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Former Tempelhof railway yard

Former Tempelhof railway yard

Walking through an old railway yard

Until the middle of the twentieth century, loaded freight wagons rolled by at the Tempelhof railway yard, the boiling steam from locomotives spewed in all directions and smoked like burned coal. The mile-long railway yard was built in 1889 and expanded like crazy.

The site, now known as Südgelände, is squeezed between various rail routes in the German capital Berlin, including the Anhalter Bahn. That line was built in 1839 with the Anhalter Bahnhof as its terminus station, two kilometers north.

The isolated location made it ideal to build a railway yard (see plan). Only the Prellerweg was in the way, but several viaducts bridged that obstacle.


A significant expansion followed in the 1920s. The fifty-meter-high water tower dates from that period (built 1927). During the rise of the Third Reich, Nazi architect Speer dreamed of his "Reichshauptstadt Germania." Südbahnhof Speer wanted to wipe Anhalter Bahnhof off the map and build the megalomaniac Südbahnhof on the site of the railway yard. Nothing came of his plans.

Not Speer, but Allied bombing ultimately destroyed the Anhalter Bahnhof. Although it was temporarily repaired, it closed for good in 1952. The facade is all that remains.

The railway line between the Tempelhof railway station and Anhalter Bahnhof was abandoned. A signal box still stands today,  like the dozens of unused bridges above Yorkstrasse.

Not only the railway yard but also the Bahnbetriebswerk became useless. The train workshop was near the Anhalter Bahnhof terminal station (about 2 kilometers from the Tempelhof railway yard). From 1982, it houses the Deutsche Technikmuseum.

Out of use

The Tempelhof shunting station also felt the closure of the Anhalter Bahnhof firsthand. In 1952, it was almost entirely out of use. Nature quickly overgrows the tracks.

Deutsche Bahn relinquished the site in 1995, and Grün Berlin planned to build the 18-hectare Südgelände park there. The Natur-Park Schöneberger Südgelände opened its doors in 2000.

The locomotive shed has been preserved, with various tracks and tunnels and the fifty-meter high water tower. A steam locomotive is parked between the trees.

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