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Hackescher Markt and Hofe, Berlin: Where Gumbo Was #72

1280px-Berlin_-_Biergärten_Hackescher_Markt_+_S-BahnhofThe Gumbo Guessers have done their best with this week's puzzle, but it has defied solution, although Jonathan L got the right city. It's Berlin, alright, a city with two rail transit systems (U-Bahn and S-Bahn) and where poor maintenance caused a lengthy shutdown and service reductions on the S-Bahn just a few years ago.




This particular station is the 1882 station at the Hackescher Markt, named for the Prussian nobleman who laid out the market square, which still hosts a twice-weekly market. The pictdures above show outside and inside views, and the square as it looked in 1871. The station hasn't always gone by that name; when it was built, it was called Borse, for the nearby stock exchange, and during the Cold War, it went by Marx-Engels-Platz.


As staid as the stock market might seem, the neighborhood's early-days character was artistic and bohemian, settled as the city expanded by a large number of Jews and exiled French Huguenots. The Jewish community centered around Oranienbergerstrasse, next to the station;  Germany's largest synagogue was built there in 1866.



But the big attraction near the station today is the restored Hackescher Hofe, a series of buildings arranged around eight interconnected courtyards. They were originally built around the beginning of the 20th century, with Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) touches in the design and in the decor, including varied tiles designed by architect August Endell.


The buildings mixed residential space, entertainment and restaurants, as well as space used by designers and craftspeople and a department store. Rooms were rented out to organizations as well, such as an Expressionist poets association, a Jewish girls' club, and for several years in the 1920s, the headquarters of the German Communist Party and its youth organization. A different sort of maybe-political occupant has a sign there today, with a puzzling mix of things to teach...




After 1933, when the Jewish owner of the buildings was forced into exile, the Nazis seized it; it was only returned to the family in 1993. For a while in the 1940s and 1950s, it was part of a Soviet military headquarters. Since 1996 extensive restoration and renovation have turned it into a center of entertainment, gtalleries, boutiques  and nightlife, as well as for creative enterprises in the arts and fashion.








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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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