The Spree passes the Treptow and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg districts as it heads towards Mitte.
The full extent of the change within the service and industry sectors on the Treptower side can be seen in the new development of modern high-rise office buildings and the creation of green spaces here. The mouth of Kreuzberg’s Landwehr canal is encircled by green.
Across the way in Friedrichshain, the view is defined by Osthafen’s aged and heritage-listed industrial facilities that are today used by media and fashion companies.
During the Osthafen’s construction in the early 20th Century, the design of all functional buildings was intentionally made to be visually appealing – to cheer those in the passing tour boats!
The massive hipped roof of the Osthafen granary is softened by three wing dormers and many small shed dormers. Typical neoclassical design elements such as pilasters and capitals distinctly accentuate the building. The relief panels portray harbor workers. Since the view from the Spree was important, these reliefs appear somewhat oversized when walking by. The warehouse was used as such until 1990 and then stood empty, as was common at the time, until 2001 when it was completely renovated and used as an heritage listed office building.
With a little imagination, it’s possible to guess what the boxy building on its right was originally used for. The light yellow bricks with the diamond pattern reminds one of ... well? ... egg cartons! It was used to store eggs from 1929. An iron concrete framework with cork insulation provided a highly advanced cooling technology for its time. Between 70 and 75 million eggs were able to be stored here simultaneously. In practice it was around 40 million, since other perishable goods were also stored on the floors. Its capacity was not adequate during World War II and needed to be increased. It was shut down two years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and redeveloped in 2002. Many windows and the glass facade hanging in front on the side of the Spree allow light into heritage-listed egg storage depot and the offices of the "creatives.".
Oberbaum Bridge resembles a medieval town gate and is the most distinctive bridge in Berlin. A detail-rich jewel fashioned in märkischer Gothic brickwork, studded with references to other architectures and certainly not as symmetrical as it might seem at first glance. To illustrate the complexity: The left tower is round with the Brandenburg eagle perched at its top, while the right tower is square and has the Berlin bear on the top. The left tower refers to the city wall in Prenzlau’s Mitteltorturm, the right tower refers to a gate tower from Kyritz.
The bridge name brings to mind the former function of the ‘Oberbaum’ (tree top). During the 18th Century, customs points stationed along the River Spree were closed at night with long tree trunks so that no ship could pass unnoticed. The ‘Unterbaum’ (tree stump) counterpart was located downstream just in front of today’s Hauptbahnhof.
The bridge suffered heavily during the war and postwar periods. It was a highly-secured border crossing point for pedestrians while Berlin remained divided. The magnificent combination of street, sidewalk and elevated rail line was left to decay and also partially demolished.
The deplorable border situation also altered the appearance of the area. The waters of the Spree belonged to East Berlin, and border protection was enforced with fences, walls, bars, floodlights, patrol boats and a floating security installation in Osthafen. People died while trying to escape over the Spree River near the Oberbaum Bridge, either drowned or killed. Even injured children were left to die as Westerners who sought to help them were considered "border violators" and could therefore be targeted until 1975.
The historical appearance of the bridge, which also incorporated the technical transport requirements, was largely reinstated after the fall of the wall. The most striking new feature implemented was the steel support in the middle strut. The light installation “Rock – Paper – Scissors” at the bridge harks back to 1997 and reminds one of the former situation of arbitrary despotism.
As of 1994, vehicles and pedestrians have been able to pass unhindered, and since the fifth anniversary of the fall of the wall, the U-Bahn (subway) line 1 – yes, the one from the German musical – has again been running from Schlesisches Tor to Warschauer Brücke!
The Spree, Oberbaum Bridge and the banks are being used peacefully today: The "Molecule Man" symbolizes the merging of Berlin’s Treptow, Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg districts. The “Hoppetosse” is a club and restaurant ship that docked in 2001 and later the Badeschiff (bathing ship) was added in 2004. Other restaurants and cafes have also opened along the former harbor area. The "Vegetable Fight" held on the bridge is a slippery, fair-like spectacle. A more divisive issue however is the concept of the “Media Spree” ...
The cathedral, the Altes Stadthaus (Old Town Hall), the Rotes Rathaus (Red Town Hall) and the TV tower make up the skyline beyond the Oberbaum Bridge.
After 40 years of use, the Rotes Rathaus became too small and two further buildings were added; the Altes Stadthaus (Old Town Hall - 1911) and the Neues Stadthaus (New Town Hall - 1938). Both are situated at Molkenmarkt – one of the oldest squares in the city. The Altes Stadthaus had to be representative and provide enough working space for about 1,000 civil servants. Up to 1,500 guests can party in the Bärensaal (Hall of Bears).
The tower of the Altes Stadthaus is among the highest in the city. The “Fortuna” figure on top of the dome stands in relation to its companions “Religion” and “Virtue” found atop the French and German Cathedral at Gendarmenmarkt.
The mansard roof that was destroyed during the war has been replaced by a flat gabled roof – an unattractive option taken due to cost-cutting measures. In 1951, the bronze “Fortuna” was dismantled and replaced by a large antenna which in turn had to give way to a GDR flag. In the mid 90s, the interior and exterior were reconstructed in accordance with historical building protection guidelines. The original mansard roof and “Fortuna” were returned to their place.
The Stasi, the East Berlin magistrate, the GDR Council of Ministers and various government departments all operated out of the Altes Stadthaus. In 1990, the only freely elected East German government prepared the treaty for German reunification here. After Germany’s reunification the Altes Stadthaus became the outpost for the Office of the Federal Chancellor, the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs as well as the registrar's office of central Berlin for some time. At present, the federal Monuments Office and the Senate administration for Home Affairs and Sports are to be found there.
Information about the Cathedral, the Rotes Rathaus and the television tower can be found under aroshi “Luftschloss” motif
How to get there::
RE 1, RE 2, RE 7, RE 14 to Warschauer Straße.
Or RB 66 to Warschauer Straße.
Or S 3, S 5, S 7, S 75 to Warschauer Strasse.
Or U 1 to Warschauer Straße oder Schlesisches Tor.
Or U 12 to Schlesisches Tor.
Or M 10 to Oberbaumbrücke.
Or Bus 265 to Schlesisches Tor.
Or Bus 347 to Oberbaumbrücke.