Welcome to the tour of Berlin's Stammstrecke. Berlin's U-Bahn (Unterpflasterbahn) is the fifth oldest underground railway network worldwide. And like in many other places around the world, some of its eldest sections are not subterranean – as the name would suggest – but elevated.
This tour is the first of two journeys telling the story of Berlin’s first “elevated U-Bahn line” known as Hochbahn Stammstrecke and built by Siemens & Halske at the end of the 19th century. It opened for public service on February 18, 1902.
The tour tells the story of the oldest section of that line, the Östliche Stammstrecke (the Eastern Stem Line) built between 1896 and 1902 as both a new public traffic service and a test of the project’s viability.
It begins at the station “Warschauer Straße” in Friedrichshain and continues down Oberbaumbrücke, an 1896 bridge connecting Friedrichshain with Berlin-Kreuzberg and spanning the River Spree. Then it continues along the beautiful steel viaduct down Skalitzer Straße, Gitschiner Straße, Hallesches Ufer and Tempelhofer Ufer towards today's U-Bahnhof “Gleisdreick” where the eastern branch of the original elevated line ended. On the way, we will be visiting historic stations as well as learning more about the fascinating origins and the past of the line as well as the area it was built in.
Because you will be walking along very busy streets (unless it is Sunday when even Kreuzberg comes to rest), expect a lot of background noise. Unfortunately there is no way of eliminating it but good headphones will definitely help alleviate the problem.
The second tour (to be launched in summer 2018) following not so much the original Stammstrecke as the line's 1920s extension, will continue the story from Gleisdreieck to Uhlandstraße where U1 ends its run. In the meantime, you might enjoy reading the tour author's book, "Notmsparker's Berlin Companion: I Didn't Know That about Berlin" available via berlinarium.bigcartel.com as well as Amazon.co.uk. The second book "Notmsparker's Berlin Companion: Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin" will be published as an e-book in March 2018.