Kreuzberg’s Main Artery – Berlin’s U1 line
Berlin’s U1 line runs east-west, from Warschauer Straße to Uhlandstraße, from Friedrichshain district to Charlottenburg. More than the half of its course U1 rides everything but U (that is underground) and the majority of its route leads through Kreuzberg district. That neighbourhood gets shaped by U1’s elevated railway trail to such an extent, that the interaction between train and district even inspired a musical to become written. Behind Potsdamer Platz daylight travelling is over and the metro disappears to accomplish its 8.8 km long ride towards its terminus in the City West.
For many people and not only tourists the scene of an orange-yellow train crossing Oberbaum Bridge belongs to the most picturesque Berlin motifs. Before passing Spree River in such a special manner first you have would to board the U1 train at Warschauer Straße. “Einsteigen bitte!”, says the announcement, which is German for “Please board now!”, something a couple of old men didn’t need to be told twice.
The U1 line is as famous as notorious for its buskers and also those elder boys don’t hesitate long and start their mini concert right after the closing doors have left the rainy November world outside. Immediately they go into the thick of things and bestow us a musical melange of guitar strumming and wild fiddle tweedling. With a well-measured donation of small money the passengers try to do the balancing act between doing nothing and risking an encore.
Historically seen the route of the U1 pretty much overlaps with the course of the U2, an underground which I photographically discovered a couple of months ago. Also the short underground number 4 and the U3 have contact with the U1 line at Wittenbergplatz, where you really have to be careful not to end up in the wrong train.
Population-wise the western districts of Berlin are more mixed and the U1 perfectly reflects that pretty well. While at the northern U2 stations drama queens, being all tarted up, and elite parents dominate the audience, at Kurfürstenstraße a small African girl frolics around with her elder brother running through a group of matrons being shrouded in thick scarfs and striding down the platform edge. In western Berlin is ethnically more interesting, but also extremes become more visible; for example social contrasts such as the three-some of homeless having found their very own terminus on a bench at Uhlandstraße, which is the terminus for U1 line as well.