There was no institution carrying out the services of a municipality as we understand it today until 1840. Public services were conducted through governors’ orders and a variety of charities were utilized. Between the years 1833 to 1840, under the authority of Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt, the organization of charitable foundations had been improved and the range of services provided were increased. There were approximately 350 foundations in today’s provincial borders by the 19th century, out of these 350, 55 were employed with bringing water to various regions. 14 of them provided educational services, 5 took on construction and maintenance work while 2 managed soup kitchens and public houses.
The American Civil War had a significant impact on Adana when it erupted in 1860. Europe’s and notably Britain’s most profitable industry, the textile industry’s staple, cotton came from the United States. Because of its slave labor, the States could harvest tons of raw material for the cheapest prices. However, due to the war, the cotton reserve was quickly melting away while production came to a halt. Europe was in a state of panic so British, French and German delegations met up with the Sultan one by one to create incentives towards cotton plantation in Adana and Egypt. Starting from 1863, hundreds of Europeans started living in Adana and with them the city’s structure started to change. Suddenly brand-new demands appeared and these Europeans, called the Levantines, were in competition with each other for investments towards a modern city life. Every nation wanted themselves to have the absolute advantage in Adana.
As a result, a new authority called “Muhtesiplik” (Ottoman Office for Public Regularity) was established in 1870. This new institution was the first example of what we know today as a municipality. It was essentially an audit organization composed of constabulary officials. For example, these officials inspected scales, food prices, sanitation and building operations. While the office for public regularity was created, the city’s name changed from Ezene to Atana. The Office for Public Regulatory turned took its final form in 1871 and Municipality of Adana was created. As Atana was not embraced by people, the city’s name changed once more to Adana.
The first mayor of the city was Suleyman Effendi. The mayor maintained the office for public regularity rather than deal with brand new concepts in this new post. Following his term, Kirkor Bezdikyan, serving between 1877 to 1879, and Sinyor Artin, who took over and served until 1881, instituted a modern understanding of municipal work with the help of the Levantines. During their term in office roads were expanded, stone block pavements were laid, and gutter drainage systems were built. Above all, an understanding of urban management developed. Guidelines on sanitation and lighting were imposed. The first sewerage work started in 1908.
Due to the political unrest regarding the Armenian minority (also referred to as İgtisas, meaning disorder) that resulted in riots (on 13-14 April 1909) and the subsequent incidents, municipal services were interrupted. Later on, the French took complete control of city’s management during occupation (1918-1921.) The mayor and even the governor were simply a part of the puppet regime.
Eventually, as a result of the Pozantı Congress, Diblanzade Mehmet Fuat Bey got elected as the true mayor of Adana. The first council members were Ahmet Remzi Bey (Yuregir), Ibrahim Kethuda, Halil Bey (Savatlı), Haydarzade Ali and İsmail Karadayi.
Ali Munif Yegenaga, who was appointed mayor after liberation and served until 1926, was also the first mayor of the Turkish Republic. Turhan Cemal Beriker took office after him and presided until 1938. He oversaw the establishment of several important facilities, management of crucial development plans and vital building projects. The wholesale market hall, parks and recreational areas, many new roads and the ice plant are just a few of his accomplishments. In addition, through his incentives in the Adana Electricity Board, he helped bring electricity to Adana. Adana Electricity Board was nationalized and transferred to the municipality in 1943.
Seyhan Hydroelectric Power Plant and Dam, dedicated on April 6th, 1956, was an important milestone for the Municipality of Adana, affecting the city both positively and negatively. Lands within the area of the reservoir were expropriated at a high value. As a result, the villagers who came upon a sum of money they could have never earned through labor began a rural exodus. New factories were opening every single day thanks to the ability to create electricity cheaply and in high amounts while electric motor-pump usage spread through the agricultural fields. Thus, Adana became an incredibly attractive center of employment and migration into the city continued.
Prime Minister Adnan Menderes’s vision for Adana was to turn the city into a U.S. state, in every aspect, so with this particular interest he implemented one of a kind infrastructure projects between 1957 to 1960. The main sewage system, comprising open channels and cement piping at the time, was improved and expanded with an underground reinforced concrete drainage system. The mayor Ali Sepici established a great reputation during this period, when hundreds of buildings were expropriated and demolished with the help of army vehicles in order to expand the Ozler main street. The residential street between Yeni Mosque and the public swimming pool was also widened and connected to the newly reconstructed Ziyapasa Boulevard.
Many important breakthroughs in the history of Turkish municipalities such as the construction of Adnan Menderes Boulevard, The New Adana City Project, Public Housing as an Alternative to Slums Project, council estate initiatives supported by the Municipal Corporation, innovations in garbage collection and sanitation, organization of taxation procedures, improvements to public transportation and privatization of sundry services took place in Adana during 1984 to 1989. In the same period, Adana received its “Metropolitan” status.