Auguststrasse, Berlin-Mitte

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The Auguststrasse is located in the heart of Berlin Mitte – Berlin’s old city centre.It stretches from Oranienburger Strasse all the way across Mitte to Kleine Rosenthaler Strasse.

Originally, the street was close to the Berlin Customs Wall – not an attractive place to live. So this might explain, why the street was first named Armesünder Gasse (Poor Sinners’ Lane) (1708–1723), then Armen Gasse (Lane of the Poor) (1723–1739) and then Hospitalstraße (Hospital Street, 1739–1833). Finally the street ‘made it’ when it was then named Auguststrasse after Prince Augustus of Prussia in 1863.

Around the mid 19th century many Jewish families moved here. The small houses were replaced by larger apartment houses and the Jewish Girls’ School and the Jewish Hospital were built. Many Stolpersteine (Stumbling Blocks) remind people passing by of the Jewish community that used to live here before the Holocaust.

During the Berlin Wall era the Auguststrasse was ‘forgotten’ by the East Berlin government. All across East Berlin neighbourhoods were restructured – or actually torn down and replaced by high rise apartment buildings. And it was just a matter of time when the ‘Scheunenviertel’ would be torn down. The houses of Auguststrasse were partly empty, partly kaput.

Photo of Auguststrasse Berlin-Mitte

View down Auguststrasse Berlin-Mitte towards Tacheles – Photo: nuBerlin.com

Before and after the Berlin Wall came down the area attracted squatters. Punks, artists and musicians moved into the run down houses of Auguststrasse and Tuchholskistrasse. This may explain why during the 1990ies Auguststrasse became a hotspot for artists and musicians. Basically the whole area between Tacheles on Oranienburger Strasse, Ackerstrasse, Tuchholskistrasse and Rosenthaler Platz became a large playground for free minds from all over the world.

Today at least the high density of galleries and cafés is one remaining detail of that time. On some evenings one can basically walk down Auguststrasse from one gallery to another and pop into openings. The KW (Kunst-Werke Auguststrasse 69, kw-berlin.de/en) became one important and popular corner stone of Auguststrasse’s today art scene.