Bridges of Berlin: Anhalter Steg

With each bridge that I discover and photograph in Berlin I think that I have pinpointed my favourite one, but then I go out on my next adventure and find another treasure and change my mind. This weekend was a veritable treasure chest as far as bridge hunting  was concerned and if it weren’t for the temperature hovering at -12C and -14C I honestly would have sat on the grass and gazed. This being the despicable cold wave nicknamed The Beast from The East (due to the winds coming from Eastern Europe and Siberia), which I hope is about to end, I shot as much as I could in as little time possible before my hands froze permanently onto the camera.

Speaking of cameras and cold weather – I have had some questions regarding the Fujifilm camera that I use and exposure to sub-zero temperatures. The camera is designed to withstand up to -40C according to the manufacturer. I personally would not want to test that theory, but I seriously have my doubts it would function properly. I had no performance problems with the body itself at -12C but what I did notice was the battery drains much faster in cold temperatures, so this is not the time to leave home without those extra batteries!

Anhalter Steg – past and present looking into the future ©MTHerzog

Anyway, back to my bridge crusade… the first one on the list was the Anhalter Steg in Kreuzberg. This area is fascinating in general, and if you visit the Anhalter Bahnhof (one of the underground stations, but the ruins of the old train station still stand aboveground), there is a sense of historical nostalgia that sets the stage for an urban exploration that spans from the Prussian glory of the 1800s to modern Germany leading the way in technology.

The Berlin S-Bahn ©MTHerzog

The name Anhalter Steg is misleading because in effect there are two bridges in play. The original bridge which that crosses over the Landwehrkanal dates back to 1841 and is part of the train route that linked the northern kingdoms of Saxony, and the dukedoms of Anhalt, including Berlin and Riesa. Constructed by the Berlin-Anhaltische Eisenbach Gesellschaft, Berlin-Magdeburg-Leipzig route transformed Berlin in 1840 into the first ever railway hub of Germany.

The original steel arched bridge was completely destroyed in WWII and remained in ruins until 1980 for lack of funds. It was only when DaimerChrysler Real Estate Inc. offered to fund the reconstruction of the bridge in exchange for permission to construct a second bridge above it (for the tram system) and Potsdamer Platz that the Anhalter Steg became viable again. Designed by Benedict Tonon, the lower Anhalter Steg is a footbridge that links the Technical Museum to the other side of the Landwehrkanal, and I can’t think of a more fitting configuration in this area to depict the technical evolution of Germany.

Parking shortage ©MTHerzog

When you step out of the car, you will first stare up at a single rotor blade of a wind mill that seems haphazardly planted into the ground. The the next thing that caught my eye was the airplane on top of the museum that seems to have fallen out of the sky and landed there by accident. Trust German engineering to keep it safe in place – after all, it wouldn’t be the Technical Museum if it wobbled out out of place!


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