According to the Office for Statistics in Berlin and Brandenburg, there are around 9,950 Straßen (streets) in Berlin, spread over 96 districts and totalling around 5,400km. From 1st January 2015, and beginning with the main innercity area within the Ringbahn, I will start walking them.
Some may think that embarking on such an ambitious project is somewhat foolhardy. But for me it’s the logical conclusion of my long-held conviction – expressed to some extent in my essay here – that the only real way to understand a large, unwieldy metropolis like Berlin is by exploring it at street level.
Having already confirmed this theory by walking around Berlin’s Ringbahn and the entire 160-km Berlin Wall Trail last year, my plan is to open myself up to the city in a more comprehensive way. En route, I plan to record as many insights and interactions as I can (in the shape of texts, images and films) and eventually compile them into some kind of published work that attempts to ‘take the city’s temperature’.*
In terms of the actual walking, there will be no real guiding structure. In keeping with my own preference for aleatory exploration, I will simply walk whatever streets I feel like on any given day and at any given time, whether Dahlem at dawn or Marzahn at midnight, crossing each street off my map as I go. My physical progress will be published on the Google Map above (click once to make the map interactive), and I will continue to post selected visual notes/short texts below.
As much as I am fond of solitary urban hiking, I am equally happy to have company on my walks. If you’d like to join me at any point, or invite me round for a restorative cup of tea, drop a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul Sullivan (STB Editor)