‘Trashy-hip’ Tempelhof Airport

Every investor in the city wants a piece of Templehof, if they could get it. Alas, the rather large area, pretty much smack dab in the middle of the city, may never be touched.

 Many many Berliners have express the opinion the area should be left as it is: A giant pubic park. Perhaps the word “park” is a bit flattering. It’s a derelict space with a couple tennis courts and a path or two.

There is a good argument for leaving at least something of the field. Operation Vittles among other things.

The Hall is already a protected historic building, built by the Nazis and an interesting example of their spank-me modernist architecture, if you’re into that sort of thing. But what about the runways and open space? Slides follow below.

 Tempelhof was the airport used in the aforementioned Operation Vittles, the American Airlift to Berlin during the nearly year and a half Soviet land blockade in what was the first un-shots of the Cold War.

West Berlin survived, was sustained by the air lift, or ‘air bridge’ as they called it, and the shear math of the situation reportedly led to the invention of modern logistics with the need to feed millions of people with a steady stream of transport airplanes, what the locals came to call “Raisin Bombers,” exibiting typical Berliner dry wit.

Closing in 2008 as an airport, Tempelhof has housed everything from concerts and film sets, to large conventions such as the Bread and Butter fashion show. Marketed as one of Berlin’s many funky derelict locations, or,  in the parlance of the day, “ein Berlin trash-modern Lokation,” they have so far left the space ‘as is’ for the most part–a derelict airport with a few fitness areas added, but other than that….nada.

And the wild open field is beautiful in the middle of the city.

But it could be so gloriously developed! We could build it, and they would come!

“Oh, the spoils,” the speculators clamor.

What’s so far held them back? Apparently,  Berlin already has too much living space. While the amount has drastically shrunk in the last five to ten years, and the population has been rising since the low points at the end of WWII and again in the early nineties, Berlin still has some of the lowest real-estate prices for a country capital in the world, and the city still houses  a million and a half less people than it had in 1900. 

And Berlin will shortly have a second unused airport: Tegel in the north is shutting down when Schönefeld , the first truly international airport in Berlin, finally gets finished in some two years as planned. 

That’s a long story in itself. Schönefeld has been a nimby fuck-fest. Years of delay due to environmental and noise concerns.

It already was one of Berlin’s three airports, the GDR airport for 40 years, but they have expanded it and given it the fancy new runways necessary to hand modern aircraft, and even hooked it up to the city’s train network, unlike the current Tegel which takes forever to get to on the wandering, thousand-stop bus.

Anyway…if they develop Tempelhof, and then they develop Tegel, many wonder if the city could absorb so much sudden square feet of housing and commercial space. A supply and demand thing, supposedly. I’m sure they’ll figure something out.

But for now it’s a dream. Kites flying, roller blades scratching, soccer ball bouncing, yuppies jogging, babies strolling and all over everywhere. On a summer day they can pack a few Germans in this space.

Thanks to the cold and slush I found it practically unpopulated. Only the crews for some concert were mad at work in one of the halls. A few kids and a couple of kites. Two or three strollers. A jogger or two.

Beautiful.

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About Andrew Flohr-Spence

Something about the sound and the word. Was a singer/bassist for five years, a German major for five, an English teacher in Germany for another five, then a journalism major in Denver for 5 more, and now I'm back in Berlin (for a while, I intend).
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One Response to ‘Trashy-hip’ Tempelhof Airport

  1. Drew says:

    Andrew: Love the photos. I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the words “nimby fuck-fest” in print before. Totally got the point across though. Keep writing, I’m interested to read about your adventures there.

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