Walk XIII: Kapitalist Café

August 23, 2016 § 2 Comments

This one’s a bit of a cheat. Not really a real walk- I stuck in the neighbourhood but I thought this café, or at least its facade, was worth discussing.

I’m not sure how long Kapitalist café on Oderberger Straße has been in existence; I could easily find out online, but what fun is that? All I know is that in the google streetview shot below, taken in 2008, it ain’t there.

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 9.43.48 PM.jpgIt now occupies the same space as the café seen here on the left (I’d love to know the story of the guy sitting on the stoop).

Jump forward to 2016 and this building is now covered in scaffolding. They’re renovating its frontage.

One of the fascinating aspects of taking in the apartment buildings in the former East Berlin is seeing the occasional survivor from the communist period. It’s common to see a street lined with lovely, renovated buildings. Here you are, strolling along, looking at all these civilized, face-painted ladies and then…. it’s an old Eastern frau, sitting in amongst them, hair unkempt, face gloriously absent any macquillage, insolently smoking a cigarette and staring at you.

Berlin is without doubt the only major European capital boasting this feature.

And it is a feature. Of course one can’t stop developers improving their buildings, especially if it means being able to raise rent and attract more wealthy outsiders. It’s hard to accept that in ten years, none of these kind of apartment buildings will be left.

But I have a hope for Kapitalist. Yes, they’re redoing everything above it but is it possible, please, to leave the ground floor as it is? How cool would that be, to have a beautifully done building on floors 1 up and a café from the old East on the ground?

It also fits the theme of the place, being a throwback-style joint. I’m sure the café owners who rent the space are screaming to leave it as it is.

It probably won’t happen. And the worst part? The further away we travel in time from 1989, the less appealing buildings like this will be to visitors and newcomers. They’ll just think they’re ugly.

Faded glory can be poignant. What do we do with inglorious times that fade?

For the moment at least, Berlin still has the odd tough lady, stimulating us with her reminders of a hard past.


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