Friday, April 25, 2014

Sachsenhausen (Frankfurt)

 Somewhere in the spring of 1978, as I was stationed at Rhein Main Air Base, one of the guys in the barracks took me to Sachsenhausen....a suburb of sorts of Frankfurt, on the south side of the river.

Sachsenhausen is the pub district.  It's where the nightlife of Frankfurt and Hessen itself....mingle.

Based on the twenty turns that my associate took from the autobahn....I had no idea where we were and how to find any return to the base.  Parking in those days....meant parking a fair distance away and walking at least twenty minutes.

In this half-mile by half-mile area....there were probably sixty pubs, restaurants, and bars.  It was all cobble-stone, and laid out in an efficient German manner.

Over my period of 1978 and 1979....I probably made eight to ten trips to the area.  One of my dorm buddies took me by subway and trolley car.....which made better sense and I completely understood the layout and location after that.

In those days....the late 1970s....Sachsenhausen probably made half-a-million dollars off Army and Air Force guys stationed in the Frankfurt area each week.  Since both the Army and Air Force's probably ninety-seven percent German now, with a mingling of Americans, Brits, and different Europeans who stop off to spend the weekend in Frankfurt.

I went back to Frankfurt, to Sachsenhausen yesterday.  Haven't walked the street or district since December of 1979.  Course, it was daylight....everything closed up and folks sleeping off the night prior.  It was dirtier than I remember....maybe less paint....maybe less appealing.  Course, I always went at night...with the darkness and shadows hiding the obvious.

Most of the names of the business operations have changed.  Some are designed in a way for a particular customer (heavy-scale Latino music, rap music, Irish folk music, hearty German food, Thai food or drink, etc).  That slant on things didn't exist in the late 1970s.

I would guess in the summer of 1978, there were at least three thousand American GI's in Sachsenhausen on a typical evening.  Some stayed there on the street all night and simply walked back to their barracks in Frankfurt in the morning.  The biggest event for the Americans?  Somewhere around New Year's eve in 1985....some type of chaos occurred and several hundred Army guys just started running through the streets of the mob formation.  No one said if it was the MPs who started some ID check or just some fight.  German cops arrived to kinda clean up the mess.

If you were interested in visiting the district?  Find Sachsenhausen on your city map and simply look to the far right of the district, coming over the bridge, and gaze over to your left.....where the pub district will start.  A parking garage has been built in recent years and is to your right after coming off the bridge (figure 300 meters).  It's five minutes walking from the parking garage.

My general advice?  I'd only go in the summer or spring period.  I wouldn't show up any earlier than 7PM.  There are restaurants on the outer edges, which serve good decent food and I'd start there first.  The cobblestones get a bit of your attention....try to avoid falling because there's broken glass everywhere (yeah, one of those significant safety factors which Army guys discovered if they got real drunk).

Liquid refreshment is of a average you won't be screwed over.  If you are unhappy with the music selection or character of the pub....just move on.  Most of the establishments stay open well past you can hang out enjoy yourself.  Trolley car?  They stop at the edge of the district, and will take you back to the Frankfurt Bahnhof.  Note, they tend to stop around 1AM.  Walking to the Bahnhof from there?  It'll take you thirty minutes.

So, if you were looking for a unclassy, unfashionable, hearty type of pub district....Sachsenhausen is it.  There's nothing modern ever going to be put into the district, and that's the way that customers prefer it.

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