Saturday, March 15, 2014

Is Berlin Still Cool?

During the last decade, Berlin has experienced a sort of cultural renaissance. With its 24-hour nightlife, vibrant music scene, thriving arts community, and relatively cheap housing, Berlin is arguably Europe's most affordable, if not coolest city.

But popularity can be a double-edged sword. Berlin's soaring housing costs are beginning to drive out many of the people that have made the city so attractive. Berlin's affordable housing is slowly giving way to luxury apartments, short-term holiday rentals, and high-priced hotels. For many, Berlin's image as affordable (and cool) seems more image than reality these days.  

The Süddeustche Zeitung (South German Newspaper), located in Berlin's rival city of Munich, cheerfully noted that Berlin's popularity bubble had burst, and even Berlin's Tagesspiegel (Daily Mirror) commented that Berlin is waning and may no longer be cool. As the Süddeustche Zeitung put it, "Berlin is Over."

For some Berliner's, this may be good news. Many Berliner's have taken their city's popularity badly, responding to the influx of visitors and new residents with frustration and anger. In some neighborhoods, such as Kreuzberg, this anti-newcomer sentiment has led to a wave of touristenhass (tourist hate). Signs proclaiming, "Berlin Doesn't Love You" are as common as the broken beers bottles you encounter on the street. So while the Berlin tourist industry may lament Berlin's loss of cool, many residents may feel a sense of relief.

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