Berlin: New and Old

The first week of April I took a two day trip to Berlin. Here are some more pictures from that trip. This is a walk I took the last day I was there. We'll start out at the Tiergarten and go along the main wide street (first it is 17 Juni Strasse) that passes through the Brandenburg Gate and becomes Unter der Linden and finally ends up at the Alexanderplatz. This main avenue was cut in half when the city was divided. West of the Brandenburg gate was the West and east of the gate was the East. The twain finally met and we can now make the walk.

This morning we'll be walking east towards the sun. The rounded top building is the dome of the Reichstag, and just below the sun you can barely see the TV tower at the Alexanderplatz. A foggy morning in Berlin Town.

Here's a shot down one of the many waterways in the Tiergarten. Just recently a "Save The Tiergarten" committee organized so as to block Berlin's big summer craziness, the "Love Parade". The Love Parade is a rowdy festival of millions of ravers who among other things regularly trash the Tiergarten. It's right next to the avenue and people were doing many not-very-polite and certainly not-very-German things in the park. Apparently not-this-year.

On one of the bridges over the Spree river near the avenue we see a typical Old/New Berlin view as the Chimeric city changes form.

Here is the Reichstag, just north and west of the Brandenburg Gate. Wait a minute! A UFO has just landed on top! Oh, my mistake, it's just the new dome of the Reichstag. The dome looks unfinished from this angle, but actually it is a beautiful modern glass and steel design up close. Again, the Old and the New in stark contrast.

After a quick elevator ride to the top of the Reichstag, here is a view back west towards the Tiergarten and the Obelisk with its Winged Victory statue. She is terribly reminiscent of the Winged Victory of Samathace at the top of the entry stairs in the Louvre, but much, much, much bigger.

And here is the new dome up close. The top is open and a mirrored, inverted, hollow hyperbolic paraboloid column essentially funnels the rain into a central drain while the light from the dome is directed downward through a glass floor into the central meeting chamber of the Reichstag.

There are two spiral walkways (one up, one down, so German) and here is a view from the walkway down towards the glass of the skylight.

Another view of the interesting engineering of the dome. As you can tell, I was quite taken with this piece of architecture.

On the other hand side, there are still elements for traditionalists to appreciate.

Ceci n'pas une Brandenburg Gate. Yes folks, that's the Brandenburg Gate covered in life sized Brandenburg Gate patterned cloth! They are working on it right now and I suppose they thought that this might fool the tourists? Don't ask. It's art.

Here we are on Unter der Linden and looking at the Crown Prince's Palace which now houses a musem. It is next door to the Staatsoper, the opera house in the former east. While I was in Berlin, Paolo took me to a performance of Prokofiev's Ballet Romeo and Juliet chorographed and staged in a modern way. The two Italian families were still feuding, but since it was a 20th century feud they were Mafiosi and the Prince was the Godfather, who rather than appearing on a horse came onstage in a big black 30's limo. It sounds a bit silly, but it was all actually quite moving.

Turning around and looking north, we are at Museum Island. Here in the buildings just ahead stand the Gates of Babylon. Yes, the actual Gates of Babylon. For nearly 50 years in East Germany and now accessible to the world.

Also on museum island is the massive Berlin Dom, the central church of Berlin. In the background is the TV tower at the Alexanderplatz.

As we cross the bridge, decorated with these sea creatures, today's walking tour is at an end. Next week, the Neuestaadt Dresden.

The first couple of days of this week I spent in Berlin. It's just a two hour train ride, so the distance is similar to the distance from South Bend to Chicago on the South Shore Line train. I went up to consult at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. One of the groups there is doing research using postural sway as a measure and so we have common interests.

Also, a friend and colleague Paolo Ghisletta is now at the MPI Berlin. Paolo is another student of John Nesselroade's and is doing methodological work at the Institute.

Paolo took me to an old 19th century bunker north of the city where we could look out over the town. At the top of the bunker is an abstract statue that for me symbolizes the new hope of Berlin.

Berlin is a contrast of old and new. So much is being built and it is built on the ruin of the aftermath of the war. Here is the Memorial Church which was left in its bombed state and alongside it a memorial building. This church is to remember, "Never again".

Again here is a mix of old and new. The foreground buildings were just completed this spring and in the background is the famous Zoological Gardens Train Station.

Again the old and the new. Here is the Rathaus, the Town Hall with the Alexanderplatz TV tower in the background. This is in the former East Berlin and many thought that the tower was an intelligence gathering site as well as a broadcasting site.

Here we are in the former West again looking down the river at the Daimler-Chrysler headquarters. This is taken from near where Paolo lives.

At the Max Planck Institute they have a new postural sway measurement device. The platform measures the sway of someone standing on it and the small wooden rectangle can be forced to move under computer control. This means that posture can be perturbed while subjects are doing various tasks.

Here is a typical subject in the experiment. He doesn't seem to be falling over yet. Make the perturbations bigger so that he really sways!

Two of the researchers who are working on this project are Albina Bondar and Michael Rapp. In the background you see a track where people can walk while wearing conductive shoes. A computer can then record the timing of each step.

That's all of Berlin for now.