Kreuzberg, a part of the combined Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg borough located south of Mitte since 2001, is one of the best-known areas of Berlin. Kreuzberg, colloquially also known as X-Berg, is often described as consisting of two distinctive parts: the SO 36, home to many immigrants; and SW 61, roughly coterminous with the old postal codes for the two areas in West Berlin.1 Kreuzberg has emerged from its history as one of the poorest quarters in Berlin in the late 1970s, during which it was an isolated section of West Berlin2 to one of Berlin’s cultural centers in the middle of the now reunified city, known around the world for its alternative scene and counterculture.
Kreuzberg is one of the trendiest districts of Berlin, and many bars, pubs and nightclubs can be found in the area.
The borough is known for its very large percentage of immigrants and descendants of immigrants, many of whom are of Turkish ancestry. As of 2006, 31.6% of Kreuzberg’s inhabitants did not have German citizenship. While Kreuzberg thrives on its diverse culture and is still an attractive area for many, the district is also characterized by high levels of unemployment and some of the lowest average incomes in Berlin.
The counterculture tradition of Kreuzberg led to a plurality of votes for the Green Party, which is unique among all Berlin boroughs. The local MP Hans-Christian Ströbele is the only Green politician directly elected to the federal Bundestag parliament.
Kreuzberg has historically been home to the Berlin’s punk rock movement as well as other alternative subcultures in Germany. The SO36 club remains a fixture on the Berlin music scene. It was originally focused on punk music and in the 1970s was often frequented by Iggy Pop and David Bowie. In those days the club rivalled New York’s CBGB as one of the finest new-wave venues in the world.
There has also been a significant influence stemming from African-American and hip hop culture on Kreuzberg’s youth and the area has become a centre for rap and breakdance within Berlin. Though the majority of Kreuzberg’s residents are of German or Turkish descent, some identify more with American or African-American culture. Hip hop was largely introduced to the youth of Kreuzberg by the children of American servicemen who were stationed nearby until the reunification of Germany.
Every year there is a big festival in Kreuzberg called the Carnival of Cultures where different cultures and heritages are celebrated in colourful street parades which include music, street entertainment, food, and art and craft stalls.
Kreuzberg has long been the epicenter of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer life and Arts in Berlin. Kreuzberg is home to the Schwules Museum which was established in the late 1980s. The museum is dedicated to preserving, exhibiting, and discovering LGBTQ history, art and culture. The museum is composed of three main divisions: archives, library, and exhibitions.