They say that when you look at Berlin from the sky, you can still clearly tell where the border between East and West used to be. Here’s why: streetlights. East and West chose to illuminate their streets in different ways, and the streetlamps still haven’t been reunified.
There’s no better time to pay attention to street lighting than at the start of the darker months of the year!
A classic gas lantern, image courtesy of liligo.de
How great would it be to make short trips to the past? It doesn’t have to be too far back: spend a weekend dancing in the 20s, go shopping in the 50s and watch a band play in the 60s… Let me tell you a little secret: you don’t need a time machine for that! In a city like Berlin, history is everywhere – not just the buildings, but also the opportunity to actually experience it. Here’s where you can be a part of modern history…
Time Travel in Berlin. Image courtesy of suze / photocase.de
The buildings around Strausberger Platz in Berlin are an impressive example of 1950s East German architecture. The so-called “gingerbread style” is a lasting legacy of the past, viewed around the world as representative of socialist influenced architecture. The buildings around Strausberger Platz may be unique in their form and arrangement, but there are further architectural examples all over the world that bear testament to the fact that the spread of this characteristic architectural style, which is also known as Socialist Classicism or Stalinist architecture, was not constrained by national borders.
The close to three decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall have been marked by a proliferation of urban legends and stereotypes about socialist East Germany. A closer look at the reality of everyday life in the GDR shows that while there may be some truth to some of these, others are complete fabrications. We’ve explored a few of the most prominent stories to help you untangle fact from fiction.
Image source: tiefpics – photocase
With constant shortages even of everyday items forcing people to improvise and make the most of what they did have, necessity was truly the mother of invention in socialist East Germany. The impetus to make up for the dearth of consumer goods available in the shops and to compensate for the gap in industrial and technological development between the GDR and its western neighbours gave rise to some ingenious innovations. Driven by the desire for economic self-sufficiency and a better standard of living, the willingness to experiment was reflected in the impressive number of patent applications filed with the East German Office of Inventions and Patents – around 130,000 by the time the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, compared to only 70,000 in West-Germany, which had a much larger population.
Image source: mischkaarndti – photocase