Walk II : Moritzplatz through Alex

August 12, 2016 § 1 Comment

Berlin is the city of what might have been.

Berlin is the city of what could be.

Berlin is the city of what is no longer here.

Berlin is the city of what remains.

DSC_0137.jpgIt strikes me as unique among the European capitals I’ve visited. A sometimes discordant mixture of the aforementioned four elements. Lovers of classic Europe often don’t feel Berlin- its grittiness, its urbanity, its metastasized graffiti spread democratically across the city.

The mind can struggle: how can one look to one’s right and see old Europe, then in one turn behold the moribund, ruthlessly uniform sight of the East German housing projects?

Berlin can fill a visitor with longing for the invisible past: a time when the city had boulevards lined with centuries-old architecture, when Berlin wasn’t the odd, edgy outsider.

Yet, in 2016, once again the world looks at Berlin and sees a European capital about to fulfill its promise. Potential realized. Is it possible? Or will circumstances again intervene?

As a resident of the city, I’m aware of the tension between those of us who are cheering on Berlin’s expansion, and those who remember a wall and the benefits that came from isolation. Locals speak of some kind of a post-mauerfall paradise, of pathetically cheap rents, abundant work and an exploding street life.

With the arrival of international cosmopolitanism, those elements are threatened. We’ve all witnessed what has happened to metropolai like New York and San Francisco: corporatism and scorched-earth gentrification have changed their culture and raised the barrier to entry, both in terms of literally entering them as a prospective resident and gaining access to various fields of endeavor.

Berlin is a long way from that problem. In the meantime, may the Dark City continue to grow and have it day.

 

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