What I find especially interesting about the development of a city is to see the changes for myself. I hadn’t lived long enough in Berlin (or long enough in general) to relate to my older and wiser friends about all the things that have been better or worse in the past. People do like to tell their anecdotes, so you hear about the fantastic club scene that used to exist in Berlin and about the great spirit that has been worn down by tourists and whatnot. To me, it all sounds a bit foreign.
But recently even I have started noticing how things have changed in comparison to when I moved to Berlin. It’s been about four years now and sometimes I try to remember how everything was back then, but honestly, I used to live in Wedding and nothing changed there. Moving to Kreuzberg put me right into the spot of fluctuating restaurants and people. I moved from place to place within Kreuzberg three times in the past three years, rents are on the rise like they’ve never been before. People have started to move to the next cheap Kiez available – Neukölln. I’ve noticed that most of my friends have moved from either Friedrichshain or Kreuzberg to the north of Neukölln, most still staying within the inner circle of the S-Bahn Ring. But even more surprising is that even I have been hanging out there a fair lot lately. And I do honestly believe: if it weren’t for the Tempelhofer Park, it would not be so.
Especially in the Schillerkiez around Boddinstraße, where one of the NK entrances to the Tempelhof is, have the changes been visible. New bars and burger shops and Spätis are now where used to be nothing. I can remember the nothing, because it’s not that long ago. Other people remember too: apparently some of these new “cool” spots have been welcomed with warm greetings (read: graffiti-bombings and vandalism). Of course, gentrification is always an issue in Berlin, especially now that new people – students and artists – have to chose the more affordable areas to live their life in the city. However you twist an turn it, not many people will profit from the changes in the long run. But the whole subject stays interesting in many perspectives: from a visual one, for starters. When walking around our neighborhoods we often point out this or that thing that used to be here or there, but we rarely take into account how that has the power to influence the general aesthetics of a street or a corner.
I find that the Schillerkiez could make a great example of how a neighborhood can change gradually. These are some shots of the status quo, this is what it looks like right now, on the edge of being something completely different but not yet radically transformed. Let’s return to where we are next year and see if we can spot the differences.