Kottbusser Tor, 1902
A lot of us might have felt the urge the escape the present since last Monday. Although we were planning to share this interesting project that takes you onto a virtual journey in Berlin in some more peaceful circumstances, let’s take the current opportunity to appreciate how Berlin has remained a glorious capital throughout many different times of social anxiety and political instability.
The appropriately named Time Travel Berlin website is a complex project bringing us closer to the history of Berlin. What I mostly enjoy about it is although it does make you learn a lot about history, it does so in a completely unbiased manner that rather encourages making your own judgement. The non-profit project, created by Alexander Darda, depicts Berlin in 8 different periods of time (one of them is even in the future, but only on the German site!), providing only a few sentences of background information about each of them.
Each year listed up on the website is a link to an intricate Berlin map, enriched with multiple interactive points. Those take you to pictures of buildings that used to exist in Berlin at the given time. I recommend you to take some time out of your schedule to enjoy this project, because just a fleeting look over any of the maps may make you feel literally lost among the dark alleys of the past. After you’ve approached the website with enough attention, though, you’ll find it a very rewarding experience.
Time Travel Berlin – Interactive Map 1914
Time Travel Berlin – Interactive Map 1945
Time Travel Berlin – Interactive Map 1954
Time Travel Berlin – Interactive Map 2015
Each of the maps is quite intriguing, but the one that I found extremely worthwhile is the one from 1914, just before the First World War. The plan depicts a lot of exciting urban change that took place in the four preceding decades, like founding of the new housing areas and remodeling of the old town. According to the info on the website, this particular map is detailed with the biggest amount of pictures. It’s a really good idea to look at the them as you proceed with viewing the map, because otherwise recognizing some of the spots may be quite a challenge, since a lot of the buildings was destroyed, and later rebuilt and oftentimes renamed.
On the other hand, it also features a lot of buildings I know from the still relatively short time I’ve been living here, and which you’d definitely recognize as well (especially in color!), the most obvious of them being probably Reichstag and the Gendarmenmarkt.
Schlossplatz, photo: Waldemar Titzenthaler, 1900
Reichstag, 1890 – 1905
Gendarmenmarkt, 1890 – 1905
Mühlendamm, ca. 1900
The real fun awaits you though when you set out to explore Berlin by yourself. That’s how you get to know those (both past and present) streets.