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Today, the location is shaped by high-tech enterprises such as the Volkswagen Design Center Potsdam and the software company ORACLE. Many smaller, culturally based businesses have settled or will settle here.
The commercial use can be traced far back into the past. First being used to stockpile wood, the area beyond the city gates was mentioned to have a “Zichorien Fabrique” in 1799. Coffee substitute made from the roasted roots of chicory was produced here. This windmill, today under historical preservation, did not serve for grinding the “Mocca Faux” for very long, however, as the false coffee quickly lost its fashion status. Being robbed of its functionality as well as of its vanes, the mill incurred Frederic William IV.'s displeasure, who ordered his architect Ludwig Ferdinand Hesse to prop up its appearance with decorative crenelations, along with the construction of the castle Schloss Babelsberg in the park across the water. At the same time, Biermann's cardboard factory came into existence. This very entrepreneur also purchased the mill and added a residential house with the same kind of decorations. The second floor of the mill tower was converted into a lounge and received oriels and a balcony surrounding the tower – a wonderful example of a romantic manufacturer's mansion.
The street Neue Königsstraße was longing for light. On October 1st, 1856, the newly erected gas works of the Berlin businessman Julius Conrad Freund was brought on line. For over 140 years, it supplied Potsdam with coal gas: at first only to power the street lighting, and later for the rapidly increasing private consumption as well. The gas works was taken over by the city and repeatedly expanded. In 1908/09, the cardboard factory was acquired and demolished; in 1920, the gas works was made up of four large gasometers and numerous chimneys; and in 1929, the chicory mill was converted into an apartment for the operations manager.
After 1945, the shoreline was heaped up with debris from the war; the land newly gained land was, among other things, used to build a machine hall for the gas works. Subsequently, a fishing dock, which had existed long before and had fishing rights, lost its access to the water. The GDR nationalized the fishing rights under the “PGH Binnenfischerei” (Production Cooperation of the Trades – Inland Fishing), which built a fish hatchery at the old dock's location. Water from the Lake Tiefer See had to be pumped to the facility. Since 1995, this hatchery has been used for dance practice. After the new “Studio House” located at the Square Schirrhof will start its operation, the Fish House is planned to be demolished and the shore park attractively expanded.
Simultaneously, the impressive coke separator was built according to plans by Potsdam's architect Karl-Gottfried Pust. The neoclassical brick building, structured by pillars and 35 meters tall, is an intentional reminder of the industrial architecture of the 30s.
It was not until the first of July, 1990 that the gas works was shut down, being the last fully operational gas works using bituminous coal in central Europe. In the middle of 2001, the process of demolishing the gas works and decontamination of the soil began. The coke separator and one large gas container, however, were preserved and have new uses today.
In 1880/82, the Royal Garrison Laundry was built, which was expanded by the GDR's Service Syndicate Rewatex to become a large-scale laundry. Just like the newly-used buildings of the old gas works, the laundry's smokestack calls attention to the manifold history of the Shipbuilder's Lane as industrial location.
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