Once upon a time – in the late 19th century – the south-easterly district of Oberschöneweide, was one of Europe’s major industrial centres.
Thanks largely to the founding there of electrical company AEG (Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft), founded by Emil Rathenau, the area became a mini-Elektropolis, home to Germany’s first three-phase electric power station (Kraftwerk Oberspree), the Kabelwerk Oberspree (a vast cable-manufacturing plant) and theAEG-TRO transformer factory, which supplied to power plants and companies across the globe.
All of this prominent activity ceased after the war, and by the end of the GDR had completely collapsed. Alighting at S-Bahn at Schöneweide, I traversed part of this former industrial nexus to find mostly deserted building sites, dilapidated structures and the occasional modern electrical plant, humming ominously to itself in the sunshine.
Some of the old infrastructure architecture remains. The remnants of the bombed and burned Kabelwerk is still an erstwhile haunt for local and visiting urbexers, and though Hans Heinrich Müller’s striking Altes Kraftwerk Rummelsburg further north is today mostly accessible only to film and photography crews, the mighty chimneys of the mighty Heizkraftwerk Klingenberg still pour out thick white smoke for the whole city to see (courtesy of contemporary owners Vattenfall).
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