French mandate-era architecture in Karantina. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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When the garbage trucks came to dump in Karantina, what of its history did the drivers know?However, since the establishment of the quarantine, through to refugee camps, slaughterhouses, and most recently, waste treatment facilities, Karantina has long been Beirut's way station.Karantina, which today refers to the flat quarter north of Charles Helou Avenue and west of the river, derives its name from a quarantine facility for maritime travelers – a "lazaretto," built to accompany the city's port.Historians still debate why Ibrahim Pasha, the son of the Albanian ruler of Egypt, preferred Beirut's harbor over the more favorable one in Sidon when he conquered the Syrian coast in 1831 .The important thing is that he did, and he ignited the city's renaissance by improving the city's port. In 1923, there were over 200,000 Armenians in Beirut alone, settled first of all in a shanty camp in La Quarantine quarter.In 1895, the city inaugurated the Mar Mikhael train station, which connected Beirut to Damascus via Riyak in the Bekaa Valley. Cargo could now travel between port and metropolis in just 10 hours. The port attracted other facilities to Karantina as well.When the environment minister retired the Naameh landfill in July this year, the Beirut governor authorized Sukleen to gather the city's trash in Karantina.
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