Historical Map: West Berlin U-Bahn Map, 1977

Berlin’s troubled post-World War II history led to a fascinating dual history for transit in that city, divided into East and West sectors. This West Berlin U-Bahn map from 1977 - at the height of the Cold War - shows that division in a stark, but also curiously understated fashion. The infamous Berlin Wall that completely divided the city is prosaically referred to as a Sektorengrenze, or “sector boundary”.

All U-Bahn lines are still shown, but the East Berlin-exclusive lines are rendered as thin black lines with the legend, “Railway stations which can be reached only with the trains of the East BGV”.

At the same time, stations on the 6 and 8 lines passing through the East Sector are crossed out. Here, the legend reads, “Railway stations where trains do not stop”. These are the infamous Geisterbahnhofe, or “ghost stations”, patrolled by East German border guards to prevent unauthorised crossings into West Berlin. The one station in East Berlin that remained open was Friedrichstrasse, an official checkpoint between the two sectors.

Interestingly, the S-Bahn is not represented at all on the map: it was entirely controlled by East Germany at this time, even when it ran through West Berlin. As a result, West Berliners were encouraged to boycott the S-Bahn to prevent funding the Soviet-controlled state (even though West Berlin also paid a massive annual fee to East Germany to allow U-Bahn trains to travel through the East sector).

Have we been there? Yes, in 2004, long after the collapse of the Wall. Pretty much the only part I saw was a single segment near Potzdamer Platz.

What we like: Fascinating historical and political snapshot.

What we don’t like: Not going to win any awards for its outstanding design. Its primitive design and thin paper (you can clearly see what’s printed on the other side) probably reflect the austerity of the times.

Our rating: Fascinating! Four stars.

4 Stars!

(Source: Robert Reynolds’ Subway Map Scans Collection)

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