Friedrichshain is one of the many boroughs that Berlin has. It is a part of the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, with Kreuzberg just across the river. The name Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg is hardly used outside government administration. Originally created in 1920, Friedrichshain was a freestanding city borough until Berlin’s 2001 administrative reform. The borough was a part of East Berlin, an inner city locality, and it is adjacent to Prenzlauer Berg, Mitte, Kreuzbreg and Lichtenberg.
The name “Friedrichshain” has been derived form a vast green park called Volspark Friedrichshain, which is located at the north border to Prezlauer Berg. During the Nazi reign in the country, Friedrichshain was known as Horst-Wessel-Stadt. The name Friedrichshain, which means “Frederick’s Grove”, was planned in 1840 to commemorate the centenary of Frederick the Great.
In 1920 when Greater Berlin was established by referendum, a large working-class district was created, which also incorporated several settlements surrounding the area. Friedrichshain united small villages or settlements such as Frankfurter Vorstadt, which, at that time was already a part of Berlin, and also villages like Stralau and Boxhagen. A huge part of the district was settled in the rapid industrialization of the 19th and early 20th centuries, which was primarily caused by the growth in manufacturing and crafts. The opening of the railway line from Berlin to Frankfurt (Oder) in 1846 and the opening of the first waterworks at Stralauer Tor were basically the cause of the huge leap by means of industrialization in the district. A few years later, the Krankenhaus im Friedrichshain, Berlin’s first Hospital was opened in 1874, just beside the university clinic Charite’. Leading the employer’s list in the early 1900’s was the Knorr-Bremse brake factory; the Knorrpromenade, one of the most beautiful streets in Friedrichshain, was built and served as an office to house the management.
In 1933 when the Nazis came to power, the district’s name was changed to Horst-Wessel-Stadt, after the Nazi activist and writer of the Nazi hymn, died in the Friedrichshain hospital after being shot by communists. The incident, which happened in 1930, was turned into a propaganda event by Joseph Goebbels.
When World War II erupted, Friedrichshain was one of the most heavily damaged districts of Berlin. This was because of the industries in the district that were specifically targeted by the Allied Strategic bombers. Some buildings still display bullet holes from the house to house fighting during the Battle of Berlin, which can still be seen as late as the 90’s. After the war, the boundary between the US and the Soviet occupation sectors ran between Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, which became a sealed border between the West and East Berlin. The order was built in 1961 and was named the Berlin Wall.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the free elections in March of 1990, and the German reunification, the district has developed a name as a young and dynamic district. Along with the other neighboring districts of Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg,and Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain is now one of Berlin’s most fashionable areas and at the same time, known to be home to numerous design and media companies including MTV Central Europe. The district is also known for its bars, clubs, pubs, cafes, which are usually located in the vicinity of Simon-Dach-Straße and Boxhagener Platz. House rents are very affordable in Friedrichshain, unlike in districts like Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte, which have undergone high levels of demographic changes causing rents to be more expensive. And because of the cheap rented accommodations, Friedrichshain has been the top choice for students and artists. Numerous restorations are happening in the district nowadays, developing Friedrichshain at a fast pace and becoming more and more gentrified.