Mapping the Berlin Underground System

When the Berlin Wall was constructed in the 1960s, most transport services that ran through East and West Berlin were suspended. However, three train lines - two U-Bahn lines and one S-Bahn line - travelled under the Wall to connect different parts of the city.

Friedrichstraße Station was the only crossing point. It was a labyrinth that kept Easterners and Westerners apart and developed the name Tränenpalast or Palace of Tears, derived from the tearful goodbyes that took place in front of the building.

  • Friedrichstrasse Station Map

  • As Western trains travelled through the 11 abandoned stations under East Berlin, they wouldn’t stop but they slowed down enough to allowing passengers a disconcerting glimpse of the Ghost stations or ‘Geisterbahnhöfe’.

  • Ghost Stations Berlin Underground

  • Some East German maps of the Berlin rail network superimposed the Potsdam area on top of West Berlin, whilst others simply didn’t show it. A similar tactic to its city map – pretend it wasn’t really there. The arrows on the circular line shorten the distance of travelling under the wall.

  • Berlin Underground Map
  • Berlin Underground Map

  • Because of the lack of private car ownership, the S-Bahn in East Berlin accounted for almost 50% of urban transport.

    On the other side, West Berlin tried to soften the division by including some of the lines beyond the wall on their transport maps. The Wall is shown in grey and the lines beyond it are shown more faintly, though passengers were reminded that Eastern stations were only accessible by crossing at Checkpoint Charlie. But the S-Bahn doesn’t appear on the map because of its affiliation with the East, and West Berliners were encouraged to boycott the S-Bahn with slogans like "Taking the S-Bahn Funds The Wall".

  • Berlin Underground Map
  • Berlin Underground Map

  • Though there are still disused sections of some lines, in the years following the fall of the wall, a great deal of effort has been put into restoring transport networks in Berlin.

    Shop the Berlin City Map here.