An interesting thing happens when like-minded people move in to the same building or on to the same street and form a symbiotic microcosm- the street or building comes alive with human energy.
This human energy explosion happened on Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco in the 60s, it was happening all over the place in NYC in the 70s, and it happened on a single street in East Berlin during the 80s.
Hufelandstrasse was an island of culture in the Soviet-controlled city, and photographer Harf Zimmermann immediately fell in love with the street and its residents when he moved there in 1981:
“Everyone seemed to feel connected to the place and responsible for it, to be acting in tacit consensus and always working to save the diversity of their island from the sea of gray for as long as possible,” says Harf Zimmermann.
From the Steidl Books description of Zimmermann’s book Hufelandstrasse, 1055 Berlin:
For over a year, Zimmermann photographed almost daily on the street with his large-format camera, patiently asking shop-owners and residents if he could take their picture. Hufelandstrasse was then home to a cross-section of citizens of the German Democratic Republic, as well as many family-run stores and workshops—from bakeries and cobblers, to a pet shop and even an atelier for repairing women’s stockings—an uncanny concentration of private business which had otherwise been fazed out by the communist state.