As organizers of urban development in the modern sense, municipalities go back to the mid-19th century in Turkey. The main theme of this article is an analysis of the trends over roughly 150 years. Three main headings are used within this framework: (a) the political and administrative level; (b) the level of financial policies; (c) historical development of the relationship between the central and local governments with respect to the legal and institutional framework of urban planning. This relationship is fundamentally paternalistic and authoritarian. The study investigates the authenticity of the currently pronounced liberal policies and the subsequent implementation mechanisms devised by the present administration over the past 8 years. Although a change of government seems imminent, most of the policies implemented are considered to be irreversible. Emphasis is given to an assessment of the claim that liberal governments have introduced positive changes in this structural mechanism, rather than a normative evaluation of this structural relationship.