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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Berlin's Bahns & Buses: Westhafen

S- & U-Bahnhof Westhafen isn't exactly one of Berlin's iconic stations. It's perhaps best known as one of the stops you're likely to use when going to the Ausländerbehörde, an experience most folks would like to forget. Westhafen's on the border of Wedding and Moabit, and in the middle of a major industrial zone: It's in the shadow of a big coal power plant, and next to Berlin's big port, Westhafen, on the Spree River.

But it's got some things going for it, aside from the opportunity to go up on a neighboring bridge and watch big machines make mincemeat of scrap metal over at the port. For one thing, it's right next to one of the coolest Kleingartenkolonies in town, a narrow row of cottages and gardens surrounded on both sides by railroad tracks and utter industrialization. And then there's the art, mostly comprised of letters on tiles in the station. At first, the letters seem to be random. But then one realizes that they tell a story of Heinrich Heine and how he lost his name when he fled to France. The rest of the letters -- in a typeface rejected by the Nazis -- spell out the Declaration of Human Rights. The project was done by artists Françoise Schein and Barbara Reiter in 2000, and the story is nicely told in this video.

Westhafen's Kleingartenkolonie, sandwiched between tracks and tracks.

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