8 July 2012

Escape from Mitte


Activism ∕ Cities ∕ Film ∕ Place Making ∕ Public Space

Friedrichstrasse is one of Berlin’s rare gradient sections, a layer cake of posh, super-posh, shopping bag-laden, office boxed, Rem-nities, and “military men” produced from any of the available Allied forces uniforms. Yet, at the bottom of Friedrichstrasse, and by bottom I mean the other end, away from Unter den Linden, the bit where the great boulevard narrows, shops peter out, and exactly the point where a tourist would pause,

a blockade has appeared.

Friedrichstrasse narrows here, bottlenecks. The blockade appears to interrupt communications divide commerce. Proto-neighborhoods are born:

Hallesches Tor Quarantine?

von Mitte Promenade?

Could it be an extruded economic line? A true economic line since new fall-of-the-wall tourism has established itself at Checkpoint Charlie. In post-wall Berlin, wall-tourism has fostered polyps on the east side of the attraction: in this case hotels have pollinated the lesser loved side of Friedrichstrasse, forcing the lower end to congeal and retreat.

Perhaps the true checkpoint has slipped down the street, seeking new applications for lost functions.

Now, cyclists are working as blockade runners, riding on the sidewalks, fast and lightly armed with smart phones, cross-pollinating information and supplies between the two zones.

Pedestrians are off-route, cars are stopped, the view is a sharp black horizon.

There are warning signs.

It can’t go unsaid that this extruded line could well be the end of the city ala John Carpenter’s walled Manhattan in Escape from New York. Crime has increased 400%; the government surveils the Manhattan Island Prison. The city-colony is encircled with black containment walls at the end of the bridges, each bridge dotted with bombs.

Only the agile/eye-patched survive.

Manhattan, 1997