Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
What a day! In 1837 somebody was very busy making Tempelhofer Vorstadt bigger, better and properly labelled.
So little time and so many new streets to name! On April 20th that year the following receive, if only temporary, monickers: Kleine Parkstrasse, Tempelhofer Strasse (until 1864; then Belle-Alliance-Strasse, Franz-Mehring-Strasse and today Mehringdamm), Platz am Halleschen Tor (since 7.04.1884 Blücherplatz) and Weinsberg is re-named into much more familiar sounding Bergmannstrasse (more about it on Bergmanstrasse Blog behind this link).
You do not know Kleine Parkstrasse? And no wonder. Unlike so many other magical places in Kreuzberg it is still there but no longer as an independent urban map entity. Plus access to it is slightly restricted. Which basically means that a healthy amount of chutzpah and an ability to smile up to your forehead is going to take you down its path pretty smoothly.
It is not going to take you far, though. Today this little street is nothing but a lane running parallel to Methfesselstrasse and into Viktoria Park. Or that is where it originally used to head for – from the opening between two houses in Kreuzbergstrasse (Numbers 77 and 78), right here:
right – albeit in a gently meandering manner – towards the Nationaldenkmal and then down the slope.
A closer look into the street presents a fantastic long-time-gone aura the place still has (and those must be the most narrow pavements in town):
The street was built to provide easy and comfortable access to the Villenkolonie (actually a summer house colony) on the side of Tempelhofer Berg or, as it was known by 1837, Kreuzberg. The houses that lined it are all gone, including a beautiful park restaurant of Viktoria Terassen, which used to stand where organically cultivated flowers and Kreuzberger grapevine are growing today to the glory and pecuniary profit of Hofgrün Berlin. If it had not been destroyed by the slave workers building an underground system of bunkers and tunnels under Kreuzberg for Organisation Todt, Kleine Parkstrasse today would be crossing the western end of the garden of the Kita am Park in Methfesselstrasse, take a graceful turn to the right more less where the park lane off Methfesselstrasse still does, and then slowly tumble down the hill towards Kreuzbergstrasse, only to vanish among the trees somewhere right before reaching it.
Kleine Parkstrasse might have been an official street with proper numbers and real-life residents but Berliner Adressbücher surprised me by not mentioning its name between 1838 (if the street was given the name in 1837 it makes no sense to start looking for it there before the next edition of the Adressbuch was published a year later) and 1915 at all. Neither did I find it under Parkstrasse (Kleine), Lichterfeldstrasse (now Methfesselstrasse, mentioned already on this blog here), Kreuzbergstrasse, Kreuzberg or Viktoria Park (those would be available possibilities). First in 1935 is there an entry for the street, albeit an indirect one: in order to find it, it´s necessary to know that the last owner of the Victoria Terrassen was one Fritz Lang.
The historic postcard presenting Viktoria Terrassen, with a picture taken somewhere around 1935-36 shows on the reverse the following address:
You see why it might be confusing…
Nevertheless, were Victoria Terrassen still there, it is quite certain where most of Kreuzbergers would be heading for on those warm summer evenings in July. Who knows? Maybe if on a July evening in the park you listen very very hard, you might still be able to hear the clinking of the glasses and the sound of the heels clicking on the cobble stones of Kleine Parkstrasse? And that without excessive intake of alcoholic beverages from Berlin´s finest breweries beforehand…