Mittwoch, 17. Oktober 2007

In praise of 'useless' land ...

Berlin used to be full of empty spaces. Admittedly, many of them were pretty decrepit. But they were still kind of neat - and certainly, especially in the city centre, quite unique. In most other cities those spaces would have long ago been built on, given way to the profit motive.
'Brachen', as we call them in German, were of course a sign of Berlin's turbulent and divided history. These empty spaces were there for a reason, not for fun. But post 1989, in any case, they were also the outward sign of a city that allowed for quirkiness. Some empty spaces were places for cool beer gardens and bars; others attracted artists; others just were - including for homeless and junkies. - But now, a critical mass of empty space in central Berlin is and has been taken over by a corporate building boom. This boom has changed the character and feel of the city. "Die Friedrichstrasse wird ne Glitzermeile in Berlin", sang Wolf Biermann already a few years back ('Friedrichstrasse is becoming glitter street', a place for posh shops and posh people, would be a very loose translation). But it ain't just Friedrichstrasse. When you take the S-Bahn, say, from the main station to Alexanderplatz, you can see how key pieces of land are all being built upon. Inevitably, it is always hotels, offices and "luxury appartments" that replace the previous, messy clutter. Further afield, it is the same story. Along the river Spree, for example, a massive development is planned, that will obliterate clubs, squats and messy green space. It will further destroy what is special about Berlin. Sure, there is opposition, but will it succeed?
I love Berlin. But the corporate take over of Berlin makes me angry. And sad.
P.S. Can someone fund me to fight this please? Thanks ;-).

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