Rote Insel (literally, Red Island) is the name colloquially given to a neighborhood in the Schöneberg district of the German capital, Berlin. As such, the Island is part of Berlin's 7th administrative borough, Tempelhof-Schöneberg.
On the Berlin city map, the neighborhood is easily located within the distinctive triangle (formed by railroad tracks) in the south-western part of the city center. Owing to the large trenches dug to accommodate these tracks for trains and light-rail, the only way to access this part of Schöneberg is by crossing one of the many bridges that span the tracks, thus forming the area into an "island." Additionally, the comparative isolation from the adjoining parts of Berlin is also an important reason for the area's being considered insular—it is therefore not an island in the conventional sense, i.e., surrounded by water.
The neighborhood is especially notable for its peculiar history, being very indicative of the sharp contrasts that modern German history since 1871 abounds with. Up until the end of World War I, roughly half of the Island's territory was characterized by its extensive use by the Prussian army, whereas the other half was a pronouncedly working-class residential district, dominated by voters of left-wing parties (hence the "red").
As the Island survived the allied air raids during World War II virtually intact, it has managed to maintain a great deal of its distinctive flavor to the present day. It is nowadays a very mixed neighborhood, populated by residents from fairly varied ethnic backgrounds, with a certain unobtrusive Bohème charm to it, but lacking the slightly exalted mannerisms so typical for the "hipper" quarters of post-reunification Berlin.
The most famous celebrity associated with the neighborhood is Marlene Dietrich, who was born in Leberstrasse 65 (then called Sedanstrasse) on December 27, 1901. The actress and singer Hildegard Knef, since 1926, lived in the same house where Dietrich was born. To this day, both women are very much a part of the local folklore on the island. Alfred Lion, known among jazz aficionados as founder of the legendary Blue Note record label, was also born in the neighborhood.
Landmark and industrial monument: a gasometer
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