Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
The begining of September was traditionally the time of the so called Herbstparade – autumn military parade which would be a Prussian equivalent of Trooping The Colours. And although the parade itself took place not in Kreuzberg but on Tempelhofer Feld (later Tempelhof Airport and now a brilliant new park), the troops presenting themselves during the event marched up and down Friedrichstrasse, around Belle-Alliance-Platz (today Mehringplatz) and then along the whole length of Belle-Alliance-Strasse (or Mehringdamm).
The legend has it that the Kaiser, who covered most of the distance in the royal coach, used to have his horse wait for him on the corner of Belle-Alliance-Strasse, Methfessel- (then Lichtenfelder Strasse) and Kreuzbergstrasse and mounted it by stepping onto a large boulder placed there for the very purpose (or perhaps not – legends tends to be imprecise). Therefore, the piece of rock received the name of Kaiserstein – Kaiser´s stone.
When in 1874 Hofbaurat Klingenberg´s new property, an apartment house on the very same corner was finished, he called it and the elegant restaurant on its ground floor “Zum Kaiserstein”. The history of this place is worth telling separately for it is long, twisted and full of necessary drama so we will leave it here only to return to it still this week.
So to September 2nd.
Kaiser Wilhelm I attends the annual Herbstparade on Tempelhofer Feld to inspect his faithful and numerous troops. Some of the troops arrived from as far as Potsdam but many came from today´s Kreuzberg: 1. Garde Regiment Dragonen (1st Cavalry Regiment) from the barracks in Belle-Alliance-Strasse with the so called “Dragonenburg” (today Finanzamt Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg), 2. Garde Regiment Dragoner from their garrison in Schleiermacherstrasse (today what´s left of the original stables is used as ateliers, the rest of the area houses a kindergarten and a great primary school), 2. Kaiser-Franz-Garde-Grenadier-Regiment from Blücherstrasse (today completely gone and replaced by the Carl-von-Osiecky Schule) and the Königin-Augusta-Garde-Grenadier-Regiment from the garrison between Friesenstrasse and Golßener Strasse (today police station and police garages).
The troops marching up Belle-Alliance-Strasse and Kaiser´s arrival at “Kaiserstein” to get on his horse and travel towards the parade field like a real Prussian (as opposed to travelling by coach which was for sissies and the ladies) are watched by the usual thousands of curious citizens.
Since Kaiser would be passing Kreuzberg on the above mentioned occasion until the last parade in September 1913, there is no need to mention it again and we can focus on another, earlier event.
On September 2, 1852 the old Hallische Kommunikation (sometimes written Hallesche Communication as well), a road running along the old city walls from Wassertor (the city gate at today´s Wassertorplatz) to Hallesches Tor (then another city gate, today an U-Bahn station) receives the name of Hellweg.
From that moment on the Imperial-Continental-Gas-Association which established itself in Berlin in 1826 at Vor dem Halleschen Thore (the original name of the street) is going to be registered in address books for the city of Berlin at Hellweg 8.
On October 10, 1868 the street will undergo another linguistic metamorphosis and will emerge as what we know and travel along today as Gitschiner Strasse.
You can find some additional information about Hellweg/Gitschiner Strasse on my blog here – for example, where to find a Magistratssregenchirm (a borough council umbrella) in Kreuzberg.