Torstraße. It used to be this barren street that separates Mitte from Prenzlauer Berg. Old institutions like Gaststätte W. Prassnik and Kaffee Burger once housed the newly arrived intellectual frontier, became quickly places where one would go to avoid the hipsters. As much authentic charm as they spread, they didn’t put Torstraße onto the map. Places like Neue Odessa Bar did.
It was 2007 when Odessa opened. Back than it was a laid back place that even served food. The owners quickly realized that there is more to get out of the place and change the profile. No food, all drinks with seats outside in the summer. This place now isn’t exactly known for the best drink, the best music or the friendliest stuff. It’s just there, amassing every weekend hundreds of people. As somebody who knows this place from way back, it is almost surreal that people would cue for it. It’s only a bar, after all.
But being one of the first, especially on Torstraße, helps with the creds and is good for business.
What followed was a flood of boutiques, art galleries, furniture stores and expensive restaurants. It became easy to spot the shops that have either very long contracts or own the real estate. With ever rising prices, the face of Torstraße have been mostly wiped clean, as if there is no history.
For some people, Torstraße is just the streets that leads from Rosenthaler Platz to Berlin’s branch of the SoHo House. Now, George Clooney and Bill Murray – who recently have been spotted at Neue Odessa Bar – are not unseen faces for the neighborhood.
While I might sound skeptical, I am not. I enjoy the old and the new places. I enjoy the fact that I live on this street, that I step out on it every morning and only need to look around to see the new things emerge. The only thing that does disturb me is that only because something is new, it is not necessary better. Some of the things, as irrational they might seem from a 21 century capitalism perspective, are worth to be preserved and it is up to the citizens of those neighborhood to do so.
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