Photo Flick 1989 Nr. 3: Oberbaumbrücke

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Co-written with sister column   bhc-logo-newest1

The third Photo Flick in connection with the Revolution 1989 is basically a throwback to 2010 and it takes us to the Oberbaumbrücke, which spans the River Spree on the east side of Berlin, between Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. Built in 1896 under the direction of Otto Stahn, the bridge is one of Berlin’s key landmarks because of its gothic design. It’s a key crossing for subways (U-bahn) and car traffic. But it was one of the key symbols of division during the Cold War. From 1961 until the Fall of the Wall in November 1989, the concrete wall went right through the roadway portion of the bridge, and even though the structure was badly damaged and a truss span was built for U-bahn traffic, that track was barricaded shut, thus almost effectively halting passage to West-Berlin except through the border controls on the Kreuzberg side of the bridge.  Shortly after the Wall fell, the bridge was rebuilt, piece by piece to resemble its original form before World War II.

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View of the Oberbaumbrücke from the TV Tower. The East Side Gallery is on the left side of the Spree. 

Regardless of whether it can be seen along the river or even from the TV-Tower from a sniper’s view, looking at the bridge today, almost nothing is left of the Wall that cut the bridge (and Berlin) into half. Much of the area that used to be heavily patrolled with tanks, watch towers and guards have been heavily built with modern buildings with businesses, large and small, occupying the area. One of them buildings houses Universal Music Company, part of the Universal Studios consortium based in the States.

Yet it doesn’t mean the relicts have disappeared altogether. Two important points of interest still exist and should be visited while in Berlin. The first one is the East Side Gallery, a 1300 meter (4300 foot) section of the Berlin Wall that features open air art; the sections created by over 100 artists both before and after 1989. The stretch is on the Friedrichshain side of the former Wall, stretching from the bridge to Ostbahnhof Railway Station. It was renovated recently (in 2010) and is open to the public. A watch tower is included as part of the exhibit, just as much as one at the bridge itself, which was sitting empty at the time of the photo but has most likely been removed.

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The former Watch Tower on the Friedrichshain side of the bridge. 

The Oberbaumbrücke is a symbol of architecture that has withstood the test of time and the history that includes years of division. For architects, artists and bridge lovers, it’s a work of art. For educators, it is a classic example of how it became a “Borders to Bridges” story in light of going from a divided Germany and Europe into a united one. For the rest, it’s a symbol of Berlin and how it brings people together from all aspects of life. It’s definitely one worth visiting.

 

More on the bridge’s history can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oberbaum_Bridge

Information on the East Side Gallery and its paintings can be found here: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Side_Gallery

It’s part of the Tour Guide on the Bridges of Berlin, which you can click here:  https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/berlin-the-bridges-and-the-wall/

 

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