map_caption=Location of Kreuzberg in Berlin and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg
Kreuzberg, since 2001 part of the combined
Friedrichshain-Kreuzbergborough located south of Mitte, is one of the best-known areas of Berlin. Kreuzberg is often described as consisting of two distinctive parts, the "SO 36", home to many immigrants and radicals, and the more middle-class "SW 61", roughly coterminous with the old postal codes for the two areas in West Berlin. [ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,901030421-443145,00.html www.time.com Regine Wosnitza "Berlin on its wild site" 13 April 2003, retrieved on 2008-03-21 ] . Kreuzberg has emerged from its history as one of the poorest quarters in Berlin in the late 1970s, where it was an isolated section of West Berlin[ [http://www2.tu-berlin.de/fb2/sozpaed/tps/kreuzber.html Kreuzberg ] ] to one of Berlin's cultural centers in the middle of the reunified city [ [http://www.cnn.com/2007/TRAVEL/DESTINATIONS/06/01/berlin.culture/index.html Berlin's culture club - CNN.com ] ] [ [http://www.berlinonline.de/berliner-zeitung/archiv/.bin/dump.fcgi/2007/1027/magazin/0002/ Kreuzbergs Retter : Textarchiv : Berliner Zeitung Archiv ] ] . The borough is known for its very large percentage of immigrants and second-generation immigrants, many of whom are of Turkish ancestry. As of 2006 31.6% of Kreuzberg's inhabitants did not have German citizenship [ [http://web1.bbu.de/publicity/bbu/internet.nsf/index/de_nachrichtenpool.htm?OpenDocument&50BC6CB63623F96BC12571EE00357CB3 Verband Berlin-Brandenburgischer Wohnungsunternehmen e.V ] ] . While Kreuzberg thrives on its diverse cultures and is still an attractive area for many, the district is also characterized by high levels of unemployment and some of the lowest average incomes in Berlin. [ http://www.ifa.de/journal/rep2004_hall.htm retrieved on 2008-03-21 ]
Kreuzberg is bounded by the river
Spreein the east. The Landwehrkanalflows through Kreuzberg from east to west. Other characteristics are the old U-Bahn line of the today U1, the "Görlitzer Park" in "SO 36" and the Viktoriaparkin "SW 61".
As opposed to many areas of Berlin which were villages before becoming integrated into Berlin, Kreuzberg has a rather short history. It was only formed as such in 1920. Its name, literally "cross-hill", refers to its point of highest elevation, 66 m above sea level http://www.muz-online.de/sights/berlinB3.html retrieved on 2008-03-21] , a traditional place for weekend trips with small restaurants, which received its name from an 1821 monument by
Karl Friedrich Schinkelwithin the "Viktoriapark" commemorating the Napoleonic Wars. Except for its northernmost part, today's "Kreuzberg" was a very rural place until well into the 19th century.
This changed when, in the 1860s, industrialisation caused Berlin to grow rapidly. This called for extensive housing – much of which was built exploiting the dire needs of the poor, with widespread land speculation. Many of Kreuzberg's buildings originate from that time [ http://www.visitberlin.de/english/sightseeing/e_si_architektur.php retrieved on 2008-03-21] . Far into the 20th century, Kreuzberg was the most populous of Berlin's boroughs even in absolute numbers, with more than 400,000 people, although it was and still is geographically the smallest. As a result, with more than 60,000 people per square kilometre, Kreuzberg had the highest population density in Berlin.
In addition to housing, Kreuzberg was also one center of Berlin's industry. The so-called "export quarter" along Ritter Street consisted of many profitable small businesses, and the "press quarter" along Koch Street was the home of most of Germany's large newspapers as well as the Ullstein, Scherl, and Mosse book publishers.
Both of these industrial quarters were almost entirely destroyed during World War II, with the bombings of a single night from February 3, 1945. In remembrance of the old tradition, the
Axel Springerpress company erected its German headquarters at Kochstraße again, right next to the Berlin Wall.
After World War II, Kreuzberg's housing rents were regulated by law which made investments unattractive. As a result, housing was of low quality, but cheap, which made the borough a prime target for immigrants coming to Germany (and Berlin). [ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,901030421-443145,00.html www.time.com Regine Wosnitza "Berlin on its wild site" 13th april 2003, retrieved on 2008-03-21] Beginning in the late 1960s, more and more students, artists and of course immigrants used to move to Kreuzberg. "Enclosed" by the
Berlin Wallon three sides, especially the "SO 36" part of Kreuzberg became famous for its alternative lifestyle and its squatters [ http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,482795,00.html] retrieved on 2008-03-21] . Since 1987 there have been violent riots in "SO 36" on Labour day.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Kreuzberg found itself suddenly in the middle of the city again. The initially cheap rents and many 19th century housing made some parts of the borough more attractive as a residential area for a much wider (and richer) variety of people. Today, Kreuzberg has one of the youngest populations of all European city boroughs; statistically, its population has been swapped completely twice in the last two decades.
Berlin's 2001 administrative reformcombined Kreuzberg with Friedrichshainto form the new borough of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. Since the two areas are linked only by one single bridge over the Spreeriver, the Oberbaumbrücke, this combination seemed awkward to many residents. The two areas not being able to agree on a common location for the future borough's city hall, the present location in Friedrichshain was decided by tossing a five-Mark coin.
Kreuzberg has historically been home to the Berlin "
punk rock" movement as well as other alternative subcultures in Germany. The legendary " SO36" club remains a fixture on the Berlin music scene championing new artists, while staying true to its punk past. It was originally focused largely on punk music and in the 1970s was often frequented by " Iggy Pop" and " David Bowie" In those days the club rivalled New York's " CBGB" as one of the finest new-wave venues in the world. [ [http://www.so36.de The SO36 Club] ]
There has also been a significant influence stemming from African-American and "
hip hop" culture on Kreuzberg's youth and the area has become a centre for " rap" and " breakdance" within Berlin. Though the majority of Kreuzberg's residents are of German or Turkish descent, some identify more with American or African-American culture. [Brown, Timothy S. “‘Keeping it Real’ in a Different ‘Hood: (African-) Americanization and Hip-hop in Germany.” In The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture, ed. by Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle, 137-50. London; A] Hip hop was largely introduced to the youth of Kreuzberg by the children of American servicemen who were stationed nearby until the " reunification of Germany". [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9905E1D7143BF931A25757C0A9659C8B63 THE SATURDAY PROFILE; A Bold New View of Turkish-German Youth - New York Times ] ]
Every year there is a big festival in Kreuzberg called the "Carnival of Cultures" where different cultures and heritages are celebrated in a colourful street parades which include music, street entertainment, food, and art & craft stalls. [ [http://www.karneval-berlin.de Karneval der Kulturen] ]
Kreuzberg in Literature and Music
Turkish-German filmmaker "
Neco Celik" who portrays the American influence over the youth culture in Kreuzberg in his first film, " Alltag" (Daily Life) notes, "Kreuzberg is a kind of biotope where different nationalities live, but the environment determines their lives, not their nationalities."
German musician "
Sven Regener"'s first novel "Berlin Blues" is set in the district of Kreuzberg.
Kreuzberg is a song by English indie rock band "
Bloc Party" on the album " A Weekend in the City" which also mentions the " East Side Gallery." American musician " Stephen Malkmus" mentions taking a 'locomotive to Kreuzberg' in his song " The Black Book"
Kreuzberg has become known for it's bohemian way of life and this is reflected in the song "Find the Time" by English singer/songwriter Sam Duckworth's band "
Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly" on the album " Searching for the Hows and Whys" The song begins with the lyrics; "We make lists, we make plans, to write books, to form bands, or to move to Kreuzburg and escape into the night. So pack your bags and lets take control, you and me lets go, the next time that you’re lonely, or the next time that you’re free."
* [http://www.friedrichshain-kreuzberg.de/ friedrichshain-kreuzberg.de] , the website of the combined borough (in German)
* [http://www.so36.de: the SO36 Club]
* [http://www.bilderbook.org/berlin/kreuzberg/pictures/ photos of Kreuzberg]
* [http://wisarts.com/foto/kreuzberg_en.html a photowalk through Kreuzberg]
* [http://www.karneval-berlin.de/de/english.175.html: Carnival of Cultures (English)]
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