The most common story about where the name “Şişli” comes from is that a family called “Şişçiler”(skewer or long and thick needle producers) lived there and that they had a mansion in the region. It is newer settlement in comparison to Istanbul, which has a story of 2500 years. However, the locality called Kurtuluş, part of which is within the boundaries of Şişli today, which was called Ayios Dimitrios first in the past and then “Tatavla” due to the horse stables that were present, has a story dating back to the period of Süleyman I (1520-1566) .The region, in which artisans that were held captive during sea conquests of the islands in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas were settled, was later preferred by foreigners who came to Istanbul for trade.
It is known that people who lived in this region were well known for their skills in various jobs from shipbuilding to shoe making, in firefighting and that they had an important role in the art, culture and sport life of Istanbul. Towards the end of the 18th century, the people in this region, whose population was about twenty thousand and most of whom were , Greeks, had an edict forbidding other people entering that region .Tatavla was governed by community council consisting of twelve people. This council comprised 53 representatives chosen from 1030 places located region. This system continued until the Republic; when the prohibition of entering the region was abolished, the region was given the name “Kurtuluş” (liberation).Most of the old buildings in the region were destroyed by fires; foreign school, churches, and cemeteries still exist as the proof of various periods. There was no longer significant settlement in Şişli until the middle of 1800’s; people cultivated vegetables and fruits in large open countryside; they also grew flowers. The movements of westernization in the Ottoman State in the same century affected not only but also every part of the social life in Istanbul. Doubtlessly, that the place and the people related to the palace moved to the palaces near the coast in Beşiktaş from Topkapı Palace caused the regions around to be inhabited and developed and new roads to be opened.
With the entitlement of the right to acquire real estate to foreigners thanks to the Imperial Edict of Gülhane declared when Abdülmecit(1839-1861) became sultan and with the encouragement of settlement in the locality called Teşvikiye, demand for the region by rich and influential people increased. Very few of the mansions that were built during its period survived. Another area of settlement that was allowed for settlement for the migrants that used to live in areas near the border cities when the Ottoman State lost some land during the reign of sultan Abdülmecit and that took refuge in Istanbul is the place where there were barley fields and mulberry trees in the northeast of Şişli. This rural settlement was named as Mecidiyeköy after the sultan. Meanwhile, some public buildings like Mekteb-I Harbiye (Military School) was established in 1862, Darülaceze in 1895, Eftal Hastahanesi in 1898. Bomonti Bira Fabrikasi and Matbaa-I Osmaniye (Ottoman Printing House) were built at the beginning of 1990’s. However, the tendency of the people to move to the region of Şişli, the demand by rich foreigners that were harmed by Beyoğlu fire in 1870 to construct big buildings there, the extension of the horse-drawn tramcar and then electric tramcar line from Taksim to Pangaltı and Şişli and the installation of electricity and town gas made the region the most attractive point of Istanbul. Şişli and the neighboring areas became the place of not only but also the Ottoman pashas and elite people and intellectual who adopted or wanted to have a western lifestyle. The region was transformed into an environment where a more contemporary and modern life was led compared to the conditions of that time. During the process of constitutional monarchy after the declaration of the Imperial Edict of Gülhane, the struggle for freedom and incident of March31 were symbolized by the opening of the Abide-I Hürriyet (monument of freedom) in 1911. Many neighborhoods in Şişli were named after pashas like Mahmut Şevket Paşa, Halil Rıfat Paşa, Izzet Paşa, who held important positions then and took part in that struggle. The first headquarters of National Independent struggle started by Mustafa Kemal in Anatolia was in Şişli, too. Furthermore, several neighborhood of Şişli today were given the names that remind those days like 19 Mayıs, Cumhuriyet , Ergenekon, Bozkurt ,İnönü and Halide Edip Adıvar.
The dark days at the beginning of the 1900s, the years of invasion, frequent fires and concerns about security introduced western type of apartment flats in which more than one family lived together though in separate parts. The increase in the number of the apartments in Şişli, the construction of attached buildings by the side of the old roads caused the formation of the main streets that would establish the backbone of the city. The increasing demand for settlement around this backbone caused the formation of new neighborhoods. Şişli was also largely affected by migration waves in 1950’s. Shantytowns like Çaglayan and Gültrpr were built around. Şişli , whose population boomed, and which was part of the township in 1954. New shantytowns like Örnektepe, Kuştepe, Çeliktepe and Hürriyet were added to Şişli in 1960’s.