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March 15, 2002

Douglas Brent McBride

Back to the Future? Urban Reconstruction in Reunified Berlin

After years of debate, Berlin has adopted a master plan for urban reconstruction that aims to repair a city landscape scarred by war, walls, and razed-earth renewal programs of the postwar period. Far from being transformed into the glitzy cosmopolitan capital many foresaw during the euphoric first days of unification, Berlin now faces rising debts, endemic unemployment caused by the loss of its former industrial base, and a decline in population that contradicts glowing media images of a building boom. The new master plan attempts to meet these challenges by recreating an idealized and sanitized version of prewar Berlin, which planners hope will entice wealthy young professionals to repopulate districts that are rapidly becoming immigrant ghettos. Berlin’s problems are in many respects unique, but this slide presentation will focus on the implications of Berlin’s radical solutions for the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul today.

Friday, March 15

Little Theater, Quad 34