Today Mr Mo and I went to the remains of the Children's and Maternity Hospital complex, founded in 1908, and located not very far from where I used to have my art studio in Weißensee (just two stops farther on the M4 tram line). It was… well, seems like it would be hard to restore much if any of it: there have been numerous fires in most if not all of the several buildings on the campus, some quite serious, and the holes in the roofs and resulting rain damage have led to ceilings caving in and all kinds of rot. I was pretty nervous about scuttling through a couple of corridors, and was glad not to have had any plaster or worse drop down from above.

Of course, the buildings have been stripped bare of anything even remotely of value or useful, including copper wire. Only a few window panes in one of the buildings hadn't been broken, but for the rest — all of the interior windows (for observation, nursing stations, and so on) were thoroughly smashed. What few fixtures had been left behind at the facility's closure in 1997 — by this I largely mean sinks and toilets — had nearly all been broken to bits. The graffiti was endless and of varying quality. Most doors were off their hinges, and those on the floor were in many instances spongy underfoot.

—And speaking of feet, we came across a surprising number of shoes. I understand, perhaps, the artistic statement that the ginormous pair of new-looking high heels left in a mostly inaccessible place might have been intended to make, but for the rest — gee. With so much broken glass everywhere, and I mean everywhere, seems to me that one would not knowingly abandon one's footware. Stoned? Drunk? Who knows. Very mysterious.

—As were most of the rooms we visited. Very few indications as to their functions, though I was pretty convinced that one of the rooms we saw had been an operating theater. The patients' rooms were fairly obvious, I think… but for the rest, no clue.

Evidence of now- (and perhaps long-)departed squatters was everywhere: filthy blankets and clothes, but surprisingly very little "current trash." It didn't seem to me that it's been used very much as a shelter in recent times — leaky, burnt-out roofs and no windows kind of limit its possibilities along those lines, I guess. When we first arrived, we saw some people in the upper floor of what must have been the hospital's dairy barn (converted to other uses after the cows went away in 1920) — but later it was clear that they were there to do some kind of photo shoot. I didn't see anyone that looked at all like they lived there, but there were several people who, like us, had come to explore. Today was a sunny day, if quite cold, and given the dreary forecast for the coming week, visiting this nearby place made for a fine winter's outing.

I was surprised to learn from the Abandoned Berlin entry linked above that the last addition to the hospital had been in 1987. How strange to me that it was closed down only ten years later and so thoroughly abandoned. I recognize that the birthrate has fallen, but still. And I recognize that Berlin — East Berlin in particular — had a great many more immediately urgent kinds of projects to deal with after the fall of the Wall, but there's something sad and almost criminal that this facility was left to the vandals instead of sensibly repurposed.