The last days of Tempelhof Airport, October 2008

Historic Tempelhof Airport, of Berlin airlift fame, closed on October 30, 2008. 

I snagged one of the last cheap tickets flying between Mannheim and Tempelhof, and spent a beautiful warm fall weekend in Berlin. In fact, in spite of living a few hours away by train, I had never been there.

The airport was clearly barely running, but what a glorious structure it is, a Third Reich-era structure that was finished in the 1950’s by the Americans. Still, the lack of flights gave it a haunted, sadly dignified character to the structure. The flights were down to only intra-European flights on regional jets, with a single baggage claim sitting next to the check-in counters, and a handful of concessions. There was still more than a hint of the glory days of air travel, with the large roof shielding passengers from the weather, the enormous size and graceful curve of the building, and the cooly elegant main hall. Indeed, this was a busy airport up to the 1970’s, and benefited from a very central location, accessible by subway from the city center in less than 20 minutes.

The structure is also multipurpose, not just a terminal building, but also an integrated hangar, with enormous spaces for housing aircraft on the periphery. On a more psychological level, it served as a grand and central gateway to the city of Berlin, with its monumental roof, the stairways leading to the main hall, leaving one with the feeling of having arrived in town. 

So I give you the last days of Tempelhof Airport.

 

check-in counters

check-in counters


very 1960's style restaurant, but alas, closed.

very 1960's style restaurant, but alas, closed.


taxi stand and neon sign

taxi stand and neon sign


main hall, during the rush hour

main hall and the single baggage claim, during rush hour


gate access

gate access


the roof, and the raisin bomber

the roof, and the raisin bomber


departing for Mannheim

departing for Mannheim


goodbye Berlin

goodbye Berlin

 

 

 

 

 

 

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