Bergmannkiez is a tight little area of Berlin. It is situated in Kreuzberg. It edges along Mehringdamm, and goes off at a tangent towards Südstern by connection of Bergmannstrasse, veers off to Geneissenaustrasse, then up hill towards Columbia Damm.
Over the years, it has become more popular due to restaurants and cafes opening up. Coffee shops galore, places to have a good breakfast, and clothes shops, not to mention the well situated supermarkets that give locals a choice of where to buy groceries. You could live here, and spend most of your social life revolving around Bergmannkiez without having to go anywhere else in Berlin.
Unfortunately, the little shops of yesteryear have been driven out by those who can afford to pay the high rents on commercial property along Bergmannstrasse. It used to be a place for antique shops full of interesting knick-knacks. Those were the days when second hand was just that, second hand, sold for a few pennies without alluding towards the object being some high value vintage product that is only a euro cheaper than brand new.
It’s taken at least five years of discussion and argument to come to any conclusions about what the Berlin, Bergmannkiez should look like. It appears, that now, as we go into the post-Covid era of Berlin politics and business, a plan has been laid, and initiated. Sort of.
Bergmannstrasse has been closed down to motor traffic that used it as a shortcut from Mehringdamm to Geneissenaustrasse, or Südstern. One way traffic can now drive from Mehringdamm to the corner of Nostitzstrasse and only turn left or right, but not continue on to make a shortcut worth their while. The last few days has seen considerably less of the usual car drivers who race along Bergmannstrasse trying to beat the clock as they make their way to Geneissenaustrasse.
The plan is set, loosely. That’s what the flyers said. It looks like it’ll take some time to take shape, but the first work of laying bicycle lanes along Bergmannstrasse is underway. Bike lanes three metres wide either side of the road. Delivery traffic can enter and drop off loads between 6 am and 11 am in the mornings, locals can park as long the parking spaces last – I think there’s a plan to ban parking along the stretch of Bergmannstrasse between Nostitz Strasse and Zossener Strasse. But don’t forget, it’s a plan, but not really. Things will change.
The whole plan, initiated this week, Monday the 21st of June 2021, should be finalized by the autumn of 2022.
But we will see. It’ll develop as it goes along. In this modern business world of the 21st century, city planning is not what it once was. Big business, middle sized businesses that band together, are always keeping their eagle eyes open for loop holes to exploit. If they see that the development of the Bergmannkiez could turn into a business opportunity, such as opening a large fitness centre, a new supermarket, a chain of restaurants, or anything that business thinks it can declare a benefit to the locals, they’ll want to get their grubby mits on the plans. They will become involved in meetings, and create changes to how money is invested in further developments. Then they become a voice about who gets a chunk of tax payers money to develop their business idea.
I’ve heard say that big department stores won’t stand a chance in opening up anywhere around the Bergmannkiez, I believe that. The usual suspects involved in worldwide fast food have already been turned down, rejected and kept at bay due to their style not being in line with the feeling of what the Bergmannkiez is all about.
On the other hand, it’s modern business and planning. That means that they shift and move the goal posts, or simply kick them down, as often as needed, to allow the team with the big money to get what they want.
Property developers from afar have had their finger in pie of Bergmannkiez for years. Paint the exterior of a building, maintain the interior entrance ways, new rosettes, spruce up the steps of a staircase and call it a luxury block of flats.
Most desirable neighbourhoods in Berlin, have an atmosphere that everybody recognises. The ambient, the buzz of the neighbourhood comes from the fact that most residents were artists, creative people, originally. It took years of simple living, cafes and restaurants opened by local people, to achieve a feeling of a neighbourhood that gelled together. The people felt safe. Living in a kiez, a neighbourhood, that makes you feel safe is the first thing, then a place to enjoy.
The simple things of life, not major retail outlets, but small shops catering for the locals. Book shops, grocery shops, fresh food, clothes made by local designers and tailors who keep up with the times, but don’t lose the feeling of style and quality.
A park just up the street, Viktoria Park. The local graveyard is popular as a place to wander around and enjoy a break from traffic. You can see squirrels and mice, foxes and lovers in the graveyard. There a few half-wits who ride bicycles through the graveyard in the Bergmannstrasse. Somebody needs to explain to them the difference between a park, and a place that is for peace and solitude, rest, and respect for people visiting the graves of relatives.
Much of the work being done on the Bergmannstrasse right now is about making it easier for bicycles to pass through without being endangered by motor traffic or pedestrians. Berlin Senate has pushed a pro-bike rider policy that has intensified over the years. I find it very one sided, pedestrians and their safety is never a part of the discussion. This creates a feeling of, “we can ride anywhere we like.”, among cyclists.
Bikes over cars, good. But cyclists before people, not good. It’s totally irresponsible of the Berlin Senate to ignore the safety of people walking along the street. Why do pedestrians have to watch out that they won’t be hit by a fast moving vehicle on the pathway?
Take a Walk into Your Own Neighbourhood