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Old October 9th, 2013, 08:00 AM   #21
Wapper
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If you don't mind I'll post a map here.


The Ruhr coal is part of a long, almost uninterrupted coals layer that stretches from Germany over a small part of the Netherlands, Belgium (eg. Charleroi), northern France (not far from Lille) and even under the channel to England and Wales. This is one of the reasons why this part of Europe started to industrialize (very) early. The numbers of the map are supposed to indicate mines that are still in use, but it is possible that the situation has already changed since the map was made.
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Old October 9th, 2013, 01:33 PM   #22
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Thanks for sharing. This is very interesting.

Going to the east maybe this goes to Poland as well. There is definitely coal mining there too.
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Old October 9th, 2013, 09:06 PM   #23
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This is interesting. I did indeed see LOTS of overground piping in Berlin and there is lots of construction everywhere.

What is curious though is that I never see piping put above ground in New York City even though there is clearly lots of pipes and lots of construction.
Berlin is situated in region which originally was dominated by swamps, many small rivers and seasonal flooded areas. The name Berlin presumably derives from the old slawic word Berl whichs means swamp. So ground water was and is a real problem for every larger construction side there.
If I remember right large parts of Manhattan consist of a solid stony underground which is a adaquate precondition to build highrises.
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Old October 10th, 2013, 04:19 AM   #24
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Next it was time to go into the old coal washing plant to visit the Ruhr Museum

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You ride up a long escalator as if you were a lump of coal yourself :-)

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Once there you are in the actual old industrial buildings so you get to see things like the old control systems.

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The museum itself is quite large - about four very big floors - and has lots of historical exhibits on the history of coal mining, the steel industry and industry in general, canals and local geology, canals, labor, and political movements. It is a truly great museum - unfortunately as a person who doesn't speak German most of it was lost on me.

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The above signs, for example, I can't understand. Nevertheless I can see by the hammers on the posters, in addition to the Nazi Swastika, they were trying hard to appeal to working class people and disaffected socialists.

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Interestingly this has the Zollverien on it.

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Sadly, the Ruhr area was very heavily bombed in the Second World War and some of that was shown in the museum. As we'll see this is also apparent when you walk around cities like Dortmund and Essen and see virtually no old buildings.

Next it was time for a tour of the coal washing plant.

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Cars for moving around coal in the washing plant. Note the funny rail system. by 600West218, on Flickr

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This is a highly interesting little rail system inside the plant. The way it works is the coal was hauled to the top by conveyors. Then it was carried along by these carts which would then move through the rest of the plant purely by force of gravity. They would deposit the coal where it was to go and keep rolling down hill until they reached the bottom and were hauled back to the top to start over. It was an engineless train system!

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Note how different the rails are from normal train rails.

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Peddle power.

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We were then taken to the roof of the building which had a pretty good view.

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The city of Essen by 600West218, on Flickr

The center of Essen.

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Power stations in the distance.

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Finally we saw a bit more of the coal washing plant itself and then the tour was done. Next it would be off to the coking plant.
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Old October 10th, 2013, 05:12 AM   #25
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To get to the coking plant it was a fairly long walk around some other parts of the coal mine.

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Note the rail tracks where the coal from the mine and washing plant would have been transported to the coking plant.

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Parts of the complex that were not part of the museum did show signs of abandonment.

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Arriving at the coking plant the first thing you come across is a funny looking locomotive which in turn is pushing a strange, but huge, looking rail car.

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I'm assuming this was used to maybe remove coke from the ovens but I'm not really sure.

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This is a huge railroad locamotive an car by the coking plant. by 600West218, on Flickr

Fortunately there was an American guy around who was willing to pose in front of it to show the scale.

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The coking plant itself which had a very nice bike and jogging path around it.

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Conveyors meeting inside an elevated hub. It would be interesting to go inside and see how they exchange material from one conveyor to another.

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Note how nice and modern looking the building looks. It looks like it could have been built yesterday yet it likely predates WWII.

It is an interesting fact that this huge industrial complex escaped the Second World War largely untouched. It is something of a mystery why something so important to Germany's war effort wasn't bombed while entire cities around it were destroyed. The explanation I heard was that it was partly owned by the British so they left it alone. I find that unconvincing, but I don't know for sure why it wasn't attacked.

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Note the trees growing on the roof.

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I saw this wooden structure in other steel mills around the Ruhr. I have a pretty good grasp of how steel mills work but I really don't know what this is nor what it does.
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Old October 10th, 2013, 05:29 AM   #26
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Walking around to the other side of the coking plant we get to the real deal:

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Note the massive structure over the water. It is actually on rails and would move along the side of the ovens to put in coal and remove coke. I'm not sure why they have the pool of water - maybe to extinguish embers that fall to the ground when they remove the coke.

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Again, the green structure, which is the equivalent of a four story apartment building, moves.

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Again, the American gentleman was kind enough to show the scale.

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This is what moves. You can see this is pretty big. by 600West218, on Flickr

Noting the stairs on the second level gives some sense of the scale.

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Looks like it takes lots of piping to run a coke oven.

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Not sure what this part of the complex does. However, I remember going to Buffalo, New York when I was young and being able to smell the steel mills even from a long ways away. This part of the complex had the EXACT same smell - a burned oil type of smell.

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Buffalo must have had coaking ovens at one time because this place smells exactly like I remember Buffalo smelling years ago. by 600West218, on Flickr

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Got pipes?

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Again, the stairs give some sense of scale.

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I think I sort of know what this says...

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It may look like the worlds largest chain saw but it is actually for piling up bulk products, in this case coal.
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Old October 10th, 2013, 03:27 PM   #27
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🔥 Tradition doesn't mean to look after the ash, but to keep the flame alive! 🔥
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Old October 11th, 2013, 01:29 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 600West218
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Caption: To stand up against woe in order to protect the people

"Common sacrifices unite a people
Against want [the enemy] they go to war
To gain the real peace
Through getting the the enemy's victim as a friend [to win over to the good side] "
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Old October 11th, 2013, 02:23 PM   #29
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Thanks for the translation. It makes sense that that would appeal to people given all the suffering during the Wienmar Republic and depression.

I wonder what the "N" in the middle stood for - maybe "Nationalist"?
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Old October 11th, 2013, 09:12 PM   #30
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The hammer in the middle is actually a "T" and TN was the abbreviation for Technische Nothilfe (= Technical Emergency Help) which was a sort of emergency management organisation.

Nice photos again!
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Old October 12th, 2013, 05:41 AM   #31
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Having run out of time I headed back to the coal mine area to get out to the street and a tram back to central Essen.

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On the way out there were some signs that had really good overall information on industrial sights in the Ruhr.

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Back out on the street one of the interesting things to note is that the coal mine and coking plant are in completely residential areas.

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Rather drab, but comfortable garden apartments. I assume these replaced older housing that was maybe destroyed by the war.

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An electronic sign at the tramway telling us how much longer until the next tram comes. The New York City subway system is just now getting these types of signs (and not nearly as good). It says something that the tram system in Essen has better technology than the New York City subway. Going forward I will show other examples of how good the German public transportation was.

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The tram itself. It was not a bad ride to the center.

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Again, very organized.

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I had time to wander around a bit of the center of Essen. It was a Sunday so naturally it was a bit empty. Still, I found it quite sterile, sort of like these nice but uninspiring office blocks.

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This looks like a pre-war building but I don't know if it is authentic. Just imagine Essen full of buildings like this though...

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Again, nice but sterile.

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I believe this is an old Jewish temple.

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The part crossing the road is actually a small shopping center.

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Kennedy Square.

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There was some sort of American - House in Essen. Not sure what it was.

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Kennedy Plaza as I saw it.

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There still is a good amount of pride in their industrial heritage. Note chocolate and candy stores make momentos that reflect that.

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As night fell I headed back to Dortmund for the night. The next day would be a busy one in Duisburg
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Old October 12th, 2013, 06:45 AM   #32
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Very interesting photo journey.

Before migrating to Australia my grandfather worked in one of those mines in Charleroi, Belgium. He doesn't have fond memories of that time though. Life, especially for migrants working in mines was fraught with danger and misery back then in the 1950s. He remembers many Italians, especially Calabrese southerners being employed to work there because they were generally shorter and could fit more comfortably down the shafts.

If you like this sort of industrial heritage then you'd love Australia which has this on arguably the biggest stage in the world with colossal old and new mining and industrial related sites throughout the country. You could start with historic Broken Hill in New South Wales, the town that gave rise to Australia's first workers' rights and socialist movements. Broken Hill also gives the name to BHP (Broken Hill Propriety) Billiton, the world's biggest mining company. Mount Isa in Queensland amongst other places, would be worth exploring too.
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Old October 12th, 2013, 01:23 PM   #33
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Quote:
I believe this is an old Jewish temple.
Yes, it is the old jewish synagogue (Alte Synagoge). It was burned at the pogrom 1938 but not demolished because it consists of reinforced concrete. Blowing up was also no solutions as it would have damaged surrounding buildings. According to wikipedia it is the largest freestanding synagogue north of the Alpes.
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Old October 12th, 2013, 03:16 PM   #34
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The Ruhr area is just basically bland post-war suburban houses mostly. There are some nice historic areas though, even in Essen. Although I haven't been to Essen, I think the centre of Dortmund is much nicer. The old mines are quite interesting though. Looking forward to your other photos.
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Old October 12th, 2013, 05:42 PM   #35
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The next day it was up early again as I needed to head to Duisburg. Duisburg is a good sized city on the far western end of the Ruhr area where the Ruhr river and the Rhine river plus some canals all meet. It claims to be the largest inland port in the world and I love inland ports so I was looking forward to visiting it. Plus it hard a large park of an old steel mill and had the only still active steel mills in the Ruhr area. In other words, it was the only part of the Ruhrgebiet that was still like the old industrial Ruhrgebiet.

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The center of Dortmund during the morning rush hour. Note the red bricks on the side walk - that is for bikes only. I really didn't like that system at all. Bikes road on this designated part of the side walk which as a pedestrian you have to cross at some points and which it is really easy to wander into. The bikes would go really fast and it would be easy for there to be a bad accident. I wish they would make them ride in bike lanes in the road like they do in Belgium.

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There were always lots of these trailers at all construction sites. Do people live in them?

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Even though the Ruhr area is the biggest urban agglomeration in Germany you still do see some open fields and farms between cities. I think those are sheep in the distance.

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There were lots of corn fields. Note how small the corn is. This is mid-September - corn in the United States is long since harvested. The growing season in Germany is obviously way behind even the northern United States. I was told it was unusual for it to be this late though.

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Note the berm. I can only guess it is to canalize irrigation water (would they need irrigation here??) or for flood control.

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Finally, I make it to Duisberg and manage to find the U-Bahn which I need to take to the old steel mill. It was not easy finding my way around there - there was no tourist office or information in the train station. It turns out there IS a tourist office but it is hidden away in an upscale shopping center where no actual tourist arriving by train will find it. Germany is famous for good design and organization and in the main everything is well designed and organized but there are still some epic design fails such as this an others I will show during the trip.

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Again, arrival times of trams are noted down to the minute - and they are accurate. This New Yorker can only drool.

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I think these signs indicate where the trams where actually stop. This is helpful as the trams are generally on two or four cars long yet the station platform is quite long.

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Taking the tram which was all underground I arrived after 3 or 4 stops in the northern part of Duisberg where the park was. The tram had passed under the Ruhr river and I believe all the pictures are about bridges over the Ruhr and/or Rhine.

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I didn't have good directions on how to get from the tram to the park so I wound up walking and actually getting a bit lost. But that just gave me more of a tour of the residential areas.

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Garden apartments that actually would not look out of place in the older suburbs of northern U.S. cities. I've never known if most Germans live in apartments or individual houses. I saw way more apartments than houses but then again I was almost always in big cities.

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A bit drab but they probably are reasonably comfortable.

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When I was on this street I was walking in the completely wrong direction without realizing it. Oh well...

After asking some older people for directions (with answers in German that I barely understood) I managed to finally get to what I had come for...

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Old October 12th, 2013, 09:07 PM   #36
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Very nice. I love the cities you visited and I love your pictures and commentary.

Your analysis of the bicycle lane is not entirely correct though. Belgium has all kinds of bicycle lanes, among which the type I saw in your picture. Bicycle roads on the sidewalk are actually way better than those on the road, because the latter are really dangerous for people driving the bikes. But I can imagine that you don't pay much attention to bikers as a pedestrian if you are not used to them driving next to you.
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Old October 12th, 2013, 09:11 PM   #37
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Cyclists in Germany are like Kamikazes on two wheels. I really hate them. Not tough enough for the street but terrorising pedestrians.
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Old October 12th, 2013, 09:16 PM   #38
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Well, it's pretty bad in my country too, but the Netherlands (and particularly Amsterdam) are the worst of all
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Old October 12th, 2013, 09:27 PM   #39
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You always think that the user of the other mode of transport is misbehaving It happens automatically. As a pedestrian it's the cyclists or drivers, as a cyclist it's the pedestrians who don't look left or right and walk where they please. As a driver it's the non-drivers. I've had bad experiences with all of them

The Netherlands have certainly the most reckless cyclists but at least you learn to adapt very quickly after almost (or not) being run over and rebuked
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Old October 13th, 2013, 01:16 AM   #40
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Very nice. I love the cities you visited and I love your pictures and commentary.

Your analysis of the bicycle lane is not entirely correct though. Belgium has all kinds of bicycle lanes, among which the type I saw in your picture. Bicycle roads on the sidewalk are actually way better than those on the road, because the latter are really dangerous for people driving the bikes. But I can imagine that you don't pay much attention to bikers as a pedestrian if you are not used to them driving next to you.
The main place I saw bicycles in Belgium was Ghent and if I recall correctly they all rode in the street and not on the sidewalk. I don't recall seeing so many in Brussels and none at all in Charleroi.

I really do prefer to let pedestrians have the sidewalks to themselves. We get enough danger just crossing the streets - we at least ought to be safe when walking on the sidewalk. But in some places in Germany I definitely did not feel safe on the sidewalk - in Berlin in particular.
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