Geography – Berlin

Like the silly little Canadian I am, I thought I could learn about Germany’s capital city quickly. I always forget that the history of any city in Europe is about six hundred years longer than any city in North America, give or take a century. (Of course, off topic but important to mention: indigenous history goes back quite a bit further but our education system doesn’t really acknowledge that and it pisses me off) Nevertheless, here’s my best try:

What is it?

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 11.36.35 PM
First thing I saw on the official Berlin tourism page. I already love this city.

Berlin is the capital of Germany! (like I needed to tell you that) But it’s also a state. I keep needing to remind myself that no, states in Germany are not as big as provinces in Canada. I mean, can you imagine a city the size of Ontario?

Anyway, Berlin is located in northeastern Germany, kind of close to the Polish border, and is the second-most populous city in the European Union. So huge.

It pitches itself as being known for its “arts scene, nightlife, and modern architecture” I’ll add to that, tolerance. It keeps popping up when I search Berlin.

A Few (of many) Noteworthy Places:

A (very) abbreviated history of Berlin

1237map400
A map of baby Berlin! Found here: http://people.umass.edu/latour/Germany/ljennings/1237Map400.jpg

Berlin was built in the 13th century (or maybe earlier) as a trading post on the banks of the river Spree. It was the capital of the Prussian and German Empire. Through the 17th-19th centuries, Berlin became a centre of enlightenment and tolerance, accepting numerous immigrants and refugees. During the Industrial revolution, it became the most populated city in Germany.  In 1918, under the Weimar Republic, Berlin was demoted from capital city, but that wasn’t going to stop it. By the 1920s, Berlin had really taken off as a prosperous and busy city for the sciences and the arts, but by the 1930s, the economy was suffering and the Nazis came into power, WWII began, and the Jewish population was decimated.

In 1945, Berlin was taken by the Russian army – which was, I hear, a violent and traumatic affair . Germany, and therefore Berlin, were divided. In 1949 Berlin was split in half between the Eastern Soviet communists, and the Western Allied democrats, a split which would be made physical by the Berlin wall.

map1
A map from 1988, depicting West Berlin as a gaping hole. Really cool (and slightly disturbing) illustration of the immense political division. Found at http://360.here.com/2014/11/06/fall-wall-missing-pieces/

After the fall of the wall, Berlin was reinstated as the capital of a reunified Germany. And they all lived happily ever after!

Well. That’s probably not 100% true. But this website, which contains a slightly less-abbreviated history of Berlin, certainly seems to think so. This one has an even-less-abbreviated history, although it’s still pretty damn short.

A Few (of many) Notable Events

And the list. Goes. On. This was a dangerous undertaking – I could go on for DAYS about Berlin! I’ve already gone longer than I planned. Almost makes me wish I was going on exchange in Germany. (Oh wait, I AM! Not to Berlin though…)

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