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The State-Directed Development of Urban Green Space in Berlin until 1870

Around 1840

Until the foundation of the German Empire in 1870-‘71, the urban planning matters of Berlin were essentially determined by the Prussian state, either through royal decrees or through fiscal and police measures.

Around 1840, the only recreation space available to the approx. 322,000 Berliners, aside from the promenade Unter den Linden, was the Großer Tiergarten. The few city squares were largely reserved for purposes of representation. The royal gardens director Peter Joseph Lenné (1789-1866), had the Großer Tiergarten rebuilt into a landscape park in 1818 and from 1832 to 1840. In 1843, the Invalidenpark was created, and in 1849, Lenné remodeled the Kleiner Tiergarten.

In order to certify additional recreational areas for the greatly increasing population of Berlin, Lenné was assigned by the Prussian Ministry of the Interior to draft a plan covering the entire area of the city. On April 24, 1840 Lenné submitted his plan for “the Projected Decorative and Border Strips of Berlin, with the Adjoining Area.” This map already showed the Friedrichshain.

1848 to 1870

Lenné’s closest associate, who worked as the royal court gardener at Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam, Gustav Meyer (1816-1877), was commissioned to draft a plan for the Friedrichshain. The Park was built between 1846 and 1848 as the first municipal green space of 34 ha, under the superintendence of the Berlin Forest and Economics Deputation. Immediately after its completion, the dead of the March Revolution of 1848 were interred here.

In 1864, the Berlin City Council commissioned Gustav Meyer to design an additional urban park outside the Schesisches Tor (Silesian Gate), which was to become the Treptower Park. On December 15, 1864, the design was submitted and was favorably received. However, the Treptower Park was not built until 1876-1888.

In 1865, the City Council authorized the purchase of the property which would later be used for the Humboldthain, built 1869-1870.

As an effect of rapid industrialization, the population of Berlin had risen to 428,000 inhabitants in 1850, to 500,000 inhabitants in 1860, and to 800,000 inhabitants in 1870 – on the same area. This led to extremely crowded and socially untenable residential conditions.