BERLIN IN BLACK-AND-WHITE: BAHNHOF ALEXANDERPLATZ

Entrance to U-Bahnhof Alexanderplatz photographed by a brilliant Berlin photographer, Willy Pragher, 12 March 1932. (image from the Willy Pragher Estate at Staatsarchiv Freiburg in Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, W 134 Nr. 000236).

The picture was taken two years after a massive refurbishment of the station: originally serving only Linie A (today’s U2), it was expanded to accommodate two further lines now known as U5 and U8. Line U5, originally Linie E, opened in December 1930 – almost exactly eight months after Linie D (also known as Gesundbrunnen-Neukölln-Linie, or GN-Linie).

The new underground station, designed by Peter Behrens and Alfred Grenander, also included a stump of a tunnel for another, long-planned but sadly never-realised U-Bahn line to Weißensee (although the project might be resurrected soon). Its Alexanderplatz platform was built next to that of Linie E/U5. The tunnel was later used as a depot for U-Bahn trains and later still parts of it served as an extention of a massive air-raid shelter built by the Nazis under Alexanderplatz during the war.

But on that sunny day in early March 1932, when Willy Pragher stood there with his camera waiting for the light and the shadows do their magic, the latter seemed both unlikely, unwished for and impossible.