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OCTOBER 7, IQII
A REAL ESTATE MAN'S IMPRESSIONS OF BERLIN.
The German Capita! Has No Skyscrapers, but It Beats New York in Big Transactions
â€”A $17,000,000 Dealâ€”Brokers Are Well Organizedâ€”The Increment Tax.
By ELiSHA SNIFFIN, Secretary of itie Board o! Brokers.
T SUBMIT a few of my impressions of
* Berlin, particularly those which have
a bearing on real estate, and I trust some
o^ them may be of interest.
Upon entering the office of Adolf RosenÂ¬
baum, president of the "Verein Berliner
Grundstiicks und Hypotheken iVIakler (SoÂ¬
ciety of Berlin Real Estate and Jlortgage
Brokers), an organization similar to our
own Real Estate Board of Brokers, my atÂ¬
tention was caught by a framed motto
burned in wood which read: "Nur die
Ruhe itann es iiiachen," the meaning of
which 1 found of much value during my
stay in this wonderful city. The visitor
notes at once the repose of a well-ordered
city, free from confusion in any part of
its vast business districts, with streets,
splendidly paved and clean as a pin, that
are brightened by flower beds and garden
effects in vivid colors. Berlin reminds one
of a huge garden in full bloom.
You at once remarli the many fine large
stores, all seeming to do a prosperous
business; rarely do you flnd a vacant one,
and, when you do, it is for good reasons,
such as a new building being erected next
There is a building and remodeling
activity all over the city and even in the
suburbs that reminds you ot New York.
They have beaten us in originality and
variety of design, and our style of square
block is here the rarest of things. BerÂ¬
lin streets are laid out in beautifully
curved lines, starting or ending in squares
or public places, all containing fountains
or monuments; and flower-beds are everyÂ¬
where. If flower-beds are not placed in
the center of the streets they are on the
edge of the sidewalk; if not there, they
are directly in front of the building line.
The effect is varied in the different streets,
but all owners have a community of inÂ¬
terest in upholding the beauty of design
in their particular section.
UNT'eR den LINDEN.
Probf.bly the best known street is Unter
den Linden, famous for its stately trees.
On this street are some of the best known
hotels, museums, the Russian and French
Embassies, etc. It commences at the Royal
Castle, the Berlin residence of the EmÂ¬
peror, and runs to the Brandenburger
Thor. where commences the Tiergarten,
the largest and finest public parlv in BerÂ¬
lin, at the other end of which is one of the
Some of the most beautiful town resiÂ¬
dences are situated around the Tiergarten.
The drives and bridle paths in this park
are much used by the aristocracy, and
when in residence the Emperor is seen alÂ¬
most daily riding a superb horse or drivÂ¬
ing, usually from eight to ten in the
The principal.street for high-class shopÂ¬
ping is Leipziger Strasse. It commences
at the Potsdamer Platz. where are the
magniflcent buildings of A. Wertheim and
other well-known firms. The street conÂ¬
tinues to the Spittel Markt.
In the city proper, among the finest resiÂ¬
dential streets is that known as the Kur-
furstendam. It is the prolongation of
the Tiergarten Strasse and runs through
Charlottenburg lip to the Grtinewald colÂ¬
ony. Both sides of this beautiful street
aj-e lined with high-class modern apartÂ¬
ment houses. The rents range from 4,000
marks to 10,000 marks for eight to fifteen
rooms, not counting servants' rooms,
kitchen, storerooms, etc.
Another item of interest, perhaps, is BerÂ¬
lin gay life at night. It is brilliant and
highly interesting. But one is apt to be
oddly struck with the sight of some of the
city's most palatial amusement houses
next door to its most prominent banking
institutionsâ€”right in the banking center.
Among such is the Palais de Danse, a very
flne building about one year old, which
cost with its site about 7,000,000 marks.
This and other popular places turn night
into day from 11 p, m. to 4 a. m. From 8
a. m. to 7 p. m. the same street is a beeÂ¬
hive of industry.
I may cite the suburb of Schoeneberg
as an apartnient house quarter correÂ¬
sponding to our Washington Heights secÂ¬
tion. Schoeneberg was founded by one
of Berlin's most prominent real estate
operators, George I-Iaberland, who formed
a syndicate and bought the site, which
about ten years ago was farm land. It
took him several years to get control of
what he wanted, and he then started to
lay out model streets on curved lines.
When his landscape designs were comÂ¬
pleted, large plots were sold off to builders
and building companies for improvement,
his company retaining absolute control
over both the landscape designs and the
architectural treatment of the buildings to
be constructed. His company offered a
number of prizes for architectural designs,
the first award being 8,000 marks, the
second 6,000 marks, and so on. There are
at present some five hundred houses in the
city of Schoeneberg, and the architects
were certainly artists, for I have never
seen so many beautiful designs before in
APARTMENT HOUSE RENTS.
Apartment houses are either four or five
stories in height, according to the section
of the city and the value of the land. They
contain from two to three families on a
floor in eight to nine room apartments.
Eerliners do not count the rooms in an
apartment as we do; only inhabitable
rooms, excluding storerooms, servants'
rooms, kitchen and bathrooms are meant
when one speaks of, say, a nine-room
apartment. Suites bring from. 2,000 to
2,800 marks rent a year, and would bring
easily in New York 5,000 to S.OOO marks.
The rooms are enormous, many of them
being 20 by 25, 18 by 20, etc. The decoraÂ¬
tions furnished by the owners are very
beautiful; ordinary painted woodwork you
do not flnd, everything being done in the
very flnest white enamel. Even the floors
are enamel paint, except in some of the
principal rooms, which have inlaid hardÂ¬
All the rooms have plenty of light and
air, the rear court-yards showing again
the owners' community of interest, as the
court-vards of probably half a dozen may
be treated as one garden. No solid wood
fences separating the properties are alÂ¬
lowed. A high iron fence of the latticeÂ¬
work effect marks the division of ownerÂ¬
ship In a great many instances the owner
has placed prettily designed white enamel
benches, one for each of the different tenÂ¬
ants in his house. Every apartment has
a balcony on both the front and the rear,
and these are also filled with flowers and
growing plants; so you can imagine how
beautiful the premises are.
SCHOENEBERG AND ITS FOUNDER.
Schoeneberg is now six years old. and
has been a huge success for its promoters.
Indeed, when vacancies occur there,
apartments are snapped up from a wait- -
ing list; yet the tenant is obliged to bring
his own gas and electric light fixtures
with him. Neither are you provided with
washstands. hut you can flnd the plumbÂ¬
ing connections in the wall. Tou may
have your washstand as simple or elaboÂ¬
rate as you like, but you must pay all
the plumbing bills for connection. The
lease is for one to three years, and you
must give the owner three months' noÂ¬
tice of your intention on its termination;
he, in turn, must serve you with three
months' notice should he wish to raise
There are now many sections liltc
Schoeneberg. The city does not help new
deyelopnients of this sort in any way, hut
after they are finished their streets and
gardens, etc., are taken over and cared
for by the city. For the most part, the
houses are owned by realty companies or
syndicates. The cost of transportation
from the suburbs to the business district
is about '2Vi. cents on cars in which there
is plenty of room to sit down.
It was through the courtesy and expert
guidance of that wonderful man, George
liaberland, that I thoroughly inspected
Schoeneberg and other parts of Berlin.
He is president of the Berlinische Boden-
gesellschaft (Berlin Realty Co.). which,
under his management, has paid 100 per
cent, in dividends annually for a number
of years. He is also a Royal Comniercial
Councillor, and while the 'busiest of men,
he gave the better part of a day to me.
As a rule, apartment houses over here
are not managed by real estate firms, but
by the owner himself, with the assistance
of a janitor and his wife, who are in a
class by themselves. The houses have
more privacy than ours, and sleepy hall-
boys, elevator men and the like are not
met with here. Tou ring for an entrance
and arc at once shown to the elevator by
the janitor or his wife, who are politeness
personified. The car stops at your door
by an electric device, returning in the
same mannerâ€”no noise, everything of the
A part of .Schoeneberg is sometimes reÂ¬
ferred to as "the District of Columbia,"
on account of the many Americans reÂ¬
siding there. Its center is the Bayrische
Plalz, the delight of the Berliner and the
visitor alike, with its beautiful fountains,
grottoes, white benches, green lawns and
fiower borders. Prom this center radiate
magnificently laid-out streets, whose
buildings vie in originality of design. One
of the streets is in the architecture of old
Nuremberg. It might have been taken
from the stage decorations of Wagner's
"Meistersinger." The street picture is an
exact copy of historic prototypes. SchoÂ¬
eneberg. together with other suburbs on
similar lines, is making the newer Berlin
a city of exceptional 'beauty-
BIG REAL ESTATE DEALS.
I have great respect for the magnitude
of our realty operations in New Tork, but
Berlin can make us sit up and take notice
when it comes to Ibuying undeveloped
suburban land and taking chances.
Imagine a seventeen-million-dollar deal
in vacant lots in New York! Recently
a part of the Tempelbof Parade Ground,
the colossal exercise ground of the Kaiser's
own regiments, was bought by a syndiÂ¬
cate formed by Mr. Haberland under the
leadership of the Deutsche Bank and the
Berlin Realty Company. The property
was hought from the government for 72,-