Episode 36: Super Bon Bonn

(Above: The new residents of the former embassy of Iceland are putting their flagpole to good use and supporting their favorite football club. Photo cc: Claus Moser)

Cities are pretty robust organisms, they tend to survive even when put under tremendous stress and strain. Local industries rise and fall, people immigrate and emigrate, but most of these changes happen over decades. What happens to a city when its purpose is stripped away virtually overnight? Bonn was the quiet, unlikely capital of West Germany and then the newly unified Germany for 50 years, and then the Cold War ended and the seat of government was moved back to its historic home of Berlin. Ten years after the move, Bonn is finding its new identity and purpose, but hidden clues in the urban landscape remind us of the city it used to be.

Cyrus Farivar takes us on a tour of his neighborhood in what used to be the diplomatic quarter of Bonn with local historian and tour guide Michael Wenzel. Farivar is the science and technology editor at Deutsche Welle English and the author of The Internet of Elsewhere – about the history and effects of the Internet on different countries around the world.


-Here is the Google Street View of the former French Embassy in Bonn.

-This is the recent New York Times article about the “Two Capital Cities” that was referenced in the piece.

-“Village-Class Capital : Bonn—It Rhymes With Yawn” from the LA Times, also referenced.

-“Super Bon Bon” by Soul Coughing.

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