The Making of a Bohemian Microcosm
Montmartre evolved following a massive urban reconstruction and relocation scheme initiated by a great man of the 19th century: Napoleon III. Together with his ambitious town planning prefect Baron Haussmann, he aimed at creating a mundane Paris of dazzling allure and wanted it to become „the most beautiful city of Europe“ – not without granting spacious plots of land in prime locations to Haussmann, his many friends and financial supporters. By rigorously stomping unsightly areas into the ground and by replacing humble housing by posh manorial edifices and narrow crooked alleyways by grandiose and airy boulevards and squares, Paris’s face was substantially lifted and embellished – albeit at the expense of the less privileged population, who became early victims of gentrification.
Reading time: about 6 minutes
It is presumed to be the most colourful, multinational and omnicultural of Berlin’s districts: Neukölln, whose reputation – up to the recent past – could be considered controversial at best. Predominantly low-income (German) residents alongside a high rate of immigrants touching the 40 per cent mark have been benefiting from affordable rents and trying to make ends meet remote from posh Berlin areas. Different beliefs; traditions; habits; tongues; skins or dress codes hailing from alien ethnic backgrounds not seldom ignited the precarious potential for social conflicts. Better-off Berliners and visitors to the city alike preferred to stay at a safe distance for a reason. Yet, by avoiding the confrontation with an often bleak reality, they simultaneously missed out on glamour of a quality only thriving in microcosms such as Neukölln.
Reading time: about 3 minutes