Moabit (english)

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Moabit is a district in Berlin, admi­nis­tra­tively, it belongs to the borough of Berlin-Mitte. Moabit is an island, its borders are water­cour­ses: the river Spree in the south, the Berlin-Span­dau canal in the east and north-east, the West­ha­fen canal in the north-east and the Char­lot­ten­bur­ger connec­tion canal in the east.

stadtplan_moabit
The map dates back to about 1900, a current one can be found e.g. at Open­Stre­et­Map

The sett­le­ment of Moabit star­ted in the begin­ning of the 18th century, when the Prus­sian king Frede­rick William I. offe­red a new home­land to Hugue­nots who had fled from France because of reli­gious perse­cu­tion. Their new resi­dence was some few miles before the city of Berlin, at the banks of the river Spree. Like the Israe­li­tes stayed in the coun­try of Moab, waiting for admis­sion to Canaan, the Hugue­nots stayed here outside of Berlin. The analogy to the bibli­cal story most probably gave origin to the name »Moabit«.

It was mainly in Moabit where the indus­tria­li­za­tion of Berlin took place. Initi­ally facto­ries were built in the very heart of Moabit, like Schumann’s porce­lain works, August Borsig’s iron­works, and Bolle’s milk empire. Later new indus­tries, like AEG and Carl Loewe, emer­ged in the west of Moabit, which until today remai­ned an indus­trial zone. In the course of the indus­tria­li­za­tion, the popu­la­tion of Moabit explo­ded from about 7,000 inha­bi­tants in 1860 to about 190,000 in 1910.

During the years of the divi­sion of Germany and Berlin, Moabit belon­ged to the peri­pherals of West-Berlin and was cons­i­de­red a very unat­trac­tive part of the town, with indus­tries, a large harbour, a prison, a long border with East-Berlin, and a poor, working-class popu­la­tion. Nowa­days, Moabit is in the centre of Berlin again, near to the federal government. The newly-built central rail­way station of Berlin is situa­ted in Moabit.

Moabit now houses about 70,000 inha­bi­tants of which almost thirty percent have a migra­tion back­ground. It still does not belong to the richer parts of Berlin, and probably never will do so. I lived here for almost thirty years, and I like my neigh­bour­hood, or »Kiez«, as the Berli­ners say.

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