Cibali region has started to develop after the conquest of Istanbul by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453. There were two factors combining Cibali region with the identity of Istanbul. First of them was fires, although it seems a little strange, as there were many fires in this region while the second was the tobacco factory and tobacco warehouse carrying the same name as the region. There were fires happening frequently as mentioned since Cibali was a trade center and there were many flammable materials used in shipbuilding works at that location. Fires in the interior and surrounding regions of city walls at Haliç were becoming very serious threats especially during winds from the northeast direction since there were a lot of wooden houses in that region at that time. Many disasters of fire have been called “Cibali fires”. Cibali Tobacco Factory which was established in 1884 was a very important institution changing the region both in economical and social aspects. Starting its activities at the beginning of 1900s, the large factory building was being used both for tobacco processing and cigarette manufacturing purposes.
Such a big factory has been established in the region for a couple reasons. Tobacco customs were around this region and many of the workers making up the workforce in the factory were living in the said region. The factory has been acquired by state authorities as of 1 March 1925 after a 45 year’s period of French operations.
We may have a good idea of that time if we look at the photographs taken in 1900s telling about the life at the factory. There were a total of 2162 employees working in the factory, 1500 female and 662 male workers. TEKEL Cibali Tobacco Factory was in fact a small city with its own police station, social service personnel, hospitals, social facilities, grocery stores, schools, a fire station, trade unions and restaurants.