National Geographic : 1937 Feb
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE is its extreme simplicity. One anticipates complexities which do not exist. The city is as unaffected and logical as the language spoken by its inhabitants. Before one can begin to comprehend what makes Berlin tick, preconceived ideas of capitals must be cast aside. Gradually, out of the confused outlines of the vast mass, emerges a recognizable pattern. CITY-DWELLING COWS AND PIGS Behold the anomaly of an urban agglom eration with a total population of some 4,220,000, a city which can boast one of the most highly perfected transportation systems in the world, with every conven ience contributed by science - and yet which contains within its limits the follow ing: Twenty thousand cows (providing a third of the milk supply), 30,000 pigs, 10,000 goats, 700,000 chickens, 180,000 rabbits, 5,800 people keeping bees, only three or four buildings that I could find as much as ten stories high, twelve windmills still func tioning, and more than 100,000 little gar dens, the harvests of which include such imposing yearly figures as 46,000 tons of potatoes and proportionate quantities of other vegetables and grains. Such items would appear fantastic to the dweller on narrow, rock-ribbed Manhattan. These little "Schreber Gartens" afford city workers easily accessible contact with the land which is so dear to the German heart; they promote bodily fitness through exercise, and minimize food cost. Beside each garden is a neat little house for storing equipment. Here centers the odd-hour and week-end life of a substantial number of families. During times of crisis, these wee shelters have even housed many who would otherwise have been roofless. The so-called "Schreber Garten" move ment, which has spread to most cities of Germany, was founded in 1864 by a phi lanthropist who named it in honor of Schreber, a famous physician of that day. The land is owned in some cases by the city, in others by the State, and is furnished to its users (together with implements and seed) at a nominal price. "Where'er you walk, cool gales shall fan the glade, Trees where you sit shall crowd into a shade... ." Trees and rivers . . . more rivers and more trees. Therein lies Berlin's greatest hold on the hearts of its dwellers. The two rivers, Havel and Spree (pro- nounced "Shpray"), with their eccentric twistings and turnings, form a network of waterways which makes it possible to reach many parts of the city by water. These small streams and their tributaries, connected by canals with the Elbe and the Oder, give communication for transport of freight by steamer and barge to the farthest corners of the land (Plates XII, XIII, XV). Berlin has, except for Duisburg, the larg est shipping tonnage of any inland city of Germany. More than five million tons of goods arrived at the port in 1935 and 1,300,000 tons were dispatched. Through the watery lanes, under grace fully arched bridges-of which Berlin has 1,006, even more than Venice itself!-glide long wooden barges, heavy-laden carriers of coal, building materials, petroleum, and an infinite variety of other products (page 133). Large numbers of fruit barges come in from the provinces, bringing apples, pears, and peaches in their holds. In some cases these loads are marketed directly from the barges, which find mooring at advantageous points within the town. The banks of the rivers are planted densely with trees. Rows of lindens or plane trees line the majority of the streets. The public parks are standing armies of trees in close formation, through which cut beguiling avenues and paths. The most numerous member of the tree family is the linden. Also in large numbers are found most of our familiar American trees, such as maple, elm, horse chestnut (much beloved by the German), oak, acacia, poplar, and birch. A census of trees standing in streets and squares alone-entirely exclusive of the parks-totals half a million. The Berliner's love of trees is so deep that in many cases, where city appropria tions have not provided the necessary funds, private citizens have paid for the planting of their own streets. THESE CHANGING TIMES As I walked through the streets of the Old City, I found myself humming a line from a Princeton Triangle Club play way back in the dim ages of the Wiley Pure Food Act: "Renovate, rejuvenate, and incidentally change the date," it ran. This jingle de scribes aptly the evolution taking place today in Berlin.