1784-1839) as part of a larger project to rebuild the Tophane artillery barracks that burnt in the Firuzaga fire. It is located off the Western shore of the Bosphorus, below Tophane or the Canon Foundry established by Mehmed II (1432-1481) and was built on the former site of the Mosque of the Artillery Barracks (Tophane-i Amire Arabacilar Kislasi Camii) built by Selim III (1789-1807). In style, the mosque signifies a transition from Ottoman baroque to empire style. Its architect is Krikor Balyan (1764-1831), who is the first in nine architects belonging to the Armenian Balyan family who served the royal family throughout the nineteenth century. The mosque was named Nusretiye or Victory, in celebration of the sultan’s recent abolition of the rebellious janissary troops in favor of a new western-style army — an event known in Ottoman history as Vaka-i Hayriye or the auspicious event.

When it was built, the Nusretiye mosque stood to the northeast of a rectangular parade ground facing the Bosphorus with the Meclis-i Mebusan or Parliament Street at its back. The artillery barracks, built by Mahmud II at the same time as the mosque, bound the southwest side of the parade ground. His successor, Abdülmecid I (1839-1861), added a clock tower (Tophane saat kulesi) at the center of the grounds and built the royal Tophane kiosk (Tophane Kasri) at the street end of the longitudinal axis. In 1866, the neo-classical strip housing the offices of the marshals was built on the other side of Meclis-i Mebusan Street from the Tophane kiosk and the fenced parade ground, completing the monumental appearance of the military complex seen in older photographs. Only the mosque, the clock tower and the Tophane kiosk have survived the mid 1950s urban renewal and highway construction programs. The parade ground was developed into a trade entrepôt with concrete warehouses extending into newly infilled grounds behind the mosque. The mosque stands today on Necati Bey Street, having lost its historical context and connection with the water. It was restored between 1955 and 1958, and again in 1980 and 1992.

The mosque stands raised on a tall basement, oriented along the northwest-southeast axis. It consists of a square prayer hall with narthex and mihrab apse, and a large sultan’s kiosk, which wraps the west and north corners at the front, on either side of the tall portico. Side arcades made of five domed bays flank the prayer hall on the exterior. Although the mosque lacks a monumental courtyard, a prominent feature in classical Ottoman mosques, it has a small side courtyard that adjoins the prayer hall to the northeast. The side arcade on this side is a few steps below the courtyard whereas to the southwest the arcade has two-stories and has a door at the lower colonnade that leads down to the basement level.

The mosque portal is located at the center of the three-bay portico, a monumental baroque entrance with two staircases leading up to its terrace. The staircases are framed on either side by the projecting bays of the sultan’s kiosk, which is raised to the height of the portico domes carried on arches and columns, forming open terraces below. The residential-looking sultan’s kiosk dominates the front façade of the mosque and zigzags around the corners where the minarets are attached to form wings projecting outwards into the parade ground and the side courtyard. It is entered primarily from a baroque portal adjoining the side arcade on the southwest façade; there are secondary entrances on either side of the portico.

Inside, the prayer hall is crowned with a single dome, raised on four grand arches that spring from the four corners. The narthex to the northwest has women’s prayer section flanking the entrance and the muezzin’s platform at the gallery level. The grand arch above the narthex is carried on two piers and three arches, the larger central arch mirrors the arch of the mihrab semi-dome across the hall. Along the southwest wall, to the right, is the sultan’s lodge — a balcony with gilt screens entered from the sultan’s kiosk. Windows pierced into the tympana of the grand arches and twenty windows around the dome illuminate the interior from above. Of the two tiers of windows at the ground level, the lower casements are crowned with baroque vases carved in the marble tympana of the window arches. All of the upper windows have faux frames painted in the baroque style. The mihrab and minbar are carved of white marble and decorated with flowers and gilt garlands. Perhaps the most important decorative element on the interior is a calligraphic band inscribed with the Koranic sura of The Event or Al-Naba, which travels the interior located above the casement windows. It is written in gold celi style letters over a dark background by the famous calligrapher Mustafa Rakim (1757-1826).

The mosque has two minarets located at the west and east corners. Raised on tall square foundations, the fluted minaret shafts have bulbous bases and double balconies with wavy balustrades. In order to create a view for passing ships to read the string of lights with devotional messages (mahya) hung between the two minarets without being obstructed by the dome, the minarets were taken down and rebuilt taller in 1826. The superstructure, including the dome, is marked with exuberant architectural decorations. Curved pilasters with finials alternate with the dome windows and large bulbous weight turrets with pointed domes that are placed at the springing of the grand arches, which are bordered with lace-like cornices. The mosque is constructed primarily of cut stone.

To the northeast, the entrance to the small side courtyard is flanked by twin structures of the sabil (sebil), on the right, and the room of the timekeeper (muvakkithane), on the left. Positioned originally across the street, they were moved adjacent to the mosque during the rule of Abdülaziz I (1861-1879). They are round with arched grille windows facing the street and are crowned by conical domes with wavy eaves mirrored by wavy marble cornices with inscriptive plaques. A fountain kiosk erected beside the mosque by Abdülhamid II in 1901 has been moved to Maçka neighborhood as part of the urban renewal program

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 |  CATEGORIES: Scenic & Park & Sightseeing, Whereist Beyoglu

Fransız Sokağı – French Street

If New York has Chinatown and Little Italy, then Istanbul has “French Street” (Fransız Sokağı). “Rue Française”, with tented buildings, street musicians, cafés, bars and art centers, opened in summer of 2004.

The street behind Galatasaray High School known as Cezayir (Algeria) Street was completely renovated from head to toe by a group lead by Mehmet Taşdiken within the scope of a two-year project. The buildings and sidewalks were improved and a special music system was established. Taşdiken had close contacts with the Municipality of Paris, so the stones of the street were arranged by Parisian architects, and 100-year-old coal-gas street lamps from the Municipality of Paris were installed.

Mehmet Taşdiken says “the French have a very important legacy in Beyoğlu. Most of the establishments of Beyoğlu, such as the first cafés and first movie theaters, were established by the French in the 19th century and the buildings on the left of Cezayir Street bear the signature of French engineer-contractor Marius Michel, who lived in Istanbul between 1890 and 1910 and built the Karaköy and Eminönü docks.”

Fransız Sokağı has a covered area of 9,000 square meters and a capacity of 3000 people together with the open-air areas. The number of daily visitors is around 6.500. The heaters on the streets allow the open areas to be used even on cold days.

Various establishments in two-three story buildings have turned Fransız Sokağı, formerly Cezayir Sokak or Hayriye Çıkmazı, into a 7-day-a-week live culture and entertainment center, with cafés, restaurants, street concerts and artists, and an art gallery.

Neighborhood: Istanbul’s Beyoglu (Bay-oh-loo) & French Street

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