When it comes to hunting down the bridges of Berlin, doing the research beforehand really pays off. So far there has only been one bridge that I stumbled upon quite by accident and without prior research. Doing things that way complicates matters later on when I sit down to write the blog, because I have to retrace my steps with a fine toothed comb over Google Maps and figure out exactly where I was. Case in point the Aalemannkanalbrücke. As it turns out, many of the interesting bridges are accessible by foot or bike, and it takes a lot of patience to find them and when you do, the next challenge is to find a decent angle to shoot from. But all this is moot when it comes to the Siemenssteg because it was all there – car access, endless angles to shoot from, a pedestrian bridge with history, and with a stroke of luck, decent lighting to go with it as well.
When I first laid eyes on this peculiar bridge, my initial thoughts were how to photograph it without the power station in the background. Then I realised that without the power station there would be no story.
Constructed in 1899 by the same group that built the power plant, the pedestrian bridge’s primary function was to facilitate the set-up and delivery of electricity to the Charlottenburg area. The bridge was only named in 1902 after the legendary industrialist Werner von Siemens who lived closed to the bridge at the time. Now if you are an avid cyclist in Berlin, which I am not, there is a picturesque route from the historical part of old Spandau that begins along the Havel River and continues all the way down to Charlottenburg along the Landwehrkanal. There are some parts where you would probably have to push your bike, but in general it is an interesting stretch that gives you an impression of Berlin at the turn of the century (roughly between 1880 – 1900).
These steel and wood bridge aesthetic took some time to get used to, but they do indeed have their charm and reflect the core of Berlin. The foundation is historical, rooted in strong Prussian tradition and hard work. The texture of the wood, for most of the pedestrian bridges, is an affinity to nature that you see all over the city. This may be one of the main hubs of Europe, but you are never far away from a forest or river here in Berlin. And the steel of course, is the undeniable ability of the city to withstand change and be resilient in spite of all the hardships it has had to endure.
The additional bonus to photographing this bridge was the frozen canal beneath it. The sky was gorgeously clear and I had a clear shot of everything, but the floating ice on which the swans were stuck on reminded me very much of a kaleidoscope.
Click HERE for the article with the full set of photographs