Wedding (Berlin)


Wedding (Berlin)

Wedding ("der Wedding") is a locality in the borough of Mitte, Berlin, Germany and was a separate borough in the north-western inner city until it was fused with Tiergarten and Mitte in Berlin's 2001 administrative reform. At the same time the eastern half of the former borough of Wedding – on the other side of "Reinickendorfer Straße" – was separated as the new locality of Gesundbrunnen.

History

In the 12th century, the manor of the nobleman Rudolf de Weddinge was located on the small Panke River in the immediate vicinity of today's "Nettelbeckplatz". The farmstead, which burned down more than once, remained abandoned in the forest until the 18th century. In the mid-18th century, while Gesundbrunnen was being built up as a health resort and spa town, gambling and prostitution moved into Wedding, transforming it into a pleasure district. In 1864 Ernst Christian Friedrich Schering established the Schering pharmaceutical company on "Müllerstraße", a part of Bayer since 2006.

The constant migration of country-dwellers into the city at the end of the 19th century converted Wedding into a working-class district. The labourers lived in cramped tenement blocks. After World War I Wedding was known as "Red Wedding" as it was renowned for its militant, largely communist working class; it was the scene of violent protests on May 1, 1929. Because of the politics of the workers in Wedding, it was a target of attacks by the Nazi government in the 1930s.

After World War II, Wedding and Reinickendorf together made up the French sector of Berlin. The north side of Wedding's Bernauer Straße and both northern and southern sidewalks were in the French sector while the buildings along the southern side were in Soviet territory. When the Berlin Wall was being built in August 1961, many who lived in apartments in these buildings frantically jumped from their windows to the sidewalk below, before the buildings could be evacuated and their windows bricked up.

Wedding was the western terminus of one of the first refugee tunnels dug underneath the Berlin Wall. It extended from the basement of an abandoned factory on Schönholzer Straße in the Soviet sector underneath Bernauer Straße to another building in the west. Though marvellously well constructed and its secrecy maintained, the tunnel was plagued by water from leaking pipes, and had to be shut down after only a few days of operation.

A section of the Berlin Wall has been reconstructed near the spot on Bernauer Straße where the tunnel ended. Two sections of wall run parallel to one another down the street with a strip of no man's land in the middle. A nearby museum documents the history of the Wall.

Wedding today

Today, Wedding is one of the poorest areas of Berlin, with a high unemployment rate (almost 26%). Almost 17% of the population live on social welfare; 27% live below the poverty line. [http://www.bmgev.de/mieterecho/305/08-sozialstruktur.html] Foreigners make up almost 30% of the population. [http://www.statistik-berlin.de/pms/2a1/1998/98-02-10.html] Low rents accompany the poverty in Wedding so, like many inexpensive areas in large cities, it is home to a vibrant artists' community. Many galleries have been founded by artists to provide a space for themselves and their peers to show their work.

More than other 19th century working class districts, the original character of Wedding has been preserved. It is said to be a place to find the "Schnauze mit Herz" (big mouth and big heart) of the working class. However, the spirit is not exclusively German. The multicultural atmosphere is visible in the bilingual shop signs (German and Turkish, or German and Arabic). The buildings of Wedding are relics of European post-war Modernism. Many are monolithic housing blocks. Some old buildings survived the war and urban renewal and still have coal fired heating. Wedding did not experience the boom and gentrification of the '90s in Berlin.

A green oases mark the west borders of the "old red" district. The idyllic Plötzensee lake in the Southwest. Plötzensee is a popular summer hang-out offering sandy beaches and long lawns. A section of the beach is reserved for nudists.


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