We have to thank the Ringbahn for many things: one, being a very easy way to travel around Berlins outskirts. Second, for actually defining what Berlins outskirts are. And last but not least, without Berlins Ringbahn, there would be no Berlin as we know and love and hate it. There was a posting on our favorite Berlin Blog SlowTravelBerlin, an Ode To Berlins’ S-Bahn, which I think you should all read to understand more about the infrastructure of the city. Here’s a little excerpt from the text, just to get you all teased up:
Cities like London and Paris were already massive metropolises by the time trains arrived in Berlin, meaning that big ideas like high-speed overground railways encircling the city or cross-town link schemes were already de-facto impossible. From the inception of railways, it took Paris over 100 years to start linking its main termini with proper trains; London is only just moving on Crossrail this year.
In Berlin, things were essentially the other way round. The hugely practical Ringbahn that draws a circle around the city centre was built in the 1870s on what was essentially greenfield land; Berlin’s growth spurt only really got going after they’d built it. In other cities, railways were bolted on as afterthoughts; in Berlin, they grew with.
For us though, the Ringbahn is not just a very significant cultural and historical object, it is also that one damned train track where you’ll always fall asleep after partying and end up riding around in circles. It’s fun though because if it’s doing a whole cycle it’ll take you right where you want to be. Also, riding the Ringbahn means you get to watch the city pass by you — usually parts of the city you’d not see. I mean, who’s ever actually been to Westkreuz? (Admittedly, I have, but let’s just pretend nobody ever needs to be there for the sake of it).
Stefan, who apparently loves the Ringbahn just as much as I do, spent a whole cycle on the train to show us what’s going on outside. It’s a killer perspective and I love the many different attributes of the city you get to see. If you ever feel like you have some time to spare — this is an interesting way to find out about your city.