Ben Friedman in the City

Wednesday At Tempelhof

Here I am at Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, Germany, one week after turning in my final Environmental Campaigns paper in New Haven. I biked here from my brother’s flat in the Kreuzberg area of a city I am quickly becoming extremely fond of. I cycled onto the tarmac from the road surrounding the airport, past the main terminal, and onto the runway. Tempelhof is no longer an operating airport, but rather a public park.

Airports are giant. SO big. And Tempelhof is grass and wildflowers except for the runways and connecting tarmac, which I now realize must stand for “The Area Really Massive And Concrete.” It’s hard to describe the scale of Tempelhof. There are no trees in the center of the park (duh), so the field of view is giant. With nothing to obstruct my view, I feel like I’m on top of East Rock Park, but looking out over a giant field instead of New Haven. Biking across the runway into the wind takes two Van Morrison songs on my iPod. Runways may feel short when you’re on a plane taking off, but let me tell you that it is a very long and very wide strip of asphalt.

It is a postcard-weather day in Berlin. No clouds, 26 degrees C, slight breeze. Jake (my brother) said its been a long winter. Sunrises at 8, sunsets at 3:30, and when the sun was above the horizon a thick stubborn blanket of grey clouds covered the whole city. Well today, the kiteboarders are out and I am getting sunburned. There are people windsurfing on skateboards on an airport runway.

I think if this were a true essay, I’d email our urban ecology people about urban parks and reclamation, talk about books like “The World Without Us” and try to get the species names of the weeds growing in the cracks of the runway, but this is just a quick note and i’m through working for at least a little while longer until I start at NRDC in New York City in early June. So I think I’ll stop writing, lie in the grass, eat my magnificent freshly baked baguette with its slight tang and fluffy crumb structure and try to get past the first 100 pages of East of Eden Again.



  1. Pingback: Sage Magazine – School of Forestry & Environmental Studies Summer Blog ’13

  2. Benji, loving the stubborn blankets, fluffy crumb structures, and really all the images you’ve painted. Miss you!

  3. Mervis Bimph says:

    Here’s to baked baguettes and runway crack weed! Keep on livin’ you adventurous nipper!

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