What's the reason for wider streets in East Germany?

What's the reason for wider streets in East Germany?

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I heard* that in the GDR towns were planned so that most streets were wide enough for tanks to get through - in order to be able to fight the people more easily if they should rebel (even though it was never done (the fighting with tanks, not the revolts)).

Is that true? Can you point me to sources (English or German)? If you have sources not about eastern Germany but the East Block in general (or parts of it), I'd be happy as well.

* I do not remember who told me that and when; if I could cite it I would. I'm asking the question to try to prove or disprove an unexamined assumption.

Streets in East Germany are as wide as they are because the GDR was modern. More modern than West Germany. "Modern" here is an architectural term, not an evaluation of any proclaimed state ideology.

Socialist city planning is mainly influenced by modernism and that was a global trend. Streets in the GDR are also not that wide, if you compare them to either Los Angeles or streets in the West of Germany. But cities in the GDR were not as densely built after the war, as compared to the West. That resulting open space and airy - or sometimes almost empty -feeling may increase the effect observed in the question.

The GDR built according to plan. A very specific plan:

Due to the criminal Hitler War, especially the Anglo-American bombing war against residential and cultural sites, many cities of our fatherland have suffered serious damage. Contrary to the international warfare of the Americans and Englishmen, the Soviet Union has spared our living and cultural sites and, after breaking up Hitler's fascism, has provided effective political and economic assistance to the German people for the Democratic development.… Wikisource: Gesetz über den Aufbau der Städte in der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik und der Hauptstadt Deutschlands, Berlin (Aufbaugesetz). Vom 6. September 1950

Anyone visiting Dresden is also told that the really big streets were socialist magistrales to facilitate the marches of troops on parade as well as mass demonstrations. Right. Mass demonstrations, but of course in favour of the government with large pictures of the leaders, just like in Moscow on May first or when the Red October was celebrated. But that is mainly propaganda from pro-West tour guides in contradiction to what the planners themselves wrote down at the time in their theories and also in contradiction to any city in the capitalist West that embraced the automobile-compatible idea of city planning.

One example in well known pictures:

Source left, source right

This shows still the old streets from before the war, now with ample opportunity for real estate development, and seemingly broad streets.

Concerning the tank part from the question

… most streets were wide enough for tanks to get through - in order to be able to fight the people more easily if they should rebel (even though it was never done (the fighting with tanks, not the revolts)).

It is of course a myth that the streets were designed with that in mind. But it is an understandably easy to trace myth. On June 17, 1953 the construction workers on the most impressive of those new socialist streets did start a small demonstration in protest that quickly escalated into full rebellion. On this street - the Stalinallee - Soviet tanks did appear and then opened fire. The street was intended to be representative, showcasing the many advantages socialism had to offer and show off how flowering the Eastern half of Berlin was. The ample room the tanks had there to manoeuvre was just a side effect, not the core of design principles. Parades were of course priced in, also with tanks to display. But that's it.

That is easy to prove as the sight of tanks fighting against workers in the worker's paradise on earth makes for very bad propaganda. And the leadership was taken by total surprise that their love for all their people suddenly turned out to be not so much requited.

Evil capitalist oppressors have to expect insurrections, as communism is the goal of mankind. Therefore communists don't have to fear any insurrection. Counter-revolutionaries are being dealt with by the ordinary, small scale police, on foot, as those operatives sent or coordinated from the capitalist oppressors will be always a small group at best. - The official party line did not count on being threatened in power, only a bit challenged from time to time.

Anyone visiting cities in the German East that were not as hard hit as Dresden in the war will observe that streets in Bautzen, Küstrin, Schwerin or Görlitz remained largely as narrow and cosy as was customary in the old days. Exceptions are to be found in Chemnitz and Erfurt where old buildings were tried to be kept but large roads modernised the city as the planners saw fit.

There are only a few effects that made East Germany a bit special. The modernism could reign supreme for the entire lifetime of the whole state, whereas in the West the critique against this modernism began in the seventies and resulted in post-modernism etc. The GDR built roads and high rises in the familiar style right to the end. But post-war modernist architecture in the West is in principle indistinguishable from what is found in the East.

In East Germany it was also much easier to clear the land necessary for big projects. Once such a plan was formulated, implementing it was not easy, but it was not as much a hold-up to deal with previous owners, if there were any.

Some architects switched from East to West and back again in the early years, as their ideas where just the same everywhere and popular everywhere. Follow up the names of the architects involved in designing the Stalinallee and compare West Berlin Unitè d'Habitation with again Dresden this time Prager Strasse

The exact reasons were laid down in the 16 principles of urban design. Tanks are not part of these considerations. The principles are civilian in nature.

The Sixteen Principles of Urban Design Decided by the Government of the German Democratic Republic on 27 July 1950:

The urban planning and architectural design of our cities, which shall influence the construction of all of Germany, must express the social order of the German Democratic Republic, as well as the progressive traditions and great goals of our German people. They shall adhere to the following principles:

  1. The city as a form of settlement did not arise by chance. The city is the richest economic and cultural form of community settlement, proven by centuries of experience. The city is in its structural and architectural design an expression of the political life and the national consciousness of the people.
  2. The goal of urban planning is the harmonious fulfillments of man's basic rights to employment, housing, culture and recreation. The methodological principles of urban planning are based on the natural condition, on the social and economic foundations of the state, on the highest achievements of science, technology and art, on the needs of the economy, and on the use of progressive elements of the cultural heritage of the people.
  3. Cities, per se, do not arise and do not exist. To a significant extent, cities are built by industry for industry. The growth of the city, the population, and the area are determined by city-forming factors, that is, from industry, governing bodies, and cultural sites, insofar as they have more than local significance. In the capital, industry as an urbanization factor is of secondary importance to administrative bodies and cultural sites. The precise discernment and codification of city-forming factors is a matter determined by government.
  4. The growth of the city must be subordinate to efficacy and remain within certain limits. An overgrown city, its population, and its area lead to difficulties in eliminating tangles in their structure, lead to entanglements in the organization of cultural life and the daily care of the population, and lead to administrative complications, both in business and in the development of industry.
  5. Urban planning must be based on the principles of organicism, and the consideration of a city's historical structure in eliminating that city's shortcomings.
  6. The center forms the veritable core of the city. The center of the city is the political center for its population. In the city center are the most important political, administrative and cultural sites. On the squares in the city center one might find political demonstrations, marches and popular celebrations held on festival days. The center of the city shall be composed of the most important and monumental buildings, dominating the architectural composition of the city plan and determining the architectural silhouette of the city.
  7. In cities that lie on a river, the river and its embankments shall be one of the main arteries and architectural axes of the city.
  8. Traffic circulation has to serve the city and its population. It should neither divide the city nor be cumbersome to the general public. Through traffic should be removed from the center and central district and rerouted outside its borders or to an outer ring. Equipment for the carriage of goods, such as rail- and canal-ways, should also be kept away from the central district of the city. Determining locations for main roads must take into account the coherence and tranquility of residential districts. In determining the width of main roads, it is important to note that the width of these main thoroughfares is not of crucial importance to urban transportation, but rather as an outlet for crossroads in order to appropriately ease the demands of traffic flow.
  9. The visage of the city-that is, its individual artistic form-shall be defined by squares, main streets, and prominent buildings in the center of the city (in those largest cities containing skyscrapers). Squares and plazas shall serve as the structural basis for the planning of the city and for its overall architectural composition.
  10. Residential areas shall consist of housing districts, the cores of which shall be district centers. For the sake of the residents of these housing districts, in them shall be all necessary cultural, utility, and social services. The second aspect in the structuring of residential areas shall be the residential complex, which is formed by grouping together four housing structures, where there shall be located a central park, schools, kindergartens, and nurseries that serve the daily needs of the population. Urban transport must not be allowed within these residential areas, but neither the residential districts nor the residential complexes should be isolated entities in and of themselves. Latent in their structure and design are the demands of the city on a whole. The housing structures themselves function as a third aspect in the importance of complexes in planning and design.
  11. Access to light and air are not the only determining factors for healthy and peaceful living conditions, but also population density and orientations, as well as the development of transportation systems.
  12. It is impossible to transform a city into a garden. Of course, care must be taken to provide sufficient greenery, but the principle not to overturn is that in the city one lives urbanistically, whereas on the outskirts or outside the city one lives rurally.
  13. The many storey high-rise is more economical than a one- or two-storey design. It also reflects the character of the metropolis.
  14. Urban planning is the basis of architectural design. Central to urban planning and architectural design of a city is the creation of an individual and unique visage for that city. The architecture must embody both the progressive traditions as well as the past experiences of the people.
  15. For urban planning, as for architectural design, there shall be no abstract scheme. Crucial are only the summarization of essential architectural factors and the demands of daily life.
  16. Simultaneously and in accordance with the work on a city plan shall be completed designs for the planning and development of specific neighborhoods, as well as plazas and main street with neatly organized housing blocks, whose construction will be completed first.

Compare that with any city re-built in the 50s or 60s in France or West Germany and find the difference. This was not uniformly done in all cities to the same extent, but the Sozialistische Stadt is only one variant of the ideal city.

For more insight into socialist modernism you might want to read a Western analysis Nikolaos Drosos: "Modernism with a Human Face: Synthesis of Art and Architecture in Eastern Europe, 1954-1958", CUNY Academic Works: New York, 2016. And that special focus on streets is described in David Frisby: "Straight or crooked streets? The contested rational spirit of the modern metropolis", p 57-84, in: Iain Boyd Whyte (Ed): "Modernism and the Spirit of the City", Routledge: Abingdon, 2003.

A direct comparison of current results of modernist city planning might be found in the fact that of the six most lovable inner cities only two are from the West and further that West-German Frankfurt has with its Berliner Straße one of the worst examples of car-friendly catastrophical city-planning.

In the Second World War, Berlin had been massively destroyed and so after 1945 reconstruction became a core challenge which lasted for the following decades. Furthermore, the division of the city into West and East and the growing political tensions between the two systems that were materialized in the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 also were reflected in the respective urban and transportation development that followed different planning and political ideologies. However, in both parts of the city the dimensions of the street and transportation network were fundamentally altered, based on the common idea to structure the city by four expressways that cross in the city center and connect the city to its hinterland. In West-Berlin, until 1955 the focus of street development was on the reconstruction of important radial streets and east-west connections. Notwithstanding, in anticipation of increasing motorization, as it already was the case in other West-German cities like Munich or Frankfurt, the municipality began to systematically prepare the construction of an elevated street network based on the land use plan that had been drafted in 1950 and inspired by plans realized in the United States. Even though car owners were a minority (1950, 100.000 cars; 1965, 165.000 cars in the city), this project inaugurated a new phase in transportation policy, whose prime goals had become the free choice of the traffic mode, the promotion of motorized travel and ultimately a functionally separated city.
- Annika Levels: "Rethinking the Street. Politics, Processes, and Space of Pedestrian- and Bicycle-Friendly Street Transformations in New York And Berlin", Dissertation, Berlin, 2019. (PDF)

As far as I know this holds especially for the greater towns of the Kingdom of Prussia (eastward river Elbe): Berlin, Potsdam, Königsberg, Breslau, Magdeburg and so on… In the 1700 and 1800 years the Prussian military authorities attached great importance to have the opportunity to relocate the troops from day to day. This was only possible with appropriate roads. I do not think this was an invention of the Cold War.

The Difference Between Streets, Boulevards, Avenues, and Other Roads

If you’ve ever wondered why some roads are called “streets,” while others are known as “boulevards” or “avenues,” you’re not alone. And as it turns out, there’s actually some meaning behind those names and they may even help you navigate a city.

In this video from the Vox YouTube channel , Phil Edwards gives the lowdown on what all those words means when it comes to transportation. Here’s a quick taste of what you’ll learn:

  • Road (Rd.): Can be anything that connects two points. The most basic of the naming conventions.
  • Way: A small side street off a road.
  • Street (St.): A public way that has buildings on both sides of it. They run perpendicular to avenues.
  • Avenue (Ave.): Also a public way that has buildings or trees on either side of it. They run perpendicular to streets.
  • Boulevard (Blvd.): A very wide city street that has trees and vegetation on both sides of it. There’s also usually a median in the middle of boulevards.
  • Lane (Ln.): A narrow road often found in a rural area. Basically, the opposite of a boulevard.
  • Drive (Dr.): A long, winding road that has its route shaped by its environment, like a nearby lake or mountain.
  • Terrace (Ter.): A street that follows the top of a slope.
  • Place (Pl.): A road or street that has no throughway—or leads to a dead end.
  • Court (Ct.): A road or street that ends in a circle or loop.
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Of course, these are more guidelines than hard-and-fast rules, and not every city in the world follows these naming conventions exactly. Also, they tend not to be as strict with these in suburbs and newer areas: sometimes a street is called a “lane” simply because an urban planner or developer might think it sounds nice . Not only that, but what starts out as a “street” could later be developed to the point of taking on the characteristics of an “avenue.” But even though these guidelines aren’t written in stone, it does provide some helpful context about our roads.

This story was originally published on 11/20/16 and was updated on 8/22/19 to provide more thorough and current information.

Colonial Berlin in 10 stops

Germany might have entered the colonial game late, but it did so with typical Prussian vigour. Starting in 1884, the German Reich conquered vast swaths of Africa. It lost its ‘place in the sun’ soon after the First World War and was not able to reclaim it in the Second. Still, Germany had the time to plant flags, scoop up local treasures and – in the early 1900s – commit its first genocide, against the Herero and Nama people of current-day Namibia.

Germany’s ill-fated colonisation of Africa might have deserted most minds, but its memory lives on in the streets and stones of Berlin. Take a tour across the city and discover Germany’s colonialist past, from 17th-century Prussian slave traders to the current-day activists who have been trying to uncover and challenge this secret history for years.

1. Gröbenufer A slave trader’s street

Start out on the Kreuzberg side of the Oberbaum Bridge. Opposite from Watergate, you’ll find a small street that runs along the Spree. This street was once named after Otto Friedrich von der Gröben. While other Prussians were focused on the army, this 25-year-old aristocrat braved the oceans to reach the Gold Coast (in current-day Ghana) and establish the fort Groß-Friedrichsburg. On January 1, 1683, the screaming red eagle of Brandenburg was raised over African soil.

The Prussians used the fort primarily for slave trading, kidnapping over 20,000 Africans and sending them across the Atlantic. After 35 years, however, Prussia’s soldier king lost interest in colonies and sold the fort to the Dutch West India Company. Gröben might have remained a footnote in German history had his name not been dredged up during the fevered colonial excitement of 1895 when the government honoured him as the founder of Germany’s colonial empire.

2. Mohrenstraße “’Moor’ isn’t an offensive word!”

Long before Hollywood actresses started adopting African babies, 18th-century European royals were enthralled with “court moors”: Africans forced to work as servants. When the Dutch bought Groß-Friedrichsburg, their payment included 12 Gold Coast natives, whom old King Fritz put to work as army musicians. Their barracks in the centre of Berlin inspired the name “Moor Street”.

Many years later, German-African activists are still campaigning to change the outdated racial slur to something less offensive (“Nelson Mandela Street” was one suggestion). Longtime Berliner Yonas Endrias, originally from Eritrea, has spent the past seven years campaigning with the group Berlin Postkolonial, listening as local (white) politicians explain that “moor” is not really a deprecatory word. In February 2009, an unknown individual in a pink bunny suit added two dots to the street signs, thus transforming Racial Epithet Street (Mohrenstraße) into Carrot Street (Möhrenstraße). Clever, right?

3. Bismarck-Nationaldenkmal Germany extends its Reich

A monument to Germany’s first emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm I, once stood in the Großer Stern, the traffic circle in the middle of the Tiergarten. The Kaiser was removed in 1950, but a statue of his chancellor of many years, Otto von Bismarck, still remains. Although the ‘iron chancellor’ might be remembered as the architect of the German Reich, founded in 1871, he won more territory in Africa than in Central Europe.

Before Bismarck turned his sights to the south, the French had long conquered much of North Africa, while the British were working to establish a colony from Cairo to the Cape. Yet in a few short years Germany annexed Togo, Cameroon, German South-West Africa (today: Namibia) and German East Africa (Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi). The northeastern part of current-day New Guinea also became “Kaiser- Wilhelms-Land”, and to this day a nearby group of islands is still called the Bismarck Archipelago.

4. Wilhelmstraße 77 Where Africa was divided

Past the Brandenburg Gate and the Adlon hotel, the splendour of Wilhelmstraße gives way to monotonous blocks of concrete East German flats. It is hard to imagine that this was the government quarter of imperial Berlin.

In November 1884, Bismarck invited 14 colonial powers to a meeting in the chancellor’s palace at Wilhelmstraße 77. Europe’s coastal colonies were beginning to expand inward, but who would control the vast Congo basin? Bismarck’s Kongokonferenz (known in English as the Berlin Conference) took three months to divvy up the continent’s riches.

By the end, the Congo had been given to ruthless King Leopold II of Belgium. Under his rule, several million Africans were worked to death or executed. The rest of Africa was divided up along geometric boundaries with complete disregard for the people living there. Of the 50-plus countries created, only Abyssinia (part of modern Libya), Ethiopia and Liberia retained any kind of independence.

Today, the meeting that changed the fate of a continent is commemorated only by an aluminium information plaque.

5. Wissmannstraße An explorer and a conqueror

The short cobblestone street heading up from Hermannplatz is named after Hermann von Wissmann, who with his pith helmet and handlebar moustache resembled the classic explorers of yore. But Wissmann was no anthropologist – his early expeditions through Central Africa were financed by the Belgian crown in order to prepare for colonisation.

Wissmann became the Reich Commissar for German East Africa in 1888. When coastal residents rose up against German rule, he declared their towns would be “wiped off the map”. His iron-fisted rule was so successful that he was eventually named governor of the colony – and given two different Berlin streets in the 1890s.

6. Karpfenteich More than just carp on display

Colonialism was not just about labour camps and mass murder. It was also about looking at exotic flora and fauna…including humans. The 1896 German Colonial Exposition, or Völkerschau, proudly displayed 103 real, live Africans in a ‘Negerdorf ’ (negro village) by Treptower Park’s Carp Pond. Among these were five Herero from German South-West Africa, including the paramount chief’s eldest son. With his suit and rifle, Friedrich Maherero hardly matched Berliners’ image of a ‘typical native’. Felix von Luschan, director of Berlin’s Ethnological Museum, said he imagined not all Herero made such a “gentleman-like” impression.

7. Afrikanisches Viertel Why an African quarter?

The success of the Colonial Exposition inspired zoo magnate Carl Hagenbeck to develop plans for a permanent Völkerschau. The Rehberge Park in Wedding was to be the location of a zoo in which people would be displayed alongside animals. The two World Wars destroyed these plans – and the German colonial empire itself – but not before the streets east of the park were re-christened in honour of Germany’s brand-new territories and the men who conquered them. Over time, the area became known as the Afrikanisches Viertel, or African Quarter.

Among such streets as Kameruner Straße and Togostraße, you’ll find Lüderitzstraße and Nachtigalplatz, honouring a businessman and a politician who used threats, deception and military force to bring Togo, Cameroon and German South-West Africa under imperial “protection”. There was also a street named for Carls Peters, who conquered German East Africa in the 1880s. His rapes and murders were too much even for the Kaiser, however, and he was fired in 1897 – only to be given a street and a monument by Hitler in 1937.

Activist groups and the German government have attempted to reclaim the quarter from its colonial past. Petersallee is now named after conservative politician Hans Peters (no relation), and the monument is gone. Ghanastraße, named in 1958, commemorates the independence of that former British colony. And a stand-alone plaque at the subway station Rehberge provides a short history of the area.

The Afrikanisches Viertel started to attract Africans from the late 1990s onwards. Nowadays about 2500 people from African countries live there – not for the name, but for the relatively cheap rents.

8. Lüderitzstraße Don’t mention the G-word!

A particularly controversial street in the Viertel is Lüderitzstraße. Lüderitz, a small harbour city in German South-West Africa (current-day Namibia), itself named after colonialist merchant Adolph Lüderitz, played an important part in the most brutal episode in German colonialist history. It was on Shark Island, just off the city’s coast, that Germany founded its first concentration camp.

From 1904-07, the Herero and Nama (pejoratively referred to as the “Hottentots”) living in the colony rose up against their German ‘protectors’. General Lothar von Trotha responded to this uprising by issuing his infamous Vernichtungsbefehl, ordering German forces to exterminate every Herero man, woman and child they could find. His troops drove many natives out into the desert to die of thirst, while survivors were forced to work to death at Shark Island and other concentration camps. In total, 80% of the Herero and 50% of the Nama were killed.

Whereas most historians regard the episode as Germany’s first genocide, and the camps and eugenics studies implemented there as direct precursors of the Holocaust, German politicians are still reluctant to refer to the atrocities as ‘genocide’. (Read our interview with historian Jan Bart Gewald on www.exberliner.com)

9. Charité How many skulls?

Continuing north on Wilhelmstraße, you eventually reach the high-rise Charité, Berlin’s largest hospital. Just last year, the hospital returned 20 skulls from its ‘collection’ to a delegation from Namibia. These 20 were among an estimated 3000 taken from German South- West Africa in the early 20th century.

Forced labour at Shark Island and other concentration camps included cleaning off skulls to send to Germany for ‘scientific research’ to prove the racial superiority of Europeans – foreshadowing the even more brutal experiments carried out by Josef Mengele and others during the Nazi regime. To this day, no one knows how many skulls are in institutions and private households all over the country.

10. Friedhof Columbiadamm Berlin’s most offensive monument

At the back of the Columbiadamm cemetery, in the shade of ivy-covered trees, there is a strange calm – only interrupted by loudspeaker announcements from the lifeguard at the Neukölln public pool, located just on the other side of the red brick wall. Here, you will find Berlin’s most offensive monument.

It seems that the colonial troops massacring the Herero and Nama suffered some hardships themselves. In 1907, a giant block of red granite was engraved with the names of seven soldiers who “died a hero’s death”. The Afrikastein (Africa Stone) stood in Kreuzberg until 1973, when Berlin’s dubious “Africa-Camaraderie Society” restored the stone and moved it to its current location. At the same time, they inscribed it with the logo of Hitler’s failed Afrikakorps initiative, replacing the swastika with an iron cross.

For years, Berlin Postkolonial and other groups have protested this inappropriate tribute. “Our demand was to remove the Africa Stone, or at least put a decent text on the plaque,” says Endrias. The government’s response? In October 2009 a much smaller plaque was installed on the ground next to the stone, commemorating Namibia’s 60,000 “victims of colonial war”. According to Neukölln councilman Thomas Blesing, the German Foreign Office “strongly discouraged” any references to genocide.

Back to Gröbenufer. now known as May-Ayim-Ufer

Our tour now ends right where it began – at the former Gröbenufer, renamed the May-Ayim Ufer in February 2007. Now, the street honours the legacy of a German-Ghanaian author and activist who founded the Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland. After so many years drawing attention to the country’s little-known colonial past, it is only right that May Ayim claim victory in this ‘street battle’.

The fight to replace Berlin’s imperial and colonial street names is going slowly, and indeed sometimes even going backward. Witness the 1991 renaming of the Otto-Grotewohl-Straße U-Bahn station to Mohrenstraße, the GDR prime minister replaced by the 18th-century N-word equivalent. Berlin worked overtime to eliminate communist street names – so why are the colonialist names still around?

Some Berliners oppose renaming the streets for purely financial reasons – heaven forbid they have to buy new letterheads. Others, like formerly left-wing historian Götz Aly, say they do not want to erase history. Endrias argues: “We need to remember history, but why remember it with the names of murderers?” There are, after all, no Hitler or Himmler streets to commemorate the Holocaust.

As long as they exist, however, the street names provide an impetus for Endrias and Berlin Postkolonial to bring attention to this little-known chapter in Germany’s history.

When these activists demand reparations, they are not primarily referring to money. Germany’s colonial crimes need to be discussed in schools and universities. The German government needs to apologise. And somebody really, really needs to get rid of the Afrikastein.

Revealing the Facts and Myths About D.C.'s Street System

Most people in D.C. know the basics of the city's street system: numbers, letters, quadrants and sometimes confusing diagonals and circles. Once you get outside of the original part of the city, the system changes a bit, but Curbed is here to tell you how you can understand the system to know where you are at all times, and to explain some of the misconceptions you may have heard about the plan.

This is probably clear, but the Capitol is the center of the quadrant system for the L'Enfant Plan of our capital city, the "ten miles square" which was authorized in the Constitution and designed in 1791 by Pierre Charles L'Enfant. However, you may have heard that the Capitol was chosen because it's the geographic center of the city. That's not true, and it wasn't true even before Virginia rudely took back the portion of the District west of the Potomac in 1846. The original center was around Foggy Bottom while the current geographic center is right where Interstate 395 intersects New York Avenue and 4th Street NW.

Also, the term "ten miles square" in the Constitution is sometimes misinterpreted too: the city isn't 10 square miles, the term means a square 10 miles on each side, or 100 square miles. That square was laid out by Major Andrew Ellicott (as in Ellicott City) and Benjamin Banneker, a free African American surveyor, astronomer and author. Many of the stones marking the square, called Boundary Stones, are still in place. (That also makes a good namesake for a bar, as the folks in Bloomingdale have discovered.)

The L'Enfant Plan covers the area from the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers to Rock Creek, up to what is now Florida Avenue. The street was formerly called Boundary Street, since after the street the land slopes quickly upwards, making it less than ideal for a city where walking and horses were the main form of transportation.

Numbers and Letters (and Alphabetical Syllables)

It's widely known that as you go east or west from the Capitol, the numbered streets increase, and as you go north or south, the letters increase. The lettered streets skip J, not because of some rivalry between somebody and Founding Father John Jay, but because at the time the letters I and J were used mostly interchangeably. GW's food court is named J Street, which provides devious students a trick to play on newbies, saying "meet me at J Street" as the students wander back and forth between I and K.

The lettered streets stop at W, not because anybody didn't like X, Y or Z, but because after W Street NW, you reach Florida Avenue (Boundary Street) and thus the end of the old city. Beyond Boundary Street you were in Washington County, which was mostly rural for much of the city's history.

Aside from the letters and numbers, there's more to D.C.'s street system. Once you're beyond the L'Enfant Plan, the streets are generally alphabetical starting with two syllable words. In Columbia Heights, look for Belmont, Clifton, the D is skipped, then Euclid, Fairmont, Girard, Harvard, Irving, and so on, up to Webster. These streets continue the pattern of skipping X, Y and Z. There are some exceptions to the alphabetical rule like Columbia Road and Park Road, and minor streets sometimes fit the pattern like Otis and Ogden, but those two syllables can help you orient yourself – so if you're at 14th and Quincy, you are roughly 17 blocks north of Florida Avenue, Q being the 17th letter. The same pattern happens west of Rock Creek with different street names (for example: Tilden, Upton, Van Ness versus Taylor, Upshur, Varnum) and it's roughly true east of the river too, though there it's not much of a grid – the two-syllable streets are mostly cities like Austin, Bangor, Camden, Denver, Erie, etc.

Beyond the two syllable streets, the pattern continues into three syllables: Albermarle, Brandywine, Chesapeake and so on in Northwest, and similarly named streets east of the river. In Southwest the pattern ends at Joliet, but with Northwest being so much bigger it goes all the way to Whittier, also skipping the X, Y and Z streets. This leads to some quirks, like the need to include a three syllable Q word, hence the fantastic Quackenbos Street NW, apparently named for a prominent political family. The names are different on the east side of Rock Creek Park here too, such as Allison, Buchanan and Crittenden and so on.

As you go farther north, after the three syllable words come flowers and trees in alphabetical order: Aspen, Butternut, Cedar and so on. This continues all the way up to the very northern tip of DC with Verbena Street NW, a type of flower. (The grid also falls apart up there, with Verbena running into Tamarack while Redwood and Spruce intersect.) But if you hit flowers and trees, you are way up there.

And then come the avenues. Named (mostly) for states, the avenues served as quicker forms of transportation and provided nice views towards important plazas and circles. Some say that the diagonals and their circles were designed as defense against cavalry attacks, but that's not true – most circles and plazas (and most circles were actually rectangular in L'Enfant's original plan) were placed where they were as a way to make it easier to orient yourself, as the distance between them is about the farthest distance a person can see, and to form the centers of neighborhoods. After all, it's easier to say you live in the Dupont Circle neighborhood than in the New Hampshire/Connecticut/19th/P area. Other earlier cities like Savannah, Georgia and Philadelphia are similarly organized around squares.

But not all the state avenues in the original plan are still there. Remember, of course, that when the plan was laid out there were only 13 states. Potomac Avenue in SE is one example: all the nearby diagonals are states, like Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Potomac is actually parallel to the Anacostia, rather than its own name. That's because it was originally Georgia Avenue. The street kept that name until the early 1900s, when Sen. Augustus Octavius Bacon from Georgia noticed how run down and neglected it had become, and considered that an affront to his state. He proposed renaming it Navy Yard Avenue, after the military base there, and then renaming what was Brightwood Avenue (aka Seventh Street Extended) to Georgia. It took a couple of years, but in 1909 Congress changed Georgia to Potomac and Brightwood to Georgia, despite opposition from Park View and Brightwood residents.

And another quirk is that not every state has an avenue: California is a Street in Adams Morgan, while Ohio has a Drive down to Hains Point. Some early maps show Columbia Road as California Avenue, with a Grant Circle where 14th and California would have met, but that didn't occur. There also used to be an Ohio Avenue as well, running from 15th Street between C and D NW to 12th Street NW. (See this 1851 map, for example.) It was removed when the Federal Triangle government complex was built in the early 1900s, and only in 1950 Ohio was put back on the map as Congress renamed Riverside Drive in West Potomac Park. Despite the nice location, Ohio has the fewest addresses of any state, according to the city's Master Address Repository. Many of the states remained small or got shortened over the years too, with Delaware, Washington, Louisiana, Indiana and others only occupying a few blocks. (Washington was originally Canal Street, as it was a canal in L'Enfant's Plan.) And despite being scattered throughout the city, it is possible to visit each street. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association, for example, organizes a 50 states bike ride (and a 13 colonies one for those less athletic folks.)

There are non-states with avenues too: Puerto Rico has an avenue near Catholic University, plus the Philippine islands of Luzon, Corregidor and Bataan and the Canadian province of Ontario have their own streets, roads or avenues. Only Luzon is a proper diagonal avenue, however, located north of Military Road NW.

"A Bootlegger's Story I. How I started

When the prohibition law passed I was a waiter at Sherry’s. I became a naturalized citizen of this country twenty years ago, and although I tried to get in the army they turned me down because my eyesight was not so good. So I kept on through the war at Sherry’s and during those days saved up a very good bank account. People were spending right and left, and on the gay nights tips were high—men going to France, you know, and giving a party before they left. One night a Major gave me a thousand-dollar bill. I owe it to my wife that I saved all the money I earned in those days, the last days before prohibition. She would take it away from me and whenever I asked her how much the bank account was she just laughed at me.

But when prohibition came and the wine cards at Sherry’s were torn up, my income deteriorated. I told my wife we would have to use the money in the bank now, but she said that was to start us off in a business of our own and I couldn’t have a penny of it. Pretty soon, without my knowing anything about it, she had started up a beauty parlor.

In the meantime, once or twice every night there would be somebody at Sherry’s who would ask me where to buy liquor. They seemed to think I ought to know and they would get mad when I told them I didn’t know. You see there were a lot of rich young men who had never really believed we would have prohibition, and they had not bought up anything at all. In the first six or seven months of prohibition, everything was very dry. There was no bootlegging to amount to anything. People obeyed the prohibition law then more than they ever have since. But the young men who knew me at Sherry’s seemed to take it very hard. I just thought the prohibition law was the end of everything, and began to look around for something else to do.

One night about six or seven months after prohibition I went home as usual. But about three minutes after I had entered the apartment, the bell rang and a little fellow who looked like a jockey was standing there. He said he had followed me all the way from the restaurant so that we could have a quiet talk in my apartment. I asked him who he was, but he just laughed and said one of my very good friends had sent him to see me.

Well, what he wanted to say was this. He asked me if there were not a lot of my old customers who were anxious to buy something to drink. I had to confess that this was true. He said he thought so, and that he was ready to help me give it to them. I told him I would get in trouble trying to sell liquor at the restaurant, and he laughed again. That wasn’t the way it would work, he said. I didn’t know much in those days.

He went on to say that a friend of his had a large supply of liquors available, very choice stuff, and that he wanted some arrangement for letting the men who could afford to pay for it know about it. With that he stood up quickly and said he would be leaving. After he was gone, I found an envelope on the table with $200 in it, and a card with an address on Forty-sixth Street. On the card was written, “Jean, drop around tomorrow.”

So the next day I went to the address. I had a long talk with a quiet fellow who said his name was Dolan. And the result of it was that I agreed to get the addresses of all my friends who came to Sherry’s, then quit my job and call on them at their homes.

I visited during the next week about fifteen or twenty young men. And every one of them offered to take as much as I could bring them. It was fine stuff, and the prices were high. I received $150 a case for Scotch whisky. Fifty dollars a case of that was my profit. But I had to have an automobile to deliver it, and so I conversed with my wife about selling the beauty shop. She wouldn’t do it, but she agreed to get me an automobile, and the next day we went out together and bought one.

For about a year I stayed in this business, just delivering Dolan’s stuff among my customers for a nice profit. The police never bothered me and never seemed to bother Dolan. I did not know the source of his supply. But in those early days there were not many bootleggers and the police did not seem to bother much about them. I made good money.

As time went on, Dolan reduced his prices. He said it was foolish just to go after wealthy men. He said everybody wanted liquor and if the prices were brought down everybody would buy it and the business increase. But it seemed to me that the quality of his goods began to deteriorate, and I was afraid to lower the prices to my customers for fear they would suspect something. As long as they were paying higher prices for their liquors than their friends, I knew they would think they were getting better stuff. And why not let them enjoy a little boasting? Anyway, I was not dealing in any poisonous hooch. It was real Scotch, just a little watered.

On my profits, I opened a little restaurant of my own about a year and a half after prohibition. I put a couple of barrels of wine in the cellar and sold it to my customers. I couldn’t see any harm in that, and my wife said it was ridiculous to think that was breaking any law. But by now the police were getting on to bootlegging. The cop on the beat found out about my wine and started coming in for a bottle every night. That was all right, but when he started bringing all of his friends and going up to the cash register as if it was his place and taking out a ten or twenty dollar bill whenever he felt like it, I got tired of it. I told him to cease doing that. And he said he would put me in jail if I resisted him.

But I did not intend to give all of my profits to the police and their friends, so about six months later I just closed up the restaurant.

About this time I decided to branch out and go after a larger trade. I heard that a man named Immerman—he is dead now—was getting a lot of stuff from Rum Row and Cuba, good Scotch and high-priced cordials which were very rare.

I went to see him with a man who took me to a room over a garage in Brooklyn. In the garage I could see trucks piled up with all sorts of high-class goods in cases. But Immerman told me that he was only running his goods in for a firm and could not do any business with me. I would have to see the firm in Times Square.

I went to this office and met the man who was introduced to me as the president. He would not talk until I told him to call up —— ———, a famous Broadway spender that he knew would be all right. This man told him I was entirely reliable.

The president—I prefer not to mention his name—took me entirely into his confidence. And he made me feel like a piker sure enough when he told me what his company was doing. He said they had dozens of men like myself working on commission, or rather as agents, and that I could make a million dollars if I would help them with the disposal of their goods. He said their big problem was distribution.

He told me the firm could supply me with any kind of liquor that I needed for my trade in any quantity. He would guarantee me protection. And also, he said, he would show me how to expand my business so that I would only have to direct it and let other men do the work. I paid him one thousand dollars, which he said was a partnership fee and went into the lawyers’ fund. It was my first step toward really big business in the bootlegging industry.

After I paid the president of the big liquor distributing syndicate my thousand dollars for the lawyer’s fund, he gave me a long talk about selling liquor. He said that rum peddling was a piker’s business and that his organization had developed a scientific system just like any other organization with goods to sell, such as the Standard Oil Company or the Uneeda Baking Company, for example. The firm had a small quantity of fine liquor, he said, that came in steadily through Canada and through boats from the West Indies. But this was only for sample purposes and was not used for actual deliveries.

He said: “Of course, we are not delivering genuine Scotch liquor or genuine anything else. We cannot get that stuff any longer. We have fifteen or twenty big plants which are converting alcohol into whisky and wine and cordials and I had just as soon drink it as the real stuff. I will guarantee that it would not harm a child. But, of course, the customer does not like that idea. He likes to think that he is getting the real goods. And as long as the stuff we sell does not hurt him, it helps business to make him think so. So the main job is to make him think he is getting the real goods. He just enjoys it that much more.”

Of course, he was not telling me anything that I did not already know. But he put it in a very interesting way and I could see that he was entirely right. Then he went on to tell me of the system that I was to use.

I told him I had $20,000 capital to work with and he said this was enough to make a good start. He told me to hire several fellows as my assistants and to rent an office in whatever section I wanted to work in. I told him that my main trade was in Wall Street and that I would get an office there.

He talked to me a long time, giving me suggestions. The most important thing, he kept saying, is to make your customers believe they are getting the real thing. He gave me a chart with the names of various brands of soap on it, and opposite the name of each brand was the name of some liquor. For instance, Ivory was Scotch whisky, Octagon was gin, and so on. Whenever I wished to take a delivery from one of the Brooklyn warehouses, he said, I should call the Times Square office and place my order for so many cases of soap, and see that everything was all right. He said they would always tell me over the phone where to go for the goods, as it was not kept in one place very long.

I hired three fellows and bought each of them a sailor’s cap. This was partly my idea and partly the president’s. I told them to call on all of my old customers and tell them that I had gone out of business, but had sent them to the customers because they were stewards on ocean liners and were smuggling in fine stuff. I became a silent partner, and never did see any of my customers personally again.

I made up cases out of regular suitcases for each of my men. Each suitcase had twelve compartments to hold twelve bottles, and my men would carry these around as sample cases. They would take orders on the basis of the samples and guarantee that if the goods did not come up to expectations the money would be refunded. I never have had to refund a nickel. People seem to have lost their taste, as far as liquor is concerned. They can’t tell the genuine article from a good imitation any time.

I did a lot of business. I bought three Buick coupés and fixed up the back seat to handle liquor. I took out the cushion entirely and then made a papier-mâché imitation which I covered with the tapestry so that it looked exactly like the regular cushion seat, except that it was entirely hollow underneath. My men could carry ten cases of liquor easily under that imitation cushion.

There were a lot more tricks that I used. I prepared speeches for each of my men. They would say to a customer that they had been furnishing liquor to important people ever since prohibition, and they would mention a lot of rich men’s names. Most of the time I stayed at my office, making up the orders that my men brought in and calling the Times Square headquarters to learn where I would procure the goods. At first I used a rented truck to carry the goods to a little garage where I would unload it into the coupés for delivery. But later I was able to buy my own truck.

At my wife’s beauty parlor, she told me, women were always asking her where they could buy something to drink. Most of them wanted wine, and I could get it for them from headquarters. So I had my wife give them the number of my office, if they were old customers that she could trust, and sold quite a lot of wine that way. The majority of the wine is mixed stuff. That is, we get in a small quantity of real wine from Canada and mix it with California wine. The real wine gives the flavor, or rather the aroma, and the California wine makes up the body. I used to know wines well in the days at Sherry’s. But nowadays they all seem to taste alike. But they do not taste bad. And even if they are not quite what the bottle says they are, there is nothing in them to hurt anybody.

The president told me that if my men were ever held up on a delivery by the police, they should mention the name of a man that he gave me. I had never heard of this man before. You never see his name in the papers. But he is a big politician, and is very much respected by every cop I ever met. I cannot tell you who he is.

I only had to use his name twice. One day I was in my office when one of my men called up to say that he had been stopped in front of a customer’s house in East Sixty-ninth Street. He said he had forgotten the name he was to mention, and I told it to him. A little while later he called me up again and said everything was all right.

There was one other time when I had to use this man’s name. It was some time later, and doesn’t really belong in this part of the story. It was last year, when I had begun running in my own stuff and not depending on the syndicate. I went one night with a big Packard touring car to Montauk Point and loaded up with Scotch whisky. I bought it from the captain of a river boat, who said he had just come in from Rum Row. I think he was lying and that his stuff came from Brooklyn, but it did not make much difference. I tasted it, and it wasn’t poison.

It is a long drive from Montauk Point and I was running very fast through the Island. Just after I passed —— two men in uniform stepped into the road and waved me down. They asked me where I thought I was going in such a hurry. Then one of them said, “What have you got in there?”

I answered that it was liquor.

They seemed very much surprised that I was so open about it, and made me turn around and head back to ——. But before I started along the road I said, “Did you ever hear of So-and-So?” and mentioned the name I have been speaking about.

“Hell” said one of the men. “Why didn’t you say you were working for him in the first place?” They walked away from the car, and I turned around and came on toward New York. But at the next town there were two men who stopped me and leaned into the car. They warned me not to go too fast or I was likely to be picked up by some cop who would not understand. I knew then that the two policemen who had stopped me at —— had telephoned to New York to verify my identity, and then telephoned to the next town ahead. If they had not received their O.K. from New York the next officers would have arrested me.

Toward the beginning of 1925, my business was so big that it nearly ran itself. My Wall Street office was full of clerks who knew their jobs, and never bothered me. And my street men—about ten of them, each with an automobile—knew their jobs too. So there wasn’t much for me to do. All I did was furnish the capital, and deliver instructions, and make the prices on all the goods we sold. I didn’t like this much. I never was a business man. Being a waiter at Sherry’s got me in the habit of dealing with people, especially rich people, and I began to miss it. So I moved my desk out of the Wall Street office and set up a little personal office in Times Square. Just for my own amusement I wanted to build up a small, select trade, which I could attend to myself.

That wasn’t hard. I knew plenty of rich and discriminating gentlemen and some of these had not lost their taste for good liquor. I got the address of one of them, and sent him a special present. It was a bottle of real Napoleon brandy—Bisquit Dubouché 1804. It cost me $110, but I thought it would be worth it to give to my friend, Mr. B. Well, it was. I sent it up one afternoon and by dinner time he was calling me up, begging me to get him some more. “I will pay anything you ask for it,” he said.

Pretty soon, I was doing a business of almost $10,000 a year with this man alone. High-class goods, practically all of it genuine stuff. And it was a pleasure to me to spend a week smuggling in a bottle of fine brandy or fine Cointreau from somebody on a ship, or some acquaintance who was coming back from Europe.

Naturally, this Mr. B. began telling his friends about me. In order to hold his friendship, I used to send him something very special about once a week. A case of genuine McCallum’s Perfection, say, or a dozen bottles of McDonald and Muir’s Highland Queen. He protested at first, saying he didn’t want to be under obligations to me. But pretty soon he got to the point where he would hint at the brand he wanted. And naturally, taking so much liquor for nothing he felt it his duty to tell his friends about me. Mr. B. was the best “outside man” I ever had, and he never knew it!

Among his friends, I was not so particular about the stuff I delivered. In the first place, there aren’t enough real goods to go around, and in the second place his friends couldn’t tell the difference. Even Mr. B., who had a good palate, got royally fooled one night. He came to dinner at my apartment—I have been living on Park Avenue for two years—and after dinner I got out two bottles of Scotch Whisky. One of them was a genuine bottle of Greenlees & Co.’s Old Parr, many years in the wood. The other was some stuff my men had made for me in New Jersey not thirty days before, using a base of smuggled, genuine stuff.

I asked Mr. B. to taste a bit out of each bottle. And he couldn’t tell the difference. The Old Parr was a little sweeter, a little thicker to the tongue. But the fake stuff was smooth, too. He thought it was very fine. Now, as a matter of fact, it was all right. It would not hurt anybody to drink it, for my men had made it carefully. They made it so well that I could sell it for $90 a case, when it cost me about $16 a case to produce.

This was the stuff I gave Mr. B.’s friends. And it was funny to see them get particular over the various brands. One of them said my Green Stripe was better than my Highland Queen. Same stuff in different bottles. But I can tell a better one than that.

Nearly everybody needs gin, and everybody knows that the so-called Gordon’s Gin is fake stuff. You can’t get any real Gordon’s in this country. But I struck upon the idea of a different package. I put out two packages, calling one of them a London Gin and the other a South American—that is, English manufacture in a South American package, export stuff. I sent a trial case of the London package to the president of a leading New York bank, but in about three days he sent it back. It wasn’t real stuff, he said, and he couldn’t drink it.

I went down to pay him a personal call, and explained that I thought he was in a hurry and the London stuff was all I had at the moment. If he was willing to wait a week, I told him, a South American ship would be in with a quantity of real London Gin, packed for Brazilian export. The price I gave him on this was much higher than the original sale, but I explained that the South American stuff was really a rare article and cost me a lot. The bank president was very eager, and said he would wait.

Well, in a week I sent him down a case of the South American stuff and took his check. He called me up that night to tell me how fine it was, and that he wanted some more, at any price. Of course, it was exactly the same gin that I had sent him in the London bottles. But he was having a great time fooling himself, the liquor would not hurt him, and he could afford to pay for it.

For this special trade of mine—these ten or twelve friends of Mr. B.—I went to special pains to make my liquor look genuine. I bought my bottles from a firm in the Middle West, in lots of ten thousand, perfect imitations of real Scotch bottles. The liquor was made up from Scotch malt that was landed on the Jersey shore. I got hold of one hundred barrels and cut it into fifteen thousand cases of liquor, using the malt for a base, for flavor and so on, and filling out the body with government alcohol redistilled and water.

I had all of this stuff bottled by hand, of course. Two good men can turn out fifty cases of bottled stuff a day. We used specially stamped corks, and inserted them carefully so they would pop when they were drawn. The metal caps were tested by hand to be sure that they were tight, and the loose ones fixed by twisting a cord rapidly around them, and then releasing it. The tissue wrappers were wound tightly around the bottles, and then the bottles were put in salt solution. After they were thoroughly soaked they were laid on a rack built above the furnace so that the paper tissue would stick to the bottle when the customer tried to unwrap it.

The labels came to me by mail from Germany, and were quite expensive, fifty cents for a set of twelve. They were printed in England, on English paper, and were exact duplications of the real thing. For all I know, they were done by the same printer who has the distillery contracts. At one time, I went so far as to import bottle straws, because I noticed that the English straw wrapping is made of smaller straws and is slightly darker in color than the local product. Of course, I didn’t believe that any of my customers would notice this. But you see I was enjoying myself by making up the most perfect package I could.

When it was done, I assure you, you couldn’t have told my product from the genuine article to save your life. I even went so far as to spread the white of an egg over the cork before putting the metal cap on. This made it look as if the salt water had gotten in there. No, you could not have told the difference. And unless you were a real expert, just come from England, or from a stock of pre-war stuff, you could not have found any difference in the taste, either. On the whole, I was selling pretty pure and smooth liquor, even if it was fake.

I have made a lot of money. My wife handles all the cash, but I believe we have more than $100,000 invested in safe securities right now. I have never been arrested, and none of my men have ever been arrested except one, and his case never came to trial. I turned it over to the president of the syndicate, the man I have been paying $3,000 or $4,000 a year to, for “the legal fund,” and one day a lawyer called me to say the case was all over and never would be tried. I don’t know how they worked it and I don’t care. I’ve been paying that much a year just to keep from being worried by things like that.

I have about told my own story, but in the last two years I have seen a lot of how the other fellows work. There are a dozen different ways from mine, and they might be interesting.

I have been in every kind of liquor selling place from Kid Mullins’ Sawdust Inn on the East Side to the dining rooms of the best hotels. Of course, I don’t mean that the hotels themselves sell booze, but you often read that waiters are arrested for selling to customers. And most of the men in the game are so good they can convince all their customers, all the time, that their establishment is the only one in town selling the real stuff.

Like everybody else, I guess, you have done some of your drinking in the speakeasies in the uptown cross streets, east and west of the Avenue. It might interest you to know that these places, most of them, are operated by syndicates. It is necessary to have syndicates to avoid the padlocking danger. If a lone man is running a speakeasy, he is always in danger of being closed up. All he has to do is make a policeman mad, or fail to pay a prohibition agent as much as the agent thinks he deserves. And if he were running his business alone, his livelihood would be cut off.

So the syndicates operate a good many of them. Not all, of course. There are plenty of independent bootleggers. But take a block like Forty— Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. There are, to my knowledge, thirty-two places in this block selling whisky. Some of them are restaurants, too, but most of them are simply drinking parlors. Well, out of these thirty-two places, twenty-five are owned by one firm. The firm has an office in Times Square, just an ordinary business office, and as far as they are concerned there is nothing unusual about the business they conduct. At each of the places they operate, they keep the rent paid for a year in advance, all the time. They do this so that if the place is padlocked, the landlord will not suffer from it. If one of the places is closed up, the rest keep right on doing business, taking care of the customers who have been turned out of the padlocked place, and nobody loses much.

There are more waiters in the bootlegger’s business, I believe, than any other profession. You see, a man with any intelligence is not going to be content with the small profits of a waiter’s job nowadays, when he can’t sell wine and make his customers give him big tips. But there are plenty of other kinds of people who have come into the business for its easy profits and its quiet life.

I know, for instance, a former doctor who is now running an “apartment barroom” rather far uptown, just off Broadway. This fellow got his medical degree and began practicing in his home town. He was made city physician, and one of his jobs was to make inspections in the segregated district. They caught him one day making illegal operations, and disbarred him from the profession. He went right into bootlegging.

And his system is just about like that of most of these apartment barrooms. He has, in reality, two apartments at the top of a large building. One has its parlor fitted up very expensively, and it is here that he entertains his guests. But he goes pretty far with his system. If three people come in and want a drink, he asks one of them to go with him to the kitchen. There the drinks are poured from a bottle, and the customer pays. You see, there are only two men in the room, and there are no witnesses to the transaction. Also, that one bottle is all the liquor that is in the apartment. The rest is hidden upstairs.

Even if the detectives came crashing in, they would only find a few people sitting around drinking, and a half bottle of liquor in the kitchen. It would be impossible for the agents to get witnesses to a sale, and the bootlegger could only be arrested for possession—not for selling. He could also show that he was entertaining guests in his residence, and could claim that the bottle of liquor was pre-war stock and he was giving his friends a drink. This man keeps a job on the side, though of course he never works at it. Still, in the case of a trial, it would be hard to prove that he is not a law-abiding citizen.

Of course, there are all varieties of secrecy. This doctor’s system is one of the most elaborate, and I don’t believe he pays a cent to anybody for protection. On the other hand, you can go to some places, further downtown, and walk right in from the street, put your foot on the brass rail, and order a highball. They are pretty wide open, these places. And they pay for the privilege, too, believe me. As far as I can decide, from asking questions here and there, it costs the proprietor of the average drinking place $150 a week for protection from arrest. I am not saying whether he pays this to the police, or the prohibition agents, or the politicians, or legal syndicates—who are really nothing more than politicians themselves.

Of course, you get all kinds of liquor, going about from place to place. There is not much inducement to the average bootlegger to sell good stuff. He has to pay big prices for it, and his customers don’t know the difference. But I don’t believe there is any really poisonous liquor being sold in New York at all. I know that I never struck any. By poisonous, I mean really deadly stuff that would kill a man. Of course, some of it isn’t very good for the digestion, over a long time.

In the clubs, that is among the clubmen of New York, a new game has just started up. Most of the men who practice it are young and pleasant foreigners, well educated young English or Frenchmen. One will make a few friends, because Americans have a failing for foreigners, and one night he will announce that one of his acquaintances, an old aristocratic gentleman, is in financial difficulties and has thought up the scheme of selling his cellar. It is a wonderful cellar, the young gentleman will say, worth about $70,000. Most of the stuff in it came from the cellar of some big restaurant when it closed up shop after prohibition came. But the aristocratic friend is extremely afraid of being suspected, or caught, and he doesn’t quite know what to do about it.

Before he knows it, the friend of this young foreigner has put his name down for thirty or forty cases, and suggested that the young man meet him at the club next day, where other gentlemen might be interested. The next day, you may be sure, the young foreigner will show up, and the friends of his friend will cluster about him.

“But I don’t like this,” he will say in an embarrassed way. “I don’t like to make a barroom out of your club.”

They will quiet him, and all of them together will order seventy-five or a hundred cases. He will tell them that to avoid suspicion he can only deliver five or six cases at a time, and they will agree. And this gives the young English or Frenchman time to get his supply together, and saves his credit with the wholesalers, who would not let him have a hundred cases at once without cash in hand, but will give him five or ten a day and collect the cash after he has made his delivery, and gotten his own check.

That’s the way it goes. Your best friend might be a bootlegger and you never would know it. There are all kinds and classes in the business, but I am always glad that I started off my business on a high-class plane, getting good customers and charging them high prices. If my stuff isn’t real, nobody is hurt unless he finds it out, and then it only hurts his pride. It doesn’t hurt his body. And some of the stuff I sell is the genuine article. I have gotten rich, but I have made a lot of people happy. I have never run across a man in my life who refused to take a drink because it was against the law, and I have never met a man who thought I was a crook, just because I am a bootlegger and proud of it. ♦

What's the reason for wider streets in East Germany? - History

Nope, no rhyme or reason to it here. Avenues and streets seem to come up randomly. Sometimes it seems like more major roads are called “avenue”, but even that doesn’t explain all of them.

I was fascinated by the system used in Portland, OR, where the city is divided into quadrants and each street contains a NW NE SW SE in its name which will tell you what quadrant of the city you’re in. Then in Phoenix you have the same street names carrying for miles along a certain latitude even if the streets are not all connected. The craziest is Salt Lake City where the streets are just numbers with no street designation, like 6700 W. I live at 15200 6700 W. That must be a fun address to tell people.

Demosthenes ( 11974 />) “Great Answer” ( 3 />)

In most of Atlanta, because of the topography, there is no such thing as straight roads or a grid system. So the street/avenue/road thing going one direction or another doesn’t really apply.

On the other hand, we have something like 65 streets with “Peachtree” as part of the street name.

elbanditoroso ( 29885 />) “Great Answer” ( 1 />)

In New York City the avenues run north south the numbered streets run east west.

In San Francisco, the numbered streets run north south. The numbered Avenues run north south too. The alphabetized streets run east west, from Irving at the north, to Wawona at the south.

@RedDeerGuy1 There is no universal dictate to laying out city streets, so they aren’t “reversed”. One could posit that the city of Red Deer got it wrong. But that wouldn’t be nice or polite.

zenvelo ( 36359 />) “Great Answer” ( 1 />)

I used to live in Baltimore, Maryland. The streets there are laid out like wagon wheel spokes, so any N, S, E, W is an approximation at best.
Another thing I found interesting is how it is like a city of clustered ethnic villages.

Patty_Melt ( 16323 />) “Great Answer” ( 1 />)

Our city has:

Tropical_Willie ( 27788 />) “Great Answer” ( 1 />)

@Demosthenes I grew up in Salt Lake City. Your explanation isn’t quite right. A typical address in Salt Lake looks like this: 2150 East 13400 South. Salt Lake is based on a grid system, and once you get used to it, it makes navigating not too bad. For a lot of addresses you don’t even need a map let alone a GPS.

@RedDeerGuy1 If Red Deer is has named their streets north and south and east and west, you’d feel quite comfortable there.

snowberry ( 25092 />) “Great Answer” ( 1 />)

It varies around Florida. The Miami area Avenues and Roads run north south and streets east west, but two counties up from there some major avenues are east west.

I haven’t thought about it in the county I live in now. I live on a Way, and that bends around, the Roads seem to be east west, the Blvd’s north south, but I don’t know if there are rules governing it in the county, or if it is more random here.

JLeslie ( 61038 />) “Great Answer” ( 1 />)

In my town, and in my experience, avenues tend to be more major thoroughfares than streets, but not quite as wide as a Boulevard. And a Road connects two communities. A drive winds around.

zenvelo ( 36359 />) “Great Answer” ( 1 />)

I’ve always thought the streets/avenues system was based on proximity to downtown.

Avenues run outward/away from the downtown hub Streets kind of mark the distance from the downtown hub, crossing the avenues.

Yellowdog ( 12093 />) “Great Answer” ( 2 />)

They run every which way here. Avenue, street, road, parkway, boulevard. We have one plaisance.

The only regular schemes are the numbered streets running east-west on the south side, and the boulevards.

The street numbers, 18th, 52st, 111th, etc., increase with distance from downtown.

The boulevards have large grassy medians, and they connect big city parks.

Call_Me_Jay ( 12746 />) “Great Answer” ( 1 />)

In Seattle, the streets wobble a lot due to hills, cliffs, history, and bodies of water, but the general scheme is:

Avenues run North-South.
Streets run East-West.
Boulevards do what they want, often curving along through parks or along lakes.

Zaku ( 26387 />) “Great Answer” ( 1 />)

In Boston, God only knows how the streets are ordered. Aves, streets, roads, and boulevards go out in any direction not even limited to the cardinal directions. Streets don’t even run straight. Just look at a street map of Dorchester and you’ll know what I mean.

dxs ( 15160 />) “Great Answer” ( 1 />)

Our small town has one main intersection. It is the traffic light that controls “traffic” on North Ave,, South Ave,, East Ave., and West Ave, Clearly the founding fathers here were not very imaginative.

LuckyGuy ( 39448 />) “Great Answer” ( 2 />)

Romanov Ascendant: What if the Soviet Union survived?

The American Presidential Election of 1992: Part One
The board of four moderators sat facing the three candidates. Four older men and one woman, all highly respected journalists. The head moderator was speaking “… as agreed upon by the Perot, Bush and Clinton campaigns, there are no restrictions on the subject matter of the questions. Each candidate will have up to two minutes to make a closing statement, the order was determined by a fair drawing. The first question will go to Perot. The topic is what differentiates each of you from the other.”

“What is the single most defining and separating issue of this campaign?”

“The principal issue in my campaign, is the five and a half million Americans who put me on the ballot. I am not on the ballot on the ticket of any of the parties, and only because my conscious and my desire for a better America motivated me to go forward. As the only candidate immune to the money of lobbyists and special interests, my candidacy is a movement which came from the people. This is the way that the framers of our constitution intended our government to be, a government that comes from the people. Over time we have developed a government that comes at the people, from the top down! With people being treated as objects to be programed during the campaign with commercials and media events with fear messages and personal attacks. In a way, both of my opponents are the same person.”

Ross Perot’s answer struck the audience, and visibly irritated President Bush. Clinton however was not affected. He delivered one of his trademark speeches, punctuated by his charisma. “The most important distinction is that I represent real hope for change. A departure from trickledown economics, a departure from tax and spend economics and from the clear and consistent failures of the president’s failures to confront the fight against freedom occurring across the globe. During his tenure, the cause of democracy has been weakened not strengthened. While I have the absolute respect for the President, and his predecessor, what you have done has not worked. I challenged the American people to change, because we need to change if we want to bring prosperity back to our economy and tyrannical communist despotism on the defensive.”

The President was tense, he suppressed his thoughts about the polls, about how his entire campaign rested on his performance tonight. He felt himself at the cusp of sweating, yet his life as a CIA company man taught him a few tricks, he was not going to be outdone by a hotshot democrat or some insane Texan usurper. However, he had little ammunition, and had to go on the attack immediately. “Well, I think one thing that distinguishes between myself, and my two opponents, is by far and large experience. It is one thing for the Governor of Arkansas and a respectable businessman to criticize my leadership, yet they offer no alternative. The fact is that American people and the American way of life is facing an enemy capable of opposing it at a level that has seldom existed. When I was Vice President, working closely with President Reagan, we were squeezing them, and we know that we were winning. But they adapted, they accepted strongman rule in a desperate attempt to prevent the inevitable triumph of democracy and the freedom of markets. I can guarantee one thing to the American voter, is that if their faith is placed in me, I can and will continue the policies of myself and predecessor, and roll back the Soviet Union.”

The debate proceeded, with Bush and Clinton primarily directing their arguments and energies against each other. Bush hit Clinton for organizing protests against his own country, for being an unpatriotic youth while he served in the Armed Forces. Clinton followed by hammering Bush for unnecessary levels of defense spending, trickledown economics, inefficiencies in the Pentagon and the failure of his foreign intervention in Iraq and inability to maintain the Carter doctrine. Bush responded by pointing out the inconsistency and tried to turn the debate around on Clinton by arguing that while he was talking tough, he was also talking about lowering defensive spending when America needed it most. This was Bush’s high point, as Clinton was forced to get into unnecessary nuance to clarify his statement, which only made him appear weak.

But now it was Ross Perot’s turn.

Ross delivered a sensible chuckle. “The American people can make their own decisions on character they don’t need their minds made up for them. We have work to do, and we need immediate action. What neither the Republican and Democratic candidate have failed to do is reference the solid data, which demonstrates the direction the American economy is heading with their failed policies. We cannot pay off the four trillion dollar debt, balance the budget without having the revenue. The interventionist policies of my opponents are destroying the economy. What America needs, to face its competitors is to rely on it’s strengths, those being innovation, industry and willingness to develop in the face of adversity, and not on it’s weaknesses getting bogged down in wars that our forefathers would have derided as the foolish waste of lives in conflicts well away from America.”

During the first debate, on October 11th 1992. Both Bush and Clinton initially focused on each other, trading glances and knowing looks when Perot would speak. By the end, they were both pressed, as it was becoming increasingly clear that this man, an independent. Had the capacity to threaten them. On the second debate, Perot hammered both of them on NAFTA, and the great sucking sound of American jobs being sucked out to Mexico and the third world as it’s inevitable result. Bush tried to challenge his foreign policy, asking how a businessman with no political or military experience expected to be able to confront the Soviet Union. In one of the most embarrassing gaffs of the campaign, Perot asked, how did that service serve him? After the second debate, the race was becoming one increasingly between Perot and Clinton.


The American Presidential Election of 1992: Part Two
The Campaign continued for months until the faithful day in November. Ross Perot was highly motivated, worked with his campaign advisors who had secured him the endorsement of figures as diverse as Donald Trump, Pat Buchanan and even managed to get an acknowledgement from the NAACP, when his advisors assisted him in dealing with what could have been a difficult and potentially campaign threatening gaff. Several successful appearances on the today show combined with an expensive media campaign that Perot had to be convinced off in an extremely difficult fashion, was only saved in the last minute by Donald Trump's offers to donate to the media campaign. He even filmed him his own commercial, that was derided as a off topic spectacle, but served its purpose in being controversial enough to push Perot's message at the last hour. Clinton, Perot's primary competitor at the time's only weapon was to try to paint Perot as a politician himself, but these efforts proved generally unsuccessful. The self made billionaire folk hero proved more appealing to the general population of America, suffering from serious economic recession, than a fast talking yale graduate with no military service. This was compounded by Perot's time as a POW in Vietnam, and what appeared to be his honourable and admirable stance against unnecessary war.

This would contribute to one of the biggest upsets in modern American political history, an event that would be discussed, evaluated and dissected by historians, political analysts and pundits. From those keen to ensure it would never happen again, to others wishing to repeat it's success.

While the electoral college revolted against the popular vote in many states where Ross Perot managed to succeed, It had become clear that Perot had managed to win the popular vote in the United States. This shocking upset shook the political establishment to the core, and even Perot was said to have been surprised by the results. Even more upsettingly was that neither candidate had enough votes in the electoral college to actually win the presidency. Resulting in the first contingent election in the United States since 1836. While many Republicans choose to vote for Perot, they also choose to vote specifically for republican candidates in the house and senate. The Democrats managed to win 212 seats in the house of representatives, the republicans managed to win 208, whereas 15 independents were elected. While the possibility of this situation was considered, it was mostly considered highly unlikely, and that Bill Clinton was the clear front runner in the race. The newly elected house was under severe pressure, compounded by the Soviet Union's propaganda arm as well as what was clearly becoming deadlock in the house to select the president. The Republicans were never going to submit to Clinton, and the democrats were never going to give into Bush. There were many democrats more sympathic to Perot than Clinton as well. Some protests broke out, as many argued it was clear that Perot had the rightful mandate. After several days of bickering, filibustering and severe arguing, the solution finally came about. Republicans and some defected democrats voted to institute Ross Perot as the 42nd President of the United States. The democrat controlled senate voted to institute Senator Al Gore as his Vice President.



Nitpick: I am guessing it was supposed to be May, after all?

Also I find it interesting that the leader of SU is named Romanov, like the last Tzar. (yes, I know it's most likely a coincidence, but still. )

King Nazar

I like that Clinton is running to Bush's right on foreign policy. Reminds me of JFK v Nixon in 1960 where Kennedy hammered Nixon on the made up "missile gap."

I am skeptical that Perot would have done that well in the south considering that he was running against Bill Clinton who would no doubt win Arkansas. Also at this point West Virginia was reliably Democratic due to the relatively high unionization of the workforce in that state.

I don't think the Democrats would have lost their House majority (a lot of those seats were holdovers from the days of the Democratic Solid South). Also the Democratic Senate would not vote in Bill Clinton to be the VP but rather Al Gore since he was the running mate on the ticket.


I like that Clinton is running to Bush's right on foreign policy. Reminds me of JFK v Nixon in 1960 where Kennedy hammered Nixon on the made up "missile gap."

I am skeptical that Perot would have done that well in the south considering that he was running against Bill Clinton who would no doubt win Arkansas. Also at this point West Virginia was reliably Democratic due to the relatively high unionization of the workforce in that state.

I don't think the Democrats would have lost their House majority (a lot of those seats were holdovers from the days of the Democratic Solid South). Also the Democratic Senate would not vote in Bill Clinton to be the VP but rather Al Gore since he was the running mate on the ticket.

Belka DNW


Just a note on the timeline as a whole and methodology wise, I could see why some may see me as pushing Perot for the sake of narrative, but in the interest I'm defending my decision to give him the presidency I'll make my argument as to why I think it is plausible in this time line.

Geopolitics and international culture were shaped directly and indirectly by the fall of the Soviet Union in nearly innumerable ways, it essentially turned the neoliberal myth, developing in western academia in the 1970s and 1980s into reality. During the 1980's, the Soviet Union could still be wrote off as an aberration, especially by making use of both real and propagandized accounts of it's quality of life and living standards. For the vast majority of baby boomers, as opposed to those born in the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s, there was absolutely nothing of substance to Soviet Union's ideology. For the liberal academics it was a historical aberration, with many views of it no doubt influenced by orientalist undertones. It's ineffective, inefficient and (in some people's eyes) impossible economy were simply just weaknesses in the fortress of what was viewed as just an Eastern European despotism. Not only was it antithetical to the values of liberty, freedom and liberal democracy, that had proven triumphant in the vast majority of the developed world, but it was also a vindication that these values were the only way to create a prosperous society.

By 1992 in our timeline, this view isn't crumbling completely, and in fact as we continue on I'll pay more attention to the historiographical and academic explanations on both sides. However, by managing to turn around the stagnation in the Soviet Union, and creating a living standard that was 'decent', and to the majority of the periphery of the capitalist world, massively enviable, the world's cultural, philosophical and political development have been altered in a way that is difficult to theorize, but would most likely be extraordinary. Just as if Germany won the first world war or etc. During the 1980's of this timeline, Reagan's charismatic politics rallied Americans, there was no one to side with the commies or threaten America. But when it came down to it, no one was willing to support nuclear or conventional war to force the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan. There was nothing that rhetoric could do when East German protestors were tear gassed and crushed by the might of Stasi, KdA and Soviet Military Police when they attempted to force their way through the Berlin wall. While such actions were infamous, they were no where on the level of infamy that Brezhnev had achieved in 1968 in Prague. General Secretary Romanov as I said in the beginning is kind of a Putin figure, his strongman methods necessary for him to achieve his ambition of keeping his country afloat, and promoting his ideology. He isn't submissive like Gorbachev, he allows for the creation of an alternative 'view' or cultural zietgiest in the world slowly creeping into the west via European communists and some radical academics. While some of it is clearly just fake news, it was also rooted in marxist-leninist theorizing that was ideologically consistent. The propaganda however was twisted and machiavellian, criticizing the west for repressing minorities and homosexuals, while on the other hand implying that western rootless cosmopolitans intended for the homosexualization and destruction of traditional values anywhere and everywhere, these campaigns financed by the Soviet economy that was more or less more successful, becoming a basis of export of cheap consumer products, natural resources and armaments. Of course, they were not without their own weaknesses, and as we see the state of repression will began to create it's own enemies. The Soviet Union itself was becoming some kind of odd, self contradictory still somewhat Marxist Leninist state while tending towards autocracy. Where feminism was touted as a state policy, women allowed into politics/workforce but birth control was restricted in the interests of demographic policy. Where religion was technically free but many churches and mosques are shut down as subversive centers.

Ross Perot managed to win the election in this timeline because Americans became dismayed with fierce cold war rhetoric that did not appear to actually attain any results, frustrated with a declining economy, and were overwhelmingly won over by arguments against NAFTA. Perot, unlike in OTL, managed a better led campaign that appealed to the American working class, weaponizing nostalgia and the fact that Bush Senior and Clinton, didn't really seem that different meaning I feel I definitely did not veer into ASB tier content with this. We do in fact have evidence from our own time that malaise could sweep into American politics and produce these kinds of radical results, and the Soviet Union managing to turn around it's stagnation and decline would definitely do that. Of course let me know what you think, as we go on the increasing complexity of trying to develop a modern world with this cultural development will require suggestion and hopefully even more collaboration, as I've already had some help from others including 22000Kevin, King Nazar's suggestions and Rajveer Naha's suggestions regarding India and South East Asia. I'm really interested in ideas on how popular culture would develop and react to these series of events.


Chapter Three - Flashback: The Unrest of 1988-1989
George McConnel - Historian - Author of 'The Rise of Romanov: A Biographical History' Published 1999
(Page 137)
"Romanov was adept at pushing both the programs of acceleration and discipline from the top down within the Soviet Union itself. According to both the works of the defectors Anzhelina Grigoreva and M. Sokolo, the KGB was given nearly free reign to both exile troublesome dissidents to settlements in Eastern Russia, intellectuals to closed cities, or to simply make troublesome party functionaries disappear. It didn't take long for Soviet society and even the party to get the message, there is absolutely no basis to the denialism of both leftist historians and academics as well as Soviet historians themselves that Romanov, while perhaps not a "Stalinist" had no problem appropriating Stalin's methods of fear and political terrorism. But again as mentioned by our sources, the repression and elimination of both the corrupt and politically inconvenient did allow for the consolidation of the Soviet bureaucracy. Many ambitious young men denounced older, Brezhnev era appointees to force their retirement, and touted the Romanov line, whatever it was at any given time. While many of these sycophants were incompetent yesmen, others used the opportunity to move up. As self management was instituted in industries, a system of rewards (or bribes depending on who you asked) were rewarded based on productivity, these rewards including vacations, material goods, alcohol, items or food from the west, annulments of conscription (usually for ones children) and preferential choice in housing. A special branch of the KGB issued these rewards and conducted the investigations and examinations themselves. All of the self managed industries or "companies" were still owned by their worker committees, so while abuse was possible, it was not widespread enough to either seriously hamper productivity or create unrest in laborers.

The overall attitude in Soviet society was that while the communists were stealing, at least they were getting a piece of the action themselves, and through the thoroughly ingrained nihilistic and materialistic outlook, that's all that really mattered to the vast majority of the urban population or rural elite. It gave the propaganda system more steam, especially when Romanov managed to seemingly miraculously win the war in Afghanistan. Not that anyone in the Soviet Union would know of the means he took to make that happen. Although that is a topic that will be discussed later where we focus on the absentia Hague trial in 1997.

(Page 143)
While there were some improvements in the Warsaw Pact puppet states, in reality the only real or tangible improvement which occurred there initially only happened because of Soviet payments financed by their natural gas and oil exports, which had allowed these states to import consumer goods that were in crisis levels of shortage. They didn't want a repeat of an incident in Bulgaria in the mid 1980's, where cheaply imported expired baby formula resulted in a near epidemic of sick children and a rise in infant mortality. The sense of malaise, regime fatigue and resistance was boiling over, yet it was not yet as ideologically defined as it would become in the early and mid 1990's. The unrest culminated in three particular events, the first being the Solidarity episode in Poland, which resulted in martial law and a limited deployment of the Soviet Military and KGB, assisting the Polish security service in to rooting it out.

The scale of the repression and deaths of these events would not become clear until the leak of a Polish Government document to the west in 1994. The unrest would continue in Poland for nearly a decade, finally culminating in the terrorism of the Neo-Solidarność Front and the Unified Front for a Free Poland. In the summer of 1989, in an event that became highly publicized as the 'East Berlin Riots', culminated from a small scale protest into a full scale riot. Tens of thousands of protestors, organized through churches and opposition groups demanded that the wall be taken down, Honecker resign and self determination be returned to eastern Germany. Honecker responded with his security forces, who failed to dislodge the protestors, even after armored cars, tear gas and columns of riot police attempted to charged into the center of the demonstrators who had sorrounded the gates and wall. It's not known how many died during that faithful night in June 13th. I personally watched, from a rooftop in West Berlin, as many West Germans demonstrated in unity with those in the east. By the next day, a state of emergency was declared, tanks filled the streets, East German militia and Soviet military police armed with rubber bullets, batons and gas broke the resolve of the crowd.

The third event has far less sources, other than secondary accounts from emmigrants, but supposedly an attempted insurrection in by Hungarians or miners in Timisoara, Romania was brutally suppressed, leading to riots in Bucharest that were only calmed down when Romanian dictator Ceausecu had to flee to the Soviet embassy and beg Romanov to intervene, signing concessions and allowing for the permanent deployment of the Soviet Army in Romania. Declassified reports from both the CIA and DoD do in fact confirm that in December, an airborne contingent, theorized to be either the 98th Guards Airborne Division or elements of the 103rd Guards Airborne Division were deployed to Romania in rapid fashion. Satellite imagery of this has only been recently declassified"

King Nazar

I do agree that Americans would be quite fed up with 12 years of Reagan and Bush's hawkish foreign policy and an economic policy that mostly favours the wealthy. This would certainly give an opening for a relative outsider (Clinton was seen as a Washington outsider since he was the governor of a poor state far from DC), however I feel that for structural reasons American elections overwhelmingly favour the two big parties. The only way I could see a Perot type of candidate winning would be to do what Trump did and win the primaries of one of the big parties.

Think of the election of 1980 where the conditions were somewhat similar to this TL's 1992. Voters remembered the Republican party as the party of Watergate, the pardoning of Nixon, the escalation of the Vietnam War as well as the Fall of Saigon. However, they also felt that Carter was too incompetent and there was a sense of malaise in the country. An "outsider" governor from California named Ronald Reagan won that election while there was a viable third party option in John Anderson who was polling quite well for some time.

Anyway, historically Clinton didn't really do much to change the direction of the country from the policies of the Reagan and Bush era. This would contribute to the increasing apathy and cynicism Americans felt towards their government. However, this sentiment didn't led to the growth of third parties, just an angrier and more populist Republican party and decreasing voter turnout in the 90s. I think voter turnout in the 1996 election was below 50%.

I don't think that Perot winning is ASB its just that I feel like the American electoral system makes a third party victory extremely unlikely and the Soviet Union still existing won't change that.

Nevertheless it is your TL and I'm gonna keep following it no matter what direction you take it.

As far as pop culture is concerned, I think the mood of the 90s would probably be a bit more cynical and less caught up in the optimism of the "end of history." I could see Grunge music being even more prominent among young people. I could see more 1980s style social activism around nukes and nuclear disarmament. There would be a greater sense that the world is very fragile so maybe environmentalism is stronger. In academic culture maybe post-modernism becomes less prominent in the social sciences with a resurgent Soviet Union that exists as an alternative system. In general though I feel like American culture tends to be fairly insular and not really all that influenced by trends outside America so its also possible that the 90s still feel like the 90s just with more paranoia about nuclear war.


I do agree that Americans would be quite fed up with 12 years of Reagan and Bush's hawkish foreign policy and an economic policy that mostly favours the wealthy. This would certainly give an opening for a relative outsider (Clinton was seen as a Washington outsider since he was the governor of a poor state far from DC), however I feel that for structural reasons American elections overwhelmingly favour the two big parties. The only way I could see a Perot type of candidate winning would be to do what Trump did and win the primaries of one of the big parties.

Think of the election of 1980 where the conditions were somewhat similar to this TL's 1992. Voters remembered the Republican party as the party of Watergate, the pardoning of Nixon, the escalation of the Vietnam War as well as the Fall of Saigon. However, they also felt that Carter was too incompetent and there was a sense of malaise in the country. An "outsider" governor from California named Ronald Reagan won that election while there was a viable third party option in John Anderson who was polling quite well for some time.

Anyway, historically Clinton didn't really do much to change the direction of the country from the policies of the Reagan and Bush era. This would contribute to the increasing apathy and cynicism Americans felt towards their government. However, this sentiment didn't led to the growth of third parties, just an angrier and more populist Republican party and decreasing voter turnout in the 90s. I think voter turnout in the 1996 election was below 50%.

I don't think that Perot winning is ASB its just that I feel like the American electoral system makes a third party victory extremely unlikely and the Soviet Union still existing won't change that.

Nevertheless it is your TL and I'm gonna keep following it no matter what direction you take it.

As far as pop culture is concerned, I think the mood of the 90s would probably be a bit more cynical and less caught up in the optimism of the "end of history." I could see Grunge music being even more prominent among young people. I could see more 1980s style social activism around nukes and nuclear disarmament. There would be a greater sense that the world is very fragile so maybe environmentalism is stronger. In academic culture maybe post-modernism becomes less prominent in the social sciences with a resurgent Soviet Union that exists as an alternative system. In general though I feel like American culture tends to be fairly insular and not really all that influenced by trends outside America so its also possible that the 90s still feel like the 90s just with more paranoia about nuclear war.

Don't get me wrong that who argument note wasn't directed at the Bill Clinton argument or you, in fact I would say your version of events is the more likely event probability wise and I do feel like I am going a little wild with a Perot presidency. But my approach or view of history is that there events with differing probabilities of occurring, Perot winning the presidency, or even a contingent election in the first place is an event I feel like would have a 5-15% likelihood of happening, if that. But if the election was contentious enough, and neither party hit 270, I found the notion of Perot picked in the house as a moderate candidate to stifle each of the other parties as what we would end up seeing as a fluke. Him actually getting the presidency is also completely different from governing. In the end, it also wouldn't change a lot from Perot managing to get win the election as a democrat, which was also something I considered, at least until 1996. But also I will admit that when it does come to American history and politics, it is definitely not my area of expertise.

But then again in TL terms it's thematically ironic. When the Soviet system failed to deliver a decisive victory over capitalism, they went to the outsider/reformer, whereas in this timeline, the American system failed to give the decisive victory. With that 'flashback' update I made, I also wanted to paint a picture that would highlight where the cynicism would come from, that political culture you mentioned in the late 90's essentially accelerated because of what would appear to western eyes as disappointing, sad and tragic events in the world that couldn't be ignored.




President Perot?
After the brief bout of political chaos in America, which was heavily sensationalized in the American media and press and had even received a lot of note in Europe, the climate began to calm down. Since Carter, the Republican party was able to dominate the American presidency near completely, but there was little they could do with a President that was too popular to challenge in a primary but too loathed to actually win the general election. Perot appealed to the rank and file's sensibilities, and it was believed that the legislature could keep Perot from doing anything 'crazy' like taxing the rich or instituting actual healthcare reform. Perot himself understood and expected this, he was an intelligent, confident man and understood in a general sense the level of political machinations he would face in Washington, but he himself already had grand plans.

During the last few months of President Bush's tenure, increasing reports of anti communist guerillas and paramilitary forces, some operating out of right wing or cartel controlled territories in Colombia in cross border raids. Several individuals of both Cuban and Venezuelan ethnicity were caught trying to rouse anti communist activity in some of the more hesitant Venezuelan army units. General de Brigada Hugo Chavez, a favorite of the Cuban Intelligence force and a key figure in the coup led the crack down. Formerly a Lieutenant Colonel, Chavez was quickly demonstrating to both the Cubans and the Soviets that he was a man who could get results and take orders. The Soviet State Owned Gas Concern was increasingly involved after the Venezuelan government nationalized most of it's Petroleum infrastructure. The guerillas, some of them veteran former Sandinistas, Cuban mercenaries or volunteer American special forces were becoming a headache for the Venezuelan army in the south, but a steady pipeline of arms and Cuban 'volunteers' could now flow into Colombia to train, lead and arm FARC. The consequence was increasing casualties, and a general decline in the US's active operations in the war on drugs in Colombia. Noted schemer and billionaire drug smuggler, Pablo Escobar appeared to have evaded capture and fled to Venezuela. Despite the anti drug position of the Soviet Union and it's affiliates, it was quickly becoming clear that the Cuban government was gaining access to United States Dollars and hard currency at levels previously unseen, creating a potential way to both humiliate the Soviets, Cuban Government and link the US's two favored enemies, Communists and Drug dealers, to mobilize public support. However, the CIA and DEA had still not managed to put all of the pieces together, and did not have evidence of direct Cuban involvement yet. This situation would quickly be sidelined by a much larger crisis, the first to arrive on a silver plate to Perot's oval office.


Heart of Darkness:
When the Apartheid regime sold it's soul to radicals and military dictatorship to hold onto power, a series of inevitable events were launched which made this sad tragedy inevitable. History is full of examples of men selling their souls to the devil to keep what they think is their own entitlement, it is nothing special, it has happened before and will happen again. It will always be within the criminal or the psychopath's nature to act as they are, just as a predator strikes at it's prey in nature. But isn't it the policemen or watchman's responsibility for allowing it to happen? We knew of what was happening in South Africa, and left it alone because we were content to believe that this problem would sort itself out, and that sanity would prevail, what naivety."
- Preamble on the Joint Report on Warcrimes and Genocide in the South African Civil War

On the 12th of February, it was Monday like any other, very pleasant by Johannesburg standards at a mild 25 Degrees Celsius. The city had been quiet since an SADF crackdown two months ago, the only foot traffic was either affluent whites enjoying their day at the coffee shop, vehicles driving by and Black South Africans on their way to work. Despite a nearly 200'000 strong strike that had occurred a few years ago, the Apartheid government had mostly managed to systematically destroy the labour opposition by either importing willing workers from Bantustans or using armed force and food rationing, reducing the diamond miners to what could be considered almost a state of slave labour. The Presidency of Barend du Plessis and his SADF Junta had a tacit agreement with the Soviet Union, and believed that without the active funding and support of either the bush war in Nambia or of the ANC, they could maintain their rule. In some cases, military repression and pure demonstration of power can break the human spirit, but in other more dramatic cases, it fails to do so that Monday would prove to be one of the latter.

At the Sandton mine, north of Johannesburg, private guards began beating a black worker, who demanded a few extra minutes to finish the bitter soup he was given as a reward for his five straight hours of labour. The guards were a mixed lot, some were just there because it was a job, they would just follow their orders so they could put food on the table. But there were others, a malicious sort of person. It was that sort of person who kept beating when it was unnecessary, and ironically it would be that sort of person who prove to be the hammer, striking an anvil, creating a spark which would start a fire.

When the baton made contact with Bonolo's head, the force sent it right into a rock the guard didn't see. The guard, despite his maliciousness, had no intention of murdering him. In fact, despite his sociopathic tendencies, or even in regard to them, he wanted to avoid that. Killing a labourer was a great way to get chewed out, fired or otherwise punished. But the other workers noticed, and it wasn't like this was the first time it happened, but perhaps it was the accidental nature of it that got to them. In some cases workers were killed because they talked back, tried to organize, or even hit a guard, but this time this man, a man who was friendly with everyone, who had four children and a wife, senselessly died for nothing. For these stones to be sold so their oppressors could get even richer.

The violence that ensured was pure barbarity, pickaxes and power tools were not used in their intended fashion. Bullets were fired and ricochets wounded or killed. Blood began to fill the mine, paint the walls and cover the faces. In about an hour what was left of the armed guards, evacuated the mine and left the managers who had not already escaped to their fate. That fate being a traditional method of execution in South Africa, once saved for enemies of the ANC, but instead used on who they saw as their slave masters. This of course was seen by the workers as just revenge, it was easily propagandized by the Apartheid government and SADF to mobilize the white population. It wasn't long until the phone lines were full of this information, being reported back to the police, the military and the government but as that happened, the miners descended onto the town, riots broke out in other townships and nearly all of the mines in the region suffered similar episodes in a matter of hours. Cells of ANC rebels, waiting for an opportunity like this, came out into the open. Lightly defended roadblocks and outposts, some police stations were stormed and soon the insurrectionists had weapons. The ANC made a call to their Soviet and Cuban contacts, but the former was in a difficult position, considering there was no doubt in their or the KGB's mind that the Apartheid government had kept records of their dealings to prevent just this sort of thing. This however didn't stop other african nations from offering whatever form of paltry support they could manage. Thus began the riot in Johanesburg, which was quickly put down, but was so public and flagrant that it acted as a starters pistol, culminating an inevitable conflict since the murder of Nelson Mandela.




First I'd like to apologize for my slow updates, I'm currently doing my masters and I'm getting pretty bogged down in work. It's unfortunate because sometimes I get that creative ding but I'm in no position to do anything with it.

The Decline and Fall of Apartheid
Uniformed officers examined the table, while a flurry of activity took place within the bunker all around them, signallers and other support soldiers were bringing maps, files and communication devices all around. This bunker had been left mothballed, but was designated as a command station in the case of a general rebellion in the country, in a military plan created in the late 1980's by the South African Defence Force these bunkers would operate in conjunction with the Joint Management Centers. It would be the primary head quarters serving in the Northern Johannesburg-Guateng region. The plan had been formalized two hours ago the Afrianker Volksfront, and a junta of the top generals in the South African Army had been given political authority, as the legislature was dissolved and full marital law declared. This came as a reaction to the mutiny of the vast majority of the 7th South African Infantry Battalion, which had taken most of it's white officers and soldiers as prisoners and opened the armories to the quickly organizing ANC - National Resistance, being organized across the entire country. A rebellion of many of the moderate and liberal elements in the legislature was taking place, aligning with the ANC and establishing power in Cape Town, where several small elements of the SADF had defected. The 113 Battalion also mutinied and contact was lost with the region of Phalaborwa. The officers began to discuss possibility that the border posts there were either already under siege or stormed. Any forces left in Nambia had to be evacuated and all black soldiers disarmed, at least for the duration, which a policy could be figured out to determine of which whom would be loyal.

Across South Africa chaos began to unfold, as secretly organized ANC cells, along with any number of fanatic, liberal, maoist, marxist leninist and liberationist forces began hitting the streets. It was a complete nightmare to behold, especially in major cities within the first few days, where lawlessness and barbarity in the townships resulted in widespread violence. The military was immediately mobilized and it's reserves called in, factions started forming within, the moderates and those more affiliated with the British descended white minority, had try to connect with more the more moderate black liberation movements, suggesting that free, peaceful multiparty elections were the only way through. The vast majority of the Junta, Volksfront and Officers of the SADF choose to stay with the radical national front government. The military began to fracture as mostly black units overthrew their white officers, or even in more isolated cases drew in common cause with them. The nucleus of this movement centered around Frederik Willem de Klerk, who was however quickly assassinated, with Marthinus Van Schalkwyk and Thabo Mbeki making common cause, leading the (ANC Moderate-Liberal Party union) Front for South African Liberation, which became more well known for the name of it's military force, the Free Army of South Africa. Thousands of volunteers, black soldiers of the SADF and more moderate members of the ANC swelled it's ranks, quickly becoming a force over ten thousand strong, equipped with heavy weapons and some cases in total control of towns, military bases and major road points. The more radical armed faction that came into being was the ANC's Army of National Resistance, which came into an uneasy ceasefire with the FASA making common cause against the SADF and it's AWB paramilitaries. Among all of these were Zulu nationalists, who were planning on seceding and forming their own state, and proved hostile to all sides.

The SADF and Radical government was purged of those who they believed constituted an weakness, and either imprisoned or executed them. The response to this kind of uprising was predicted, and meticulously planned against. "Joint Management Centers" which had been sent up due to previous unrest in the 1970's, how allowed for the government to establish near total martial law and control from the top to the bottom. Police and auxiliary police were armed as paramilitary forces and given little information as to what was going on. The Government immediately began using the prior incidents in the mines as propaganda that this was a race war for the extermination of Afrikaners and all whites in South Africa. Many of the liberal or educated urban whites disregarded, but enough were paranoid enough to go along with it, especially within the security or government services. The capital, major cities and major road ways were among the first secured after brief fighting and skirmishing. Border patrols had ceased to exist in many areas, allowing for the flowing of African volunteers and weapons into the country. The military's main objectives were to secure a defensive perimeter around Praetoria, maintain a pathway to Johannesburg, while also maintaining control of all of the major military facilities, airports, bunkers, armories and prisons. Some towns had to be evacuated as holding them would have stretched SADF forces too thin. In some cases, prisons were found burnt down with everyone left inside, or just left open. By the beginning of March 1993, countryside was devolving into chaos.

Both the United States President Ross Perot and the Soviet Union under General Secretary Romanov were in a tough position. The CIA wasn't aware of the carte blanche the Soviets had previously given the South African government, but were now becoming increasingly suspicious. The Soviets increased their propaganda, verbally calling for the dismantling of the racist government in South Africa, but beyond a few paltry shipments of small arms did little or nothing to instigate the Junta against them. The Junta understand the fundamental strategic calculus of this and through covert channels made it understood that as long as they did not actively move against them, they would both destroy the evidence of their previous dealings once the crisis was over. Romanov, ever the opportunist, did however make connections with all of the political factions, while officially supporting the Army of National Resistance. The Perot did not want to make himself out to be a lair, but the sheer mass popularity of anti Apartheit politics, allowed him to begin the process of the CIA establishing contacts with the Free Army of South Africa.

E Marginal Way S

E Marginal Way S and its twin across the Duwamish Waterway, W Marginal Way SW, are good examples of purely descriptive Seattle street names. In fact, they are first mentioned in the press as adjective + noun, not name + type:

  • “Marginal ways are urged for both sides of Duwamish waterway.” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 27, 1911, in reference to the Bogue Plan
  • “Coincident with the completion of the Duwamish waterway and the wide marginal streets on each side, a publicly owned railway should be built along these marginal ways…” C.C. Closson, realtor and the Port of Seattle’s first paid employee, in a letter to the editor, Seattle P-I, July 8, 1912
  • “East and west marginal ways, planned by Bogue to parallel the waterway to give railroads, street cars and other transportation facilities access to the Duwamish waterway, will both pass through Oxbow.“ The Seattle Times, March 26, 1914
  • “Marginal ways parallel the new waterway for the whole distance, connecting with the main streets of the city running to the south.” Seattle P-I, August 13, 1914

A longer excerpt, from an article in the April 19, 1914, issue of The Seattle Times, explains the reason for their creation:

Second only in importance to the waterway are the projected traffic streets, east and west marginal ways, laid out on both sides of the waterway about 1,000 feet back to give railways and street car lines the opportunity to parallel the waterway on both sides for its entire length, to give service to the industries locating along the waterway. As an allowance of $175,000 was made for East Marginal Way in the $3,000,000 county bond issue for roads, that street is now being condemned by the city and will be constructed 130 feet wide to the south city limits, where it will join a county road. West Marginal Way is also being promoted by interested property owners. As the existing railways are already but a short distance east of the Duwamish River, spurs can be thrown into East Marginal Way at slight expense. Also the port commission is considering a plan for port district terminal tracks on the Marginal Ways to serve the waterway.

The Duwamish Waterway, whose construction began on October 14, 1913, was a straightening and deepening of the last 6 miles of the formerly meandering river. Construction of the waterway, with Harbor Island at its mouth (the largest artificial island in the world from 1909 to 1938), plus the filling of the Elliott Bay tidelands, are what give Seattle’s harbor its modern shape.

E Marginal Way S begins as an extension of Alaskan Way S — originally Railroad Avenue, which served much the same function for the central waterfront — at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 30, and stretches 4⅖ miles from there to the southern city limits. (From the southern end of the Alaskan Freeway to the northern end of the 1st Avenue South Bridge, it carries Washington State Route 99.) Beyond there it runs 3½ miles more to S 133rd Street in Tukwila.

East End Stories

A community event in the East End Cultural District coinciding with Cinco de Mayo, Piñatafest celebrates the ancient cultural tradition of piñata-making and the long-lived presence throughout the 2nd Ward. The event will showcase traditional and contemporary piñatas in a public setting, host live music performances and offer many free family-friendly activities.

ABOUT: PIÑATAFEST (A two-day community event in East End Houston)

East End Foundation in partnership with the Houston Arts Alliance (Folklife + Civic Engagement Program) and the City of Houston



WAREHOUSE POP-UP PARTY | Free to the public
3118 Harrisburg Blvd (Ste. 101)
Historic R.B. Everett Building
Walking distance from METRORail
Green Line (Coffee Plant/2nd Ward EB)

Eats provided by El Burro and the Bull:
Street Tacos
Smoked Brisket
Smoked Pork
Street Corn
Cucumber Lime Water

SUNDAY, MAY 7 | 10 AM – 2 PM

Navigation Esplanade | 2600 Navigation Blvd, Houston, Texas 77003 | Street Parking Available


Piñatas on the Esplanade
Large-scale sculpture competition inspired by traditional Piñatas. $1,000 PIÑATA PRIZE: (awards at 1 pm)

Community Piñata Making
Garcia’s Party Store invites participants to create mini piñatas to hang in designated trees on the Esplanade. This community art installation will be shown in conjunction with the larger sculpture projects.

Contemporary Piñata Crafts
TXRX LABS invites participants to create contemporary crafts inspired by piñatas.

YES Prep Art students offer their skills and talent to paint fun and fabulous designs on participants faces.

Kickin Kombucha will be providing their tasty energizing tea that is proudly produced and bottled in East End Houston.

East End Art Ride (10:00 AM – 12:30 PM): Bike Houston invites participants to tour the East End Cultural District (meets at Moon Tower Inn).

Rockin’ Caricatures (10:00 AM – 1:00 PM): Folk artist, Bonnie Blue has painted over 8,000 real faces on rocks. She has been asked to paint such celebrities as Bill Murray and Houston Mayor Annise Parker. Participants will be offered their own Rockin’ Caricature to take home!

Piñata-Pop: Garcia’s Party Store invites children 5 and under to break piñatas with candy inside

$1,000 PIÑATA PRIZE(1 PM): Piñatas on the Esplanade sculpture competition Awards Ceremony

EAST END STREET MARKET: Wide array of street vendors lining the Esplanade offering food, crafts and drinks. Market items will be for sale.


The Columbia University campus runs from West 114th-West 120th Streets between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. As Kings College, founded in the colonial era, it once occupied a site near City Hall (a West Broadway building sign still says “College Place”) and later moved to the East River site now occupied by Rockefeller University. It has been here on its magnificent campus with many buildings designed by Charles McKim of the McKim, Mead and White firm since 1897. There was a time when West 116th ran right through the school grounds, but it closed to traffic years ago and is now a grand walkway (College Walk) through the center of the campus. This land was once occupied by the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum (Broadway was called Bloomingdale Road at one time, and these sort of institutions were once located in out-of-the-way parts of town, or even better, islands.) The asylum was in operation from 1821-the mid-1880s. The old Macy Villa (see below) is the only surviving building at Columbia from the asylum era.

Dodge Hall, containing the Kathryn Bache Miller Theatre, home of Columbia’s music and arts schools, Broadway and West 116th.

When I did my Columbia slide show, many of the attendees were unaware that the Sundial, a fixture and meeting place on College Walk for over 9 decades, once had a 16-ton polished green granite globe positioned on top of it. It was a gift in 1914 from the Columbia College class of 1885. The sphere began to develop cracks in 1944 and was removed in 1946. For a time Columbia U. did not know its whereabouts, but it turned up in a field in Ann Arbor, MI in 2001 efforts to reclaim it have so far been unsuccessful.

I will touch on Columbia’s great buildings just briefly — they’re hardly Forgotten, after all…

Butler Library has one of the city’s longest Ionic colonnades with 14 pillars. Itis relatively new for classic-styled architecture having been finished in 1934. It was named for Colmbia president Nicholas Murray Butler, who still had 11 years to live after the building was named for him.

The Low Memorial Library was a charter member of Columbia University, completed 1897 by Charles McKim. It was named for the father of Brooklyn mayor, then Columbia president, then NYC Mayor Seth Low (1850-1916), merchant A. A. Low. It has become a ceremonial space in recent decades. 10 Ionic columns to the Butler’s 14. There was once a rowing track and canvas tank for Columbia’s crew in the basement.

Daniel Chester French’s Alma Mater (1903) greets students, faculty, and mere passersby. Currently bronze-colored, she has been gilded in gold and green with verdigris during the years. Protesters tried exploding her in 1970, but she survived.

The Macy Villa (foreground) now Maison Française, Columbia University’s center of French culture, is the oldest building on campus and is the only leftover from the asylum days. Officilaly it is known as Buell Hall when built in 1885, it took its name from principal donor, William H. Macy (not, of course, the red headed actor). And there are some of the lampposts I was talking about.

The Villa adjoins St. Paul’s Chapel, a gift from the Stokes family of industrialists/philanthropists, and completed in 1907. A member of the Stokes family, Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes, was a partner in the firm that built it Stokes also wrote one of the best NYC histories, the massive The Iconography of Manhattan Island.

West 116th resumes for just one block between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive. You can pick your poison here with a couple of modern blandifications the 1996 Jerome L. Greeene Hall, or the charmless 1961 Columbia Law School it was added to. The Law School is livened up only by the Jacques Lipschitz sculpture Bellerophon Taming Pegasus, from the Greek myth about the flying horse and its jockey.

Who is that guy? West 116th comes to a halt once again at Morningside Drive, overlooking Morningside Park. It would have to descend a steep angle indeed if it were to be run through here, so 19th century engineers and surveyors didn’t even try it. This dramatic setting is marked by Karl Bitter/Henry Bacon’s 1913 Carl Schurz monument, honoring the a mid-19th century German immigrant (1829-1906) who became a Civil War general, US Senator from Missouri (1869-1875), Rutherford Hayes’ Secretary of the Interior (1877-81), editor of the New York Tribune and Harper’s Weekly.

I can’t help mixing him up with Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts.

True to form, my chief interest in the Schurz Monument rests in the two distinctive lampposts on either side, designed, as many early 20th Century posts were, with a horticultural motif. The “cage” luminaires replaced white glass globes several decades ago. According to some accounts, these are 1930s posts that replaced even more ornate earlier designs.

Taking a look back at West 116th before plunging into Morningside Park and Harlem beyond. The modest building on the right is the Columbia U. President’s House, designed by William Kendall of the McKim, Mead and White firm in 1912.

What's the reason for wider streets in East Germany? - History

By Sheena McKenzie and Nadine Schmidt Video by Ed Kiernan

Updated: Sat, 31 Aug 2019 09:27:35 GMT

It's a humid August afternoon and Jörg Kühne gazes across a public square where children squeal and splash in an ankle-deep fountain.

All around him people go about their business: a farmers' market is in full swing, a tram trundles past, cyclists weave between meandering tourists.

"It wasn't like this," Kühne says, squinting against the summer glare. "It was like the black and white photos. It was dark."

Thirty years ago, this sprawling concrete square in the former East German city of Leipzig was the epicenter of freedom demonstrations that swept the country and brought down the Berlin Wall.

Grainy images of 70,000 protesters in Leipzig carrying candles and chanting "Wir sind das Volk" -- "We are the people!" -- were beamed across the world on October 9, 1989. The rally was a turning point in the fall of the Iron Curtain a month later.

Kühne was one of the demonstrators who, in his words, "longed for a free and united country." Then a 21-year-old locksmith working at the state railway company, he said the uprising in his hometown was "the greatest thing I've ever experienced."

Today he is again drawing inspiration from Germany's peaceful revolution -- this time, as a member of the country's far-right Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) party.

Kühne is a candidate in the upcoming Saxony state election on September 1, where the AfD is tipped to come in at second place, behind Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party.

Now the AfD is repackaging the 1989 Leipzig demonstrations for its 2019 political campaign -- resurrecting the same slogans, images and revolutionary rhetoric.

From billboards showing historic photographs of the protest, to posters emblazoned with the famous slogan: "We are the people!" the AfD is urging voters in the east to rise up, much as they did against communism three decades ago.

Back then, protesters wanted to tear down the wall dividing their country. The east was eager to embrace western democracy and its promise of free elections, travel and a functioning economy.

Fast forward to 2019 and the AfD is pledging to barricade the nation against Europe's open borders, playing on fears around migrants and world markets. This nationalist message has struck a chord in Saxony, and other states in former East Germany, where support for the AfD is the strongest in the country.

My grandfather would 'turn in his grave'

Today a man in his 50s and quick to make jokes about his weight, Kühne paints a picture of similiar activists-turned-AfD supporters who have been sidelined for too long.

"We were not asked" about replacing Germany's national currency with the euro, or Merkel's so-called open-door policy on refugees, he said. "But we are the people. And of course my party still uses this wonderful slogan from the peaceful revolution today."

Indeed drive along the highway between Berlin and Leipzig and you'll see dozens of AfD billboards declaring "We are the people!" and referring to the protest date in 1989.

Another billboard says "The East is standing up!" and in smaller print, "Change 2.0."

The posters imply that "if voters opt for the AfD, they can finish the work of those who led the peaceful revolution," said Kristina Spohr, a historian and the author of "Post Wall, Post Square: Rebuilding the World after 1989."

"This is an abuse of history," she added. "What the AfD wants -- a nationalist, inward-looking Germany -- has nothing to do with what the people wanted in 1989."

The AfD's rebrand hasn't gone down well with everyone in Leipzig, a city that has a reputation as a liberal stronghold in conservative Saxony.

Martin Neuhof's grandfather was a photojournalist during the 1989 demonstrations. His picture showing thousands of people flooding what was then Karl-Marx-Platz was used in AfD billboards during local elections in May.

Splashed across the photo were the words "Change for Leipzig," and the AfD logo.

"If my grandfather knew about it, it would make him turn in his grave," said Neuhof of Friedrich Gahlbeck, who passed away 20 years ago.

The AfD is "instrumentalizing the peaceful revolution in Leipzig," said Neuhof, who as a child spent hours developing photos in the darkroom alongside his grandfather, who worked for the East German state news agency.

It inspired Neuhof's own career as a photographer in Leipzig, where he runs the anti-racism photo project "Herzkampf" -- meaning fighting from the heart -- featuring portraits of local activists.

Neuhof's family is now in a legal battle with the AfD over its use of the historic photo. Kühne says proceedings are "ongoing" but he thought it was a "wonderful idea" to use the photo in the political campaign.

It certainly didn't hurt his own campaign -- Kühne was elected one of Leipzig's city councillors. And is now one of 11 AfD members in the left-leaning council.

'They thought everybody would be driving a Mercedes'

Reminders of the revolution are everywhere here. A giant mural painted on the wall of Leipzig's Marriott Hotel depicts the 1989 protest in brilliant rainbow colors.

Gisela Kallenbach is a retired Green politician who also took to the streets three decades ago. She points to the cartoon characters featured on the mural and echoes Kühne's words -- "It wasn't like this. It was dark."

Protesters were engulfed in air "choked with smoke" from nearby lignite factories, remembers Kallenbach who was then a 47-year-old chemical engineer and mother-of-three.

When the Berlin Wall finally did come crashing down, so did a lot of East German aspirations. Some had "illusions that everybody would be driving a Mercedes," Kallenbach said.

The rallying cry of "We are the people!" was replaced with "We are one people!" but the reality didn't quite meet expectations, Spohr, the historian, said.

Very quickly, feelings of freedom gave way to feeling like second-class citizens. "Basically the West German political system [was] applied to all of Germany," she said. "Everything that was tied to an East German identity was basically binned," Spohr said.

By 1991, Spohr said the country was seeing a rise in far-right parties.

Saxony and the neighboring eastern German states of Brandenburg (which also heads to the polls on Sunday) and Thuringia are fertile ground for the AfD. These are working class regions, hit by the closure of their coal industries, and still lagging behind the west in employment and salaries.

While the AfD took 12.6% of the vote nationally during the 2017 general election, it was double this in Saxony, where it had 25.4%. It is now the largest opposition party in Germany's parliament.

Look further right, and you'll find other movements recycling the slogans of 1989. The anti-Islam group Pegida chanted "We are the people!" during demonstrations in neighboring Dresden in 2015, and held rallies against Muslims every Monday night -- a twisted version of the Monday peace prayers in Leipzig all those years ago.

The slogan was resurrected by protesters during violent demonstrations against refugees in the city of Chemnitz, also in Saxony, last year that made headlines around the world.

'People forget what they have gained'

The AfD, like many populist parties surging in Europe, has directed much of its fury at the European Union.

Kallenbach, who was a member of the European Parliament for years, was quick to defend the EU, though she admitted that German leaders made "mistakes" in the reunification process.

"I think people forget what they have gained in the last 30 years . a free, democratic state," said Kallenbach, today in her 70s with a shock of brilliant red hair, chunky earrings dangling in agreement.

Life in East Germany was drenched in fear and intimidation. Kallenbach has no photos of herself at the momentous demonstrations, because she was so terrified of being targeted by the Stasi. The shadow of Tiananmen Square loomed large, and she was painfully aware of the tanks lining Leipzig's streets.

East Germans of all ages were asking for "basic human rights," she recalled -- things like freedom of speech, media and travel, that had been squashed following World War II.

Now Kallenbach is determined to ensure the AfD doesn't turn back the clock on those hard-won freedoms, jumping on her bicycle to hand out anti-far right flyers in the state election.

The shocking pollution in East Germany was one of the reasons Kallenbach hit the streets all those years ago. Today it is the AfD "poisoning the atmosphere in our society," she said.

"Listen to the statements of their leaders. They are . racist, nationalistic. They provide an atmosphere you can almost compare to the 1930s," she said in reference to Nazi Germany. "I don't want to live in a country where this rhetoric is the common language."

Kühne from the AfD dismissed the comparison with a dark time in German history, adding "I completely reject the catchword 'racism.'"

"People can protest against the AfD," he said. But they "should not attack us -- physically or verbally. We are open to a critical dialogue."

'We will see who the people are'

When fellow 1989 demonstrator Christoph Wonneberger nimbly alights from his bicycle, it's something of a shock to learn he's 75.

The former pastor looks up at Leipzig's looming St. Nicholas Church, where he helped organized Monday peace prayers that morphed into the biggest protest movement the East had ever seen.

From the early-1980s, each week people would gather at the grand church to discuss causes close to their hearts. As the threat of nuclear war increased, so did the number of patrons.

By October 1989, more than 2,000 people were packing into the church, with thousands more spilling out into the streets.

The demonstrators were determined not to act aggressively, not to give the police any reason to crack down. Wonneberger believes this non-violent approach -- along with their massive numbers -- was the secret to their success.

He recalled how "We are the people!" actually came about. During one march, there was a confrontation with police where one of the streets was blocked off. "The police shouted through the loudspeaker, 'We are the police!' And the protesters replied: 'We are the people!'"

"Let's wait and see at the next election who 'the people' really are," said Wonneberger.

Watch the video: Η αλήθεια για το οικονομικό θαύμα της Γερμανίας