Ahlfeldt, Gabriel M. and Wendland, Nicolai
Die Zentralität war schon da!: Die Bedeutung des öffentlichen Schienennahverkehrs für die Entstehung der Berliner City West.
This paper employs a multilevel market potential indicator to represent urban centrality generated by the urban railway network in Berlin from 1875–1935. Data on population are collected for the whole study period on the level of city districts (Ortsteile) and disaggregated to the level of 15 937 statistical blocks to enable detailed mapping and spatial aggregation on a micro-level. Disaggregation is conducted referring to built-up areas available in the form of historic maps which were digitized and georeferenced. The urban railway system, including network and stations, was digitally reproduced for the whole study period and merged with micro-level population data within a GIS environment to generate the centrality indicator. We find that preceding the emergence of West Berlin’s central business district during the 1920s, the area was excellently accessible by means of rail-based public transport. These findings confirm theoretical expectations that processes of urban decentralization lead to the emergence of sub-centers at those locations that are characterized by good accessibility and large market potential. For cities suffering from excessive congestion within their central business districts, our results suggest that city planners may successfully support the transformation of monocentric into polycentric cities by providing alternative sites with large market access based on an excellent transport infrastructure.
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