Gleim Tunnel is an essential link for traffic between Wedding and Pankow. For Mauerpark’s visitors, the tunnel’s roof offers another link, between the northern and southern ends of the park—a pathway that was part of Mauerpark’s designer Professor Gustav Lange’s original plans for the park.
Turning that vision into reality, however, has remained elusive. The Pankow parks department blocked off the unrenovated path in 2005, meaning that cyclists, park visitors, and other pedestrians could not walk from one end of the park to the other without using the busy Gleimstraße below.
At the beginning of 2007, Matthias Stelz, an architect and resident of the Gleim area, brought a proposal to construct a footpath over the tunnel to the local civic association.
The Neighborhood Fund allocated resources, and the neighborhood management voted to use those funds for the path. Friends of Mauerpark wanted to take part in the execution of the project.
Approval for the construction required appealing to a great number of parties.
But there were problems: most troublesome is the still unresolved question of ownership. The tunnel itself is owned by Deutsche Bahn; as a protected historical monument, however, the site could also be claimed by the federal government or Berlin. However, none of these parties wants ownership over the tunnel, which requires substantial renovation.
In August 2007, the Berlin Senate rejected the plan to finance the footpath. One month later, however, the Senate parks department pledged to discuss use of the tunnel roof with Deutsche Bahn.
A contractual agreement in February 2008 between the Senate and DB allowed for at least the possibility of the overhead path. But resources were still not made available.
In June 2008, the establishment of a simple footpath over the roof of tunnel with a safety fence on both sides is accepted as a provisional solution. It was constructed at the end of the year. It not an aesthetically pleasing solution, but it does connect the two ends of the park. The birch grove is now fully integrated into Mauerpark. For the Moritzhof youth farm, the path over the tunnel is a welcome tour route with the horses to the areas used by the Mauergarteners, who were appropriated land on the northern part of the uncompleted part of Mauerpark through the involvement of Friends of Mauerpark.
Social exchange is therefore a happy consequence of the provisional path, which should remain there permanently and preferably cover the entirety Gleim Tunnel roof. We can only hope that that will not take another decade.