Across the Schwedter Steg

I head south from Bornholmer Straße station towards Mauerpark (wall park). The smell of coal smoke hangs thick in the air and everything seems to be rendered in shades of grey.

That's the cue for another black and white moment, I think...

I still have strong memories of coming here in the snow in early 2005, so after the morning's snowfall, I couldn't resist coming back to take a look again.

There are some remains of the Hinterlandmauer (the 'eastern' side of the border defences) here, where Norwegerstraße meets Behmstraße. It ran all the way along the side of the road here, the S-Bahn tracks on the other side forming the 'no man's land' between it and the western side:


The remains of Hinterlandmauer at Norwegerstraße


On the other side of the road is the Schwedter Steg, a raised walkway which crosses the small triangle of land between the S-Bahn tracks, as well as bridging the railway tracks themselves. It always feels lonely here, like the wall drove the place's life spirit away and it's never quite returned. It's not that there are no signs of life here - there are plenty - it just always feels oddly quiet.


The Berlin skyline from the Schwedter Steg


The Schwedter Steg was built in 1998, replacing an earlier bridge which was destroyed in World War II and never rebuilt during the years of Berlin's division.

The wall ran along Schwedter Straße, passing right in front of the housing blocks there. The television tower is a constant presence on the horizon, both comforting and unsettling in equal measures; it provides a familiar point of reference and yet there's also the feeling of it being something you can't escape.


The corner of Kopenhagener Straße


The buildings on this stretch are particularly run down, having suffered a long period of neglect during the days of the GDR.

The sides of the buildings on the corner of Kopenhagener Straße still hold evidence of the area's past...but you have to know what you're looking for...


Anchor points for an electric fence on a building in Kopenhagener Straße


The balcony of this flat has been removed. In its place are anchor points for an electric fence. The buildings here formed part of the border; a section of Hinterlandmauer blocked off the end of Kopenhagener Straße and the windows and doors of the buildings facing the west were bricked off. Residents could only access their flats through the back entrance, through the courtyard.

The building on the opposite corner has some anchor points too.


Anchor points for an electric fence on a building in Kopenhagener Straße


Schwedter Straße used to have a different name. Up until the 1860s, it was called Verlorener Weg. Lost Lane or Lost Path might be the most accurate translation, but perhaps Lost Way is a more interesting thing to call it, considering its history in more recent years. The way through here was indeed lost, swallowed up by the death strip and in the intervening years, humanity lost its way too.

S-Bahn: 
Bornholmer Straße (S1, S2, S25, S8, S85)
Location: 
Schwedter Steg
10437 Berlin

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