Monday, January 27, 2014

On the Wrong Side of the Tracks

During the Cold War even before the Berlin Wall went up there was a clear separation between the communist East and the capitalist West. Although in 2014 we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall Berliners still distinguish between the East and the West, keeping a wall in their heads.

A clear separation in East and West we also find in Cologne. The city founded as the Roman Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium in 38 before Christ is located on the left side of the Rhine river in the West whereas the newer part of the city on the right side in the East is called the Schäl Sick (Lower German Rhenish for squint i.e. wrong side).

Yesterday a contribution in the local Sunday newspaper Der Sonntag revealed that people living in the western parts of Freiburg feel like living on the Schäl Sick. As the topography shows they literately live on the wrong side of the tracks.

The map shows the railroad Frankfurt-Basel separating Freiburg in an eastern and western
 part nearly coinciding with a separated water supply (read below)(©Badenova)
When in the middle of the 19th century the railroad between Frankfurt and Basel was built Freiburg was an important place to be connected. However, at that time steam engines could only tackle moderate inclinations with the result that the city could not be reached and the railroad tracks passed it tangentially in the West. The so-called Lerch plan of 1852 shows the new train station well out in the West of the city boundaries. Once the space between the station and the city had been built up in the second half of the 19th century Freiburg continued expanding beyond the railroad tracks in the West. Small factories and their workers settled in these new parts of town while the old part with the Münster church, the museums, and the university located in the East remained the noble side. At the time of Mayor Winterer the new residential quarters Herdern and Wiehre housed professors, medical doctors, lawyers, business people, and rich retirees living in villas on the right side of the tracks.

Freiburg in 1852 (clipping): Below is the Münster church, up in the West the new train station.
In between a few houses along Bertoldstraße and the still existing Colombi-Schössle.
A direct connection between the city and the station, the Eisenbahnstraße, was built later.
The article in Der Sonntag pointed out that more than one hundred years later Freiburg still is a divided city. It is remarkable that there are no tourists in the West. Nobody is interested to visit the new living quarters Weingarten and Rieselfeld with their multi-story buildings where unemployment is higher than in the East and with their high percentage of inhabitants of migrant background. Fact is that Freiburg touching the Black Forest in the East can only grow in the West. Today only 88 400 people live in the East but already 125 500 people in the West considering themselves as the stepchildren of urban development. To give an example: for years the Westerners have been moaning about a ramshackle and therefore closed public swimming pool, the Westbad (sic!). Now they fear further trouble coming up with the construction and operation of new ice and a soccer stadiums causing noise, increased traffic and dirt. A letter to the editor commented the city planning of a new town district: The West not only is depraved, it is sacrificed.

Curiously enough there is even a separation in Freiburg's water supply. In the East soft water runs from the taps whereas in the West the water quality is middle hard. The newly edited city map now comes in two parts too: East and West.

Reader, next time you come to Freiburg go West.

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