Monday, September 14, 2015

Living in History

Corner of Karl-Marx-Allee and Proskauer Str.
The Place Where I Lived


View of Fernsehturm
from Karl-Marx-Allee
"You'll be living in history." That's what the owner said as he handed me the keys to the apartment I'd rented in Berlin. I'd found the apartment through Airbnb.com, a website to list, find, and rent lodging. The listing and photos seemed perfect: a recently remodeled one bedroom apartment located in Friedrichshain, and near public transport, restaurants and shops. More importantly, the apartment was in an historic building on Karl-Marx-Allee, a street dubbed the "first socialist street" in Germany. I'd seen these buildings hundreds of times, and this was my opportunity to stay in one. 

View of Living Room and Dining Area
Constructed in 1952, the buildings on Karl-Marx-Allee were designed in a Stalinist style and adorned with decorative tiles. They were built for the socialist workers and became one of East Germany's architectural showcases. However, following German reunification, the street and buildings were abandoned and fell into disrepair. Over the last 10 years, the buildings have been rediscovered and become tr├Ęs chic among young Berliners. 

Living Room

The apartment was exactly as described. It was clean, modern, and fully-equipped (great Internet connection). It met all my needs. However, 'living in history' did have a few downsides. First, the walls were paper thin. You could hear the 'intimate' lives of your neighbors and smell their annoying cigarette smoke as it wafted through the walls. And even though the apartment was listed as quiet, it wasn't. Construction work on neighboring buildings would commence promptly at 6:00 AM Monday through Saturday. I'm an early riser, but hammers and drills are too much at 6:00 AM. Nevertheless, I must admit, I did enjoy living in a bit of history. 

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