Berlin 10: Prenzlauer-Berg

It seems particularly appropriate to be writing about Berlin and our stay in Rosa Luxemburg Strasse today, March 5th, as it is the anniversary of her birth in  1871 in Zamość in southeast Poland.

On Sunday morning a short walk from the flat took me into Prenzlauer Berg, a once working class area which became heavily squatted and a centre of counterculture before undergoing a rapid process of gentrification.  Many of the squats were cleared by police in 1998 but some were still there in 2011.

Senefelderplatz got its name from Alois Senefelder, the inventor of lithography, the basis of modern printing processes. He used a flat stone plate, coating it to repel ink except in the areas required to print which had the text (or line image) in reverse. When the plate was inked it forms a reverse image on the plate, to which the paper was then applied and the ink transferred to give a correct reading image. His name is carved in reverse on the monument.  Later metal plates were used (and paper for low cost short runs), and printing is usually ‘offset’ with a correct reading plate being transferred onto a flexible rubber or plastic sheet in reverse and then transferred onto paper to produce a right-reading print.

Almost all large volume printing in black and white and colour still uses offset litho, with colour mainly being printed from four plates, inked with yellow, magenta, cyan and black inks

A sign shows support for Bradley Manning – now Chelsea Manning. The area had become a centre for radical communities from the 1950s under the East German State and after the wall fell they were joined by many young anarchists and socialists from West Berlin and the wider west.

Many of the walls are covered with graffiti, and this one has an unusual cluster of 42 red boxes for post.

A welcome survival from an earlier age was this vintage octagonal urinal, still in full working order.

And a rather more decorative and useful piece of street furniture.

The watertower at left, Wasserturm Prenzlauer Berg, is Berlin’s oldest and is apparently known as “Fat Hermann”. Designed by Henry Gill and built by the English Waterworks Company, it was completed in 1877 and remained in use as a water tower until 1952.

As well as a large water tank at the top of the tower, it was built with flats for the water company workers below, still lived in but no longer by workers.

Although many of the buidlings from the original development of the area which was planned in 1862 and built in the following years remain. some of the more modern buildings are rather less imaginative, but many were enlivened by various decorations. There were also quite a few small park areas, often with childrens playgrounds. Probably allied bombing created a number of gaps in the area.

I walked around on my own for a couple of hours before meeting up with Linda who had been to one of the churches in the area. Although I  had to pass a German exam to get my Chemistry degree  (a throwback to the century before the war when many of the famous chemists were German and pubished in German scientific periodicals) my spoken German is pretty non-existent, though fortunately you need little or none to buy a beer in a cafe. Though not the one above. This area in particular is one were many languages are spoken and English serves pretty well.

More from my walk around  Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin to follow shortly.

Previous Berlin post


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