A decision has finally been made about the future of most of the Tempelhof airport site in Berlin – it’s to be turned into a park. (See “Farewell Flight” from October 10, 2008)
The airport, which served as a lifeline for West Berlin during the Soviet blockade, closed last month after more than 80 years’ service.
The city government says it will spend 61 million euros (£51 million / $79 million) converting the airport into a leisure area about the size of New York’s Central Park.
A spokesman for the Berlin government, Marko Rosteck, said the architecturally important limestone terminal building would be preserved. A wide variety of proposals for its use were still being considered.
“We’re very fortunate to have a giant patch of green in the heart of the city just waiting to be developed,” said Rosteck. Berlin hopes to host an international garden exhibition in 2017, attracting up to 3.5 million tourists.
“It will make Berlin, which is already one of the greenest capitals in Europe, even greener,” Rosteck added.
by Andy Moreton
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Campaigners in Berlin seem to have failed in their final attempt to prevent the closure of the city’s Tempelhof airport, planned for October.
A new international hub is under construction at the edge of the city, but Tempelhof supporters argue that the airfield deserves to stay open because of its historic significance and its proximity to the centre of Berlin (it’s only about a 20-minute drive from the Brandenburg Gate).
The airport opened in the 1920s and was then expanded by the Nazis with the construction of a huge terminal building. It became a symbol of West Berlin’s resistance to the Soviet blockade during the Cold War: a non-stop airlift kept the city going with supplies of food and fuel during 1948 and 1949.
But the fall of the Berlin Wall and unification spelled the beginning of the end for Tempelhof. By 2007, its traffic was down to just 350,000 passengers - a small percentage of the 20 million who use Berlin’s three airports. Most of the passengers are business travellers on quick flights around Germany or to nearby Belgium.
A recent referendum failed to produce the necessary support to prevent it from being closed by the city authorities.
The airfield has been used as a location for many movies, including one of the Indiana Jones series. And the German news magazine, Der Spiegel, is reporting that a film studio based just outside Berlin has expressed an interest in transforming the airport into a world-class film location. Two of the massive aircraft hangers could be used for workshops while another could be used to build film sets.
by Andy Moreton