Everybody who has been to New York in recent years has been to the High Line, which has clearly become one of the main tourist attractions. What used to be simply an abandoned elevated train line with trees and weeds growing on it in the middle of the Meatpacking District, was renovated in different stages and made publicly accessible as an urban park. The unusual elevated setting, the fact that it’s actually poking through entire buildings and the great architectural redesign made the High Line a must see for every visitor in town. While I knew all that, what I didn’t know was that Berlin actually had a High Line as well…
Well, that is to say that Berlin had a High Line in the first stage. It had an abandoned elevated train line with trees and weeds growing on it, but that was unfortunately where the story ended. The Siemansbahn, as the abandoned train line was called, had not been converted into a nicely designed park and it had not been made publicly accessible, but I couldn’t help and think that this was quite a shame since the structure itself was actually quite beautiful, even if it was is a state of decay.
Actually the state of the decay the Siemensbahn was in was part of the attraction since there was always something really compelling about the interaction of man-made buildings or structures with nature. This was especially true when nature slowly started to reclaim its property, exposing the morbid existence of our material world and showing us what would happen to our built environment without continued human interference.
Anyway, as it turned out, the Siemenbahn was built in 1927 as an extension to the S-Bahn Ring to connect Siemensstadt, a newly constructed worker town at the then outskirts of Berlin, with the center of the city. After the partial move of Siemens to Munich and a better connection to the area by subway, the S-Bahn became completely obsolete and was finally shut down in 1980. Nowadays the Siemensbahn is a landmark, consisting of three abandoned stations, a rusting bridge over a canal, a control tower and a few kilometers of elevated tracks.
Impressions of the Siemensbahn
Where to find the Siemensbahn
From the subway station Siemensdamm of the U7 it’s a really short walk and the elevated train line crossing the streets can already be seen.
Disclaimer: This is not really a publicly accessible place and reaching some areas might require jumping a fence. This is obviously something I wouldn’t do and I would strongly discourage you from doing so either!
Uncertain Future of the Siemensbahn
Proposals to reactivate the train line and add a connection to the airport Tegel have not been approved and thus the fate of the Siemensbahn continues to be uncertain…
What would you do with the Siemensbahn? Would you tear it down, leave it like it is, create a High Line park, or try to reactivate it?