Accompanying The Shadowboxing Woman

mitte

On Mitte

The borough of Mitte has changed almost beyond recognition since the early 1990s, when the novel is set. Street names have changed, galleries and cafés opened up anywhere and everywhere, and the renovation process just beginning in the book is now almost finished. The scaffolding is still there, but now new buildings are going up in the gaps and former green spaces. Most of the people who had to move out for renovations never came back, and the area is now populated by tourists and the wealthy middle class.

It’s a success story of sorts – but one with many critics. Like any gentification process, this one has begun to devour its own children. The artists and creative types who once made the area attractive – like Mirca in the novel – can no longer afford the rents. The once ubiquitous cafés have made way for high-end fashion stores. And as big business moves in, Mitte is emptying out.

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Mitte

Mitte

Mitte

Otherwise all is quiet, quiet as a stone. Only the sound of my footsteps echoes off the splintering glazed tiles of the entrance area.

Photo: Jason Danziger


Mitte

Mitte

Mitte

Under dripping scaffolding, where the shops beckon with reductions announced in green and orange, along the closely embracing house fronts in the narrow alleys of Sophienstrasse and Gipsstrasse, their decay rendering them far more vulnerable with their spindly shapes than the stout Prussian blocks on the wider streets.

Photo: Jason Danziger


Mitte

Mitte

Mitte

They’ve added a number code to the lock on the front door but it must have been cracked. The keypad is hanging on loose wires, ripped from its anchoring next to the door handle.

Photo: Katy Derbyshire


Mitte

Mitte

Mitte

Armed with a long hooked pole, I plan to get rid of the past week’s trash. Since the last dustmen turned up here in the summer and took away the old iron trashcans, this has been a procedure that calls for special tools and a degree of dexterity not to be underestimated.

Photo: Jason Danziger