German Lessons

Evening Mood on the Schlachtensee by Walter Leistikow, 1895. The way Berliners flock to the woods and lakes to the west of their city contrasts with our relative neglect of such treasures as Ruislip Woods

Evening Mood on the Schlachtensee by Walter Leistikow, 1895. The way Berliners flock to the woods and lakes to the west of their city contrasts with our relative neglect of such treasures as Ruislip Woods

The houses of London and its suburbs made a big impression on Germans, largely through  Herman Muthesius, the author of Das Englische Haus , later employer of the influential Berlin city planner Martin Wagner. But it was a two-way exchange. Greater London which after 1965 became the single governing authority swallowing Middlesex whole appears to have been inspired by the creation of Greater Berlin in 1920 which itself swallowed what had previously been seven neighbouring towns. Berlin also influenced the rebranding of London Transport in the 1930s by its managing director Frank Pick with architect Charles Holden followed their research tour of Northern Europe by the pair in 1930 which took in Holland Denmark and Germany. If 19th and 20th century London struck visitors as an example of how to combine buildings and nature, 21st century Berlin has now overtaken it, with its extensive greenery and woodland linked everywhere by cycleways. The debate over the future of the disused Tempelhof airport foreshadows that over the future of a possibly-abandoned Heathrow. The biggest  difference between the two cities: just as London itself dominates the rest of the country, the centre overshadows the suburbs and makes them appear mean and second rate. Greater Berlin by contrast feels like a partnership of equals.

A cyclepath beside what was Albert Speer's East West axis through Berlin's Tiergarten

A cyclepath beside what was Albert Speer’s East West axis through Berlin’s Tiergarten

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