Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
There it is: our favourite – since very much homebound – section of Berlin´s underground network is celebrating its 92nd birthday today.
On December 14, 1924 the municipal subterranean line CI (Linie C, now U6 and U7, forked at U-Bhf “Belle-Alliance-Straße”, today´s Mehringdamm, travelling further south towards Tempelhof as CII and south-east to Neukölln as CI), which up to that day terminated at “Gneisenaustraße”, gets extended by 0.84 km to a brand new station, U-Bhf “Hasenheide”.
Designed by the chief architect of Berlin´s underground, Alfred Grenander, it was colour-coded red: Grenander introduced the colour-coding system for U-Bahn stations to help passengers recognise their destination even when unable to see any name-plaques. This little trick is obviously something we still profit from today – as anyone trying not to miss their station while squeezed by what feels like thousands in a tightly packed carriage knows only too well.
Obviously, not the whole interior of the U-Bhf “Hasenheide” was plastered with red tiles: Grenander´s taste was too refined for that. He used them on the platform and as frames around the station name spelled on the walls. Interestingly, “Hasenheide” was the first underground station on this line to have its walls covered with tiles at all – what was otherwise Alfred #Grenander´s trademark had to be left out on most of the municipal Linie C stations due to the deep financial crisis raging in Germany and Berlin at the time. U-Bahnhof “Gneisenaustraße”, opened in April 1924, did not get its – admittedly very unattractive – green tiles until 1968!
Last but not least, we should also explain why you won´t find the U-Bahnhof “Hasenheide” on your trusted #BVG map today. In April 1933 the station was re-named “Kaiser-Friedrich-Platz” to indicate its actual position better: such was the name of the plaza on which it was built. And since the Nazis were not fond of the old name which stood for a place of simple fun and ribaldry (#Hasenheide, the street and the park, used to be home to beer gardens, amusement parks and, yes, plenty of illicit fornication), they ordered a change of name to one of more solemnity.
On January 1, 1939 another name replaced “Kaiser-Friedrich-Platz”: the station became “Gardepionierplatz” after the Guards Pioneer Regiment barracks in the nearby Blücherstraße (now the site of the Carl-von-Ossietzky School). The #U-Bahnhof did not become a fully demilitarised “Südstern” until 1947.
Another thing which changes a lot over the years is the location of the exits: originally placed at the ends of the platforms – exactly the same arrangement was implemented in “Gneisenaustraße” – they were moved to the middle of the platform in 1967. The old eastern exit was later used to build a lift, which made the task so much easier, of course, while the western exit vanished under the pavement.