The demise of the decayed

Crumbling building, Berlin

Crumbling facades were once a common sight in areas of the former East Berlin. For decades under the GDR, lack of resources and little love for the city's old housing stock meant that already war-torn edifices were badly neglected.

Delapidated old apartment block, Berlin

Some change of heart appeared to take place in the early 1980s, when East German officials restored Prenzlauer Berg's Husemannstrasse back to its original glory. In the surrounding streets, however, the blighted architecture remained.

And then the Wall fell, and slowly but surely newly coveted 19th century apartment blocks were refurbished back into gorgeous, expensive shape.

Historic facade in disrepair, Berlin

The very few delapidated buildings that remain provide startling proof of just how rapidly the post-unification city has changed. The sight of a rotting facade is now a rarity in Berlin, and will become even rarer - although a walk through Mitte or Prenzlauer Berg should still reveal a few stately ruins.

War damaged building, East Berlin

The demise of the decayed shouldn't be mourned: despite the issues involved in the kind of price-hiking gentrification experienced throughout Berlin, buildings that aren't cared for simply fall apart.

But first-time visitors to the city who stumble across such sights such as this might want to reflect on the fact that, not so long ago, this is how much of the newly accessible East actually looked.

See also:
Writing on the wall - Berlin's old shop signs

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