What do a nature site, public park, and party venue all have in common? Annabelle Mallia discovers the answer is trains.
What do a nature site, public park, and party venue all have in common? Trains.
The political situation in Berlin between WWII and the end of the Cold War in 1989 meant the redevelopment and utilization of many areas, including train depots, was put on hold until Berlin could take its place as capital once more. Some of these locations have now been converted into fantastic public spaces. At the former railway yard Naturpark
Südgelände Schoneberg (S Priesterweg), more than four decades of neglect allowed flora around the tracks to grow into wild urban woodland. Abandoned due to reduced train services in the West (governed by the Reichsbahn sitting in the East), it is today one of the first officially conserved urban-industrial nature sites. A fascinating mix of nature, relics of the steam train era, and art, the park has paths and elevated bridges following the course of the old railway tracks, and a former locomotive hall now displaying works from experimental artists. There is also an open-air stage featuring theater performances under the stars.
Park am Gleisdreieck (U Gleisdreieck) is another example of abandoned train tracks overgrown by wilderness. A former railway hub, it became an industrial wasteland after WWII and lay dormant for decades before being redeveloped into an urban park. The 26-hectare site, stretching along the western fringe of Kreuzberg, is an inner- city recreational oasis, offering walking and jogging paths, skate ramps, numerous playgrounds, and plenty of green meadows for picnickers and sports enthusiasts. Some of the old signaling and railway facilities remain, providing a distinctive flair and glimpse into the park’s origins. Instead of nature, expect graffiti-tarnished grounds and derelict buildings at the RAW
Gelände (S+U Warschauer Straße). Founded in 1867 as a train repair station (ReichsbahnAusbesserungs-Werk), it has been converted into a thriving, alternative cultural project. There is the Sunday flea market, a bunker turned climbing wall, and an indoor skating hall, along with bars and music venues to keep you partying until the crack of dawn, when the city trains start up again to take you home.