Wilmersdorf, a case of urban renewal

Berlin, this fantastic city, but why bother showing an illusion of perfection, when the flawed reality is just so much more interesting.

A classic Fiat old-timer, the Italian family car of yesteryear
A classic Fiat old-timer, the Italian family car of yesteryear

Although it’s sometimes rather difficult to believe, the borough of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf in central Berlin is actually one of the city’s more affluent areas, and escaped some of the total destruction suffered by large areas in the east of the city at the end of the second world war.

The Ku’damm, a long boulevard, lined with prestigious shops, hotels and restaurants, considered by many to be Berlin’s equivalent of the Champs-Élysées, is central to the district.

The nail studio with "we've moved" posted in the window, and who can blame them?
The nail studio with “we’ve moved” posted in the window, and who can blame them?

But all that glitters is not gold, and just a short walk away from all this luxury, the signs of economic hardship can often be seen in other, less illustrious neighbourhoods in the district.

An intriguing shop window display for these times
An intriguing shop window display for these times

Because all this wealth means only one thing: an aged population, which probably accounts for the high density of pharmacies in the area, often 4 or 5 in the same street, all vying for the same business, and also the high number of second-hand shops, all making a living redistributing the possessions of the recently departed, of which there seems an almost inexhaustible supply.

What was modern in the 60s and 70s looks increasingly dilapidated and tatty half a century on
What was modern in the 60s and 70s looks increasingly dilapidated and tatty half a century on

And an aged population tends to stay at home, on not go out partying at every possible opportunity, or spend its money on luxuries.

Yes, the area is rather quiet, and sometimes rather rundown as businesses often struggle to remain economically viable.

The home of the local fire brigade
The home of the local fire brigade

It’s not all bad news however, because all this unexpected deprivation does make for a very texture-rich and interesting street photography location.

 
Blog » Wilmersdorf, a case of urban renewal
© Andrew James Kirkwood – 2020

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