Historical Urinals of Berlin
The Internet doesn't smell... yet!
Nearly no other city had more of those ludicrous, flashy strange small
houses near city train stations or places like Berlin in the past.
The herein meant small houses are somewhat high, their classical form is the
octagon with an added paravan, and they are normally green and really rusty:
urinals. Besides of the other known memorials of Berlin, the urinals are the
more spread and most typical sights of the city. Within Berlin cartoons by Zille
or Seyfried they were recorded and can be found, and even some historical
postcards are showing them. One of the maybe in the early history most often
photographed by travellers and city photographer is the removed one at the
former Stettiner Bahnhof:
Stettiner Bahnhof, Colored Postcard
For one or another reason the toilet houses are dying out, although they are
under architectural protection. One reason might be the digging and
construction works in and on Berlin. A clean city is obviously
more compatible with marble faced automatic self cleaning city toilets with
integrated advertising screen than with rusty, historic shaped and sometimes
still smelling steel urinals.
At least the automatic city toilets are a contribution for emancipation -
the octagonal pissoirs were for men only.
The historical toilet
installations of Berlin were privatized in the mid 90ies, but for many of
them this meant only the locking of the location. A restauration of one of
them costs about 100,000 to 125,000 € ($75,000 to $100,000). While these
costs should have been paid with the granted installation of giant advertisement
screens, also the nearly doubled usage fee for the automatic toilets from
50 Pfennig to 50 Eurocent was reasoned with the reconstruction of the historical
The still visible green toilets are originally from the 19th century only.
They were installed in the time when the population of Berlin was growing
exponential and the hygenic problems did likewise. Although already discussed
in 1834, the first urinal was installed in 1863. It is said that after
emperess Viktoria had seen someone peeing on the street it was the start
of the installation of public toilets. Until 1876 more than fifty
were built at streets and places of the city. One of them was probably
placed on the Alexanderplatz before the turn of the century:
Alexanderplatz at around 1900, color modified photo
These small houses have some variants in form and function, but the octagonal
base form is nearly always the same. A special Berlin phrase for these urinals
is "Cafe Achteck" (cafe octagon) because of the base form. Today there are
about thirty still preserved, but some of them in a deconstructed state.
Following some photos of selected historical toilet buildings
Picture Collection to Berlin Toilet Houses (1)
Mariendorf, U-Bhf. Mariendorf (39kB JPEG) -
In the backyard of the underground station Alt-Mariendorf aside of the
entry of a Biergarten is one of a few renovated classical toilets of Berlin.
It is not only new painted and derosted, it is also one of the few walkable
and usable Cafe Achtecks at its time. The photo is from autumn 1998.
Tegel, S-Bhf. Waidmannslust
(53kB JPEG) - At the inner city train station Waidmannslust at the
street Waidmannsluster Damm in Winter 1993/4 was a Cafe Achteck with a lowered
center roof. At the time of the photo the state of the urinal was relatively
good. It was at least walkable. (At that time I didn't knew that once I'll
make a webpage with urinals, so I didn't visited it.)
Charlottenburg, Goslarer Brücke (Goslar
Bridge) (71kB JPEG) - The Cafe Achteck at the Goslar bridge is placed at the
border between Berlin-Charlottenburg and Alt-Moabit. It stands near the
bank of the Charlottenburg connection channel between Westhaven channel and
Spree. The Goslar bridge leads the Kaiserin-Augusta-Allee over the channel.
In the early year 1996 the small house was still free to walk in. The photo
was mainly the model for the rendered urinal, mainly with the simplified
center roof and the raw metal colored windows.
Charlottenburg, Goslar Bridge, detail
(75kB JPEG) - "The Imprisoned Condome Machine" - At the
end of 1997 the Cafe Achteck at Goslar bridge was closed. While the
embankment of the channel was renovated for the nearby high class bureau
buildings and appartment blocks, for the pissoir only some fences at
the entries were arranged. Even in fall 2000 the situation for the
small house at the Golarer Ufer (212 kB JPEG)
was the same.
Moabit, Wiebestraße (164kB JPEG) -
You'll see this house when driving by bus 126 through Moabit. Its placed
at the corner Wiebestr./Huttenstr. near BMW, and in 1998 it was walkable,
but not in a pleasant estate. In the background of the picture industrial
halls of Siemens (formerly of AEG) are visible. In general this is one
of the most industrial areas of Moabit. Only one busstation away
there was the original location of the Pixelpark internet services firm. -
From the picture the most annoying
graffiti at the small house were electronically removed at the image.
Besides of the slot machine on the paravan (nearly identical to the
slot machine at Goslar bridge) holder for outer gas lights and the
outgoing gas pipe for the inner light (not present anymore) are visible
as details on the photo.
Moabit, Wiebestr., Detail (99kB JPEG) -
The roof of the cafe octagon in the Wiebestr. has the classical roof top
with lamella windows, partly adapted from Chinese architecture. Within
this roof top once a ventilator might had been. Also visible is the
holder for the missing gas light.
Wedding/Gesundbrunnen, at Humboldthain with AEG
buildings (142kB JPEG) - Around the Humboldthain at least two toilet
houses were placed, but only the one at the south corner
Hussiten-/Gustav-Meier-Str. is left. At the image from late fall 1998 with
snow the former AEG buildings are visible, which now host the Technique and
Innovation center Berlin (TIB), which was formerly the Berlin Innovation and
Founder center (BIG). The snow covered area stripe in front of the image was
a industrial railway leading to the factory buildings.
Wedding/Gesundbrunnen, at the Humboldthain
(100kB JPEG) - The remaining Cafe Achteck at Humboldthain is
(1998) surrounded by a construction fence, one roof segement is completely
crushed and also in other aspects this house in a bad condition. On the other
hand it is one of the few with a roof gutter, maybe installed later.
Wedding/Gesundbrunnen, Liesen/Gartenstr. before the
S-Train-Bridge (143kB JPEG) - Only about twohundred meter away from the
urinal at Humboldthain a very similar Cafe Achteck is install at the the
roundabout traffic with Gartenstr., Liesenstr., Gerichtstr., and Scheringstr.
leading to the place and the Ackerstr. separated from the place. Over the place
the bridge of the city train railway is leading from Nordbahnhof to
Humboldthain. The photo is also from late fall 1998.
under the city train bridge (76kB JPEG) - Also the toilet house at the
Liesen/Gartenstr. was shutt off. The roof of the house (also with gutter) is
in a better condition than the one at Humboldthain, but here a 6-gangster,
widely present within Berlin had done his ugly things with the house.
Nowadays (2003/4) its removed. - The street at the left side of the picture
(Liesenstr.) leading to the point of view was formerly border street to the
Soviet sector of Berlin. At the left side of the street at that time the wall
was present. A small and crumbling rest of it had remained near the city train
Wedding, Malplaquet / Utrechter Str. (58kB JPEG)
- Another cafe octagon with a fence around itself was standing on the place
where the Malplaquetstr. is crossing the Utrechter Str. within the Berlin
district Wedding. The small house was heavily marred with tags and was
deconstructed in 1999. One of the motivations for this photo collection once
was more or less the press announcement of the deconstruction of this Cafe
Kreuzberg, U-Bhf. Schlesisches Tor (57 kB JPEG) -
The toilet house near the underground train station Schlesisches Tor is
special in many ways. It is classical green and it is build with the same
elements as an octagonal Cafe Achteck, but its rectangular and one side is
for men and the other side for women. The night shot with the overhead
railway station in the background is from late fall 1998.
Picture Collection to Berlin Toilet Houses (2)
Neukölln, Karl-Marx-Str. / Kirchhofstr. (146 kB JPEG)
- At the Rixdorf church one of the renovated Cafe Achteck of Berlin
is to find. It is only a few meter from the city train station Neukölln
away. At the time of the photography there was really no graffiti on the outside
of the house. The only larger manipulation on this image is the removement of
an advertisement at the advertising pillar (Litfaßsäule) beside
Neukölln, Sonnenallee / Elbestr.
(118 kB JPEG) - At the Sonnenallee on the median strip of the Elbestr.
a toilet house made of stone is placed. It is usable for both gender. On
the other hand it still has the octagonal shape and if anyways it is only
a bit larger than a normal Cafe Achteck. At the backside of the house there
still an eigthth of a classical urinal. Some sprayings on the masonry were
electronically removed on the image. As the other snow photos above this
picture is from late fall 1998.
Wedding, Pekinger Pl. (163 kB JPEG) -
The Beijing place in the Berlin district Wedding is spanned by the Nordufer
street and the Kiautschoustr. The Nordufer is north of the
Berlin-Spandauer-Schiffahrtskanal, which is already part of the district
Moabit/Tiergarten. The square exists since the first half of the 19th
century and is divided into a child's playground and a small garden.
The urinal at the corner of the square was built in 1880.
Wedding, Pekinger Pl. inside (93 kB JPEG) -
Also the cafe octagon at the Beijing place was circled by a fence.
While the window plates vis-a-vis of the entry are complete, the windows
at the entry and next to it were bend and partly stolen. The lamina of
the central roof were completely removed. The outer walls of the toilet house
are very rusty, and the cafe octagon at Beijing place has no slot machine.
The pictures are from the winter of 1998/9.
Kreuzberg, Chamissopl. by Night (58kB JPEG) -
This Cafe Achteck at the Chamisso place in Kreuzberg was one of the first
which became renovated in 1996. For this the windows were modified and
restaurated, an electric illumination were installed, the walls were painted
Kreuzberg, Chamissopl. inside (113kB JPEG) -
...but most of all the normally white painted inner areas were replaced with
black marble and... in fact... a permanent water flush! The images are from
the winter of 1998/9 (December 1998).
Prenzlauer Berg, Schwedter Str./Schönhauser Allee (65kB JPEG) -
The photography of the little green house at the end of the Schwedter Str.
going into the Schönhauser Allee was made in winter 1996/7 and this was
before the time of this web page. At the street corner also the underground station
Senefelder Str. of the line 2 is located. This urinal is one of the few
(if not the only one at that time) within the former Eastberlin.
Alt-Moabit, Siemensstr. at the Westhafen (104kB JPEG) -
The cafe octagon at the Westhafen in the Siemensstr. was one of the imprisoned
Berlin architectural monuments at the beginning of 1999. It stands on the
Unionplatz near the end of the Oldenburger Str. The roof of this small house
was undamaged, but one window element was missing completely at the date
of the photo. One special thing of the object was that there were two
installed slot machines on the inside of the paravan. In the background on
the photo you can see the main building of the Westhafen.
Kreuzberg, at the Kreuzberg (179kB JPEG) - The
Kreuzberg is a green park within the center of the city, where on the top of
the hill in 66 meter height stands a monument designed by Schinkel. From the
hill top a pump driven waterfall is going down (if the district has got
enough money through donations for running this waterfall). At the foot of the
Kreuzberg hidden within the green there is a classical Cafe Achteck, which was
closed by a fence in late spring 2000 but otherwise in a good condition.
Prenzlauer Berg, Grüntaler Straße
(176kB JPEG) - One of the historical rectangle based toilets with two
section is placed at the Grüntaler Straße near Osloer Straße.
On the image (photo: DD) from late spring 2000 it is still surrounded by a
fence and in reconstruction, but nowadays it should be in duty.
Kreuzberg, at Schlesisches Tor (159kB JPEG) -
The already presented rectangle based toilet house near the upper ground
underground station Schlesisches Tor was in the same condition in the summer
2000 (here seen from the other side of the street and at daylight)
as about 1 1/2 year ago. (I have never tested whether this location can
be entered although I'm worked in the vicinity to it for some time.)
Tegel, Alt-Tegel (44kB JPEG) - At the end
of 2000, beginning of 2001 next to the bus stop at the northern terminal
undergound station Alt-Tegel a restaurated Cafe Achteck was placed. According
to a common map of Berlin of 1997 - in which also some other classical WC's
are marked - at this place was no toilet to find. But maybe in a far more
distant past around this place there was an urinal or similar to find, because
already at the time of the turn of the century this place was probably a bus
stop of horse busses traveling to the lakes and locations further North of
Picture Collection to Berlin Toilet Houses (3)
Tegel, Alt-Tegel, viewing to
U-Bhf. Alt-Tegel (132kB JPEG) - Anyone who knows this page for a long
time knows, that the first picture of the Cafe Achteck in Tegel replaced
another picture (44kB JPEG) made in
the winter 2000/2001, where the colors were distorted by film and photo print.
All pictures from the new Tegel photos on are made digital and made from
the year 2003 on. - Nevertheless it seems that the newer renovated
urinals like the one at the underground station Alt-Tegel are really somewhat
darker as the previously installations.
Brücke/Goslarer Ufer 2003 (164kB JPEG) - One historical urinal where
I was passing regulary was the one at the Goslarer Brücke. So I also was taking
pictures of it now or then. After seven years it still was within the same
sad state, even more there seem to be some more damages and the condome machine
was missing. At the start of 2004 it was removed.
Kreuzberg, Yorckstr. (180kB JPEG) - At the
end of 2002 I found the Cafe Achteck at the Yorckstr., which is somewhat
in the same state like the one at the Goslarer Ufer. This house is also
surrounded by a fence and damaged in many ways. There was still a condome
machine at the paravan visible on this photo, but the frontside of the
paravan was covered with a very large graffiti. The urinal got removed at
the beginning of September 2003 without any planned replacement.
Prenzlauer Berg, Schwedter Straße
- Schönhauser Allee 2003 (124kB JPEG) - This renovated urinal which
was probably newly installed in the year 1996/7 is still in a good shape after
seven years. The illumination was working although it was also used as a power
source for some nearby construction works at the time of the picture.
Tegel, Hermsdorf, Fellbacher Pl.
(156kB JPEG) - between 2002 and 2003 there was the introduction of
a new modification of the restaurated urinals: Even the octogonal
were modified for the usage of both, men and women. While this
is not revolutionary as seen by the brick-made toilet house at the
Sonnenallee, for the newly renovated urinals this is more a
historizing than a historical original modification. The urinal at
the place Fellbacher Pl. in Hermsdorf is possibly the first one of
this new kind. It has two paravans with lanterns and entry-plates
(HERREN=men/DAMEN=women), and the entries have also a lockable glass
door, which is hiding extremely modern sanitary equipment (of which
some Berlin school could dream of).
Tegel, Hermsdorf, Fellbacher Platz
looking towards S-Bhf. Hermsdorf (180kB JPEG) - If there was a
historical urinal on the Fellbacher Pl. in Hermsdorf, ever, this is
another question. At least the location next to the local city train
station Hermsdorf is somewhat typical. One train station away the
Cafe Achteck in Waidmannslust was removed without any substitute.
(172kB JPEG) - Another new cafe octagon on the Gendarmenmarkt is placed
at the side of the French Dome and its identical build like the one on the
Fellbacher Pl. The inauguration on the Gendarmenmarkt was celebrated in the
late Spring 2003 with a widely press echo. So it was underlined that these
historical like urinals still shall be used for free. The problem is that
exactly this one on the Gendarmenmarkt entered competition with another
automate toilet with costs on the other side of the place.
Mitte, Gendarmenmarkt (136kB JPEG) -
As for the Fellbacher Pl. also for the Gendarmenmarkt its questionable that
there was ever a Cafe Achteck / cafe octagon on this place, even more
considering that the Gendarmenmarkt was always a cultural important area.
At least within the
time of the former GDR there was probably no urinal here. So this new
object might be (after the objects at the Grünthaler and the
Schönefelder Straße) another step of a re-urinalization of the
Alt-Moabit, Siemensstraße at the Unionplatz next to the Westhafen
(212kB JPEG) - at a time after 2001 the toilet house at the
Siemensstraße next to the Westhafen was renovated and newly installed, but
even until mid of 2003 (146kB JPEG) a fence
was around the area of the Unionplatz, which also got rearranged. At the end
of 2003, start of 2004 the fence was removed.
Alt-Moabit, Stephanplatz (139kB JPEG) -
The pissoir at the Stephanplatz is of the same kind as the renovated toilet
houses at the Siemensstraße, at the Chamissoplatz and at some other
places (that is classical only for men, with dark stone and permanent flushing
inside). The photo of the beginning of 2004 shows the paravan without lamps
in the front, where a plate is added which says: 'Die Restaurierung und
Modernisierung des "Café Achtecks" wurde von der Wall AG
durchgeführt und der Stadt gestiftet. Berlin im Dezember 2000'.
Who likes to visit a Cafe Achteck (cafe octagon) without any odor and with
no rust might go to the top of the page and click the
introducing image for a tour to a virtual
urinal. ;-) The images for the views were rendered in 1999 with PoV-Ray 3.0
under Linux 2.0.
"Spaziergang durch die Geschiche Berlins"
Berlin Information 1985
"Berlins unbekannte Denkmäler"
L&H Verlag 1998
-- jd --