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Military Use

Vestiges of the former military use of the location are still visible on various constructions in the Lane. Owing to the influence of renown German architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, an H-shaped riding stable complex and the spacious Schinkel Hall (Schinkelhalle) were constructed on part of the former Garrison Wood Yard (Garnisonholzhofs) beginning in 1822. This was planed and executed by Carl Hampel, who had just become a Building Officer in the Ministry of War office. Starting in 1827 he led the newly created Prussian Military Building Administration.

The entire complex was rebuilt and enlarged a number of times. Next to today’s Harness Yard (Schirrhof), two large riding sites were cleared, the back site being enclosed by the Havel River while the front one remained publicly visible through a wrought-iron lattice with eagles, created by Christian Daniel Rauch. They could clearly see the yard from the street, which led to people nicknaming it the “Riding Theater” (Reittheater), a place where the cavalry exercised. Today's site of the original wrought-iron lattice is around the schoolyard of the primary school in the Lindenstraße.


Only one row of these riding stables still exists, as the rest was demolished in 1976 with the construction of the Humboldt Bridge. The impressive Schinkel Riding Hall with its open roof truss made of solid pine baulks was preserved, though in desperate need of repairs. As an outstanding relic or the period and as an example of an extinct architectural style, it was restored and enlarged in line with accepted conservation practices. Today it is used as a high-quality and atmospheric venue for various cultural and commercial events. The stables, also restored, are now domiciles for art and the free theatre T-Werk.

In 1838 King Frederick William III of Prussia ordered the formation of the Hussar Guard caserne. (Leibgarde-Husaren-Kaserne). For the fist time, an entire regiment of more than 600 men was to be accommodated in one building, which was constructed 1839/42 and was 136 meters long. During the next 80 years, three more riding halls were built – an unbelievable concentration in such a narrow environment, which also included horse stables and buildings for officials. Today, as the last breath of the military use of the complex fades, the one remaining District Civil Service Office will be disbanded in 2008.

In 1838 King Frederick William III of Prussia ordered the formation of the Hussar Guard caserne. (Leibgarde-Husaren-Kaserne). For the fist time, an entire regiment of more than 600 men was to be accommodated in one building, which was constructed 1839/42 and was 136 meters long. During the next 80 years, three more riding halls were built – an unbelievable concentration in such a narrow environment, which also included horse stables and buildings for officials. Today, as the last breath of the military use of the complex fades, the one remaining District Civil Service Office will be disbanded in 2008.


After 1945, the Soviet military was the first to use the barracks, but most of them were soon handed over to the National People’s Army (Nationale Volksarmee - NVA) of the GDR. Up until 1994, a radio and logistic battalion of the Soviet secret service KGB resided in the Schinkel Hall, in the stables, and in parts of the Hussar caserne. Garages and workshops left dilapidated buildings in their wake, and a leaky filling station contaminated the ground.

The Officer's Mess was used, among other purposes, as an arts and leisure centre by the NVA, and it hosted the Federal Property Office beginning in 1990. However, on June 21, 1992, the entire building with its historical and luxurious interior went up in flames, an event that was most probably arson. In 1999, the Regional Development Association was able to restore the outside of the building completely, and it is now used as an office.


The largest riding hall, Riding Hall A, was built in 1912 and reconstructed in 1998. The children and youth sections of the Hans Otto Theater reside there today. Another riding hall, Riding Hall B, is also renovated and used as a rehearsal stage for the Hans Otto Theater. The works on the Russian Hall to become a concert and activity center for the Laundry are presently in progress.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the political turn in 1990, the gas works and a large laundry were closed. The military facilities of the NVA were closed as well, and August 1994 saw the last Russian soldier's boot walk away from the area.

In the years following, the Shipbuilder's Lane was opened little by little, as a great work of art, to the public. Many buildings that had been used for cavalry and industry have now found a new purpose in culture, art, and business.

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