Berlin: A New Use for the Brandenburg Gate

You’ve seen pictures of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate.  It’s Germany’s equivalent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, but in a Neoclassical style.


Lately, Berlin seems to have a new use for its icon:


About half of the U-bahn cars have these stencils covering their windows.

I’m not sure but I suspect this is meant to discourage window-scratching, an especially destructive form of “tagging.”  The theory here is that taggers are drawn to blank surfaces where their work will be legible.  If that’s the purpose, it may be working; I saw only one window that had been scratched despite the stencils, and the tagger was clearly trying to adapt to the remaining blank space.  (On principle, I don’t post photos of tags; tagging is all about personal publicity, so posting a photo of a tag would make me the tagger’s accomplice.)

It’s not nearly as obtrusive as a wrap nor is it as profitable, but it’s still not something I’d recommend.   Now and then on a gray day a glimpse of the city between Brandenburg Gates can be intriguing, even romantic …


… but mostly the cure seems worse than the disease.


2 Responses to Berlin: A New Use for the Brandenburg Gate

  1. Beige September 17, 2009 at 8:13 am #

    Something that always strikes me when I visit Germany is how much graffiti there often is in what otherwise looks to American eyes like a very, very nice built environment. Kind of an odd more-graffiti but much-less-litter difference.

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