Berlin the Shrinking City.... Specifically East Berlin
Uploaded by kat_112 on May 21, 2012
A shrinking city can loosely be defined as a densely populated urban area that has faced a population loss in large numbers for more than two years and displays a faltering economic momentum (Bontje, 2005). This phenomenon plagues many cities across Europe, but none so is more mentioned than Berlin in Germany. This report will look to explain the factors influencing how, particularly East Berlin became a shrinking city, including the industrial revolution and post-fordism and the consequences of a divided Berlin. It also explores Berlin as a shrinking city today and the borough of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg specifically and their restructuring programs.
Factors influencing how Berlin became a shrinking city
Industrial Revolution and Post-Fordism in Berlin
Bontje (2005) states that all cities experience rise and fall in population, employment, etc., and that decline only occurs for a short period of time. Bontje (2005) suggests that this process is cylindrical and will eventually make way for new growth. The industrial revolution and post fordism play a part in how East Berlin was designated the term of a ‘shrinking city’. The industrial revolution (which standardised production and mass employment) from the 18th to the 19th century, marked a time of great prosperity and unprecedented growth of economy, wealth, and population (Bontje, 2005). Post-fordism followed with technological advances and globalisation, which meant that instead of relying on production lines, focus was more so on providing specialised services. This meant that if a city was dependent on one means of production, it could go into decline. Post-fordism was a gradual adaptation for western capitalist societies, but for post-socialists societies it was a shock and something that happened only within a couple of years. Many post-socialist states faced massive urban decline, as evidenced in the Eastern Europe countries (Bontje, 2005).
With the reunification of Berlin in 1990, came an entirely unique situation faced by East Berlin. East Berlin (a post-socialist capital) was to merge with the European western capitalist of West Berlin (Bontje, 2005). Despite enormous efforts from the German Federal Government, integration of the west and east was/is more challenging than expected because East Berlin faces many problems from post-industrialisation including: high unemployment, lack of investors, loss of population (to West Berlin), unequal education levels to job provisions, and a massive reconstruction and renovation task (Bontje, 2005). This is all further evidence of decline, and that of a shrinking city.
Consequences of a divided Berlin