photo series: arrival, departure, stasis - Bahnhofsviertel Frankfurt
For many of Frankfurt’s visitors the Bahnhofsviertel (“train station”) district is their first stop in Europe’s financial hub. Those tourists and travelling business man who are not frightened by a microcosm of European inner city problems often do not visit any other part of town since the Bahnhofsviertel offers a wide range of bars, restaurants and clubs - and an unparalleled red light district.
For some though the Bahnhofsviertel is their final destination. Developed between 1891 and 1915 around Frankfurt’s then newly build central station and scarcely half a square kilometre in size, the district has been a hotspot for Germany’s drug scene since the 1980s. Drug abuse in the Bahnhofsviertel reached its peak in the 1990s. Back then, hundreds of addicts could be seen injecting and smoking heroin in the neighbouring Taunusanlage park. After the city administration decided to decriminalise the addicts and to provide them with Methadone, clean needles and spaces where junkies could consume under sterile conditions, drug-related deaths and HIV infections were drastically reduced and far less addicts were seen roaming the districts streets.
Those improvement brought further change to the Bahnhofsviertel. Since the beginning of the Millenium dozens of new bars, clubs and restaurants opened up. Investors bought real estate in the district, advertising the small Bahnhofsviertel’s cosmopolitan vibe and thus attracting better-offs to the district who did not mind the rough clientele in the red light district and the remains of the drug scene.
Latter though was subjected to another big change for the last 15 years. Crack cocaine is now the most consumed drug in the district. About 300 crack addicts live in the district. And the administration still is not sure how to cope with it. Crack cocaine can not be tackled like heroin since addicts need a smoke or injection about every 15 minutes and thus prefer to consume in the streets. The drugs spread in the district has also made addicts drug habits more arbitrary, transforming them to so-called multi-toxic consumers who take almost every mind-altering substance they can lay their hands on.
But drug addicts, hustlers and prostitutes will always be part of the Bahnhofsviertel. They make some fear the district and others interested in a place, whose 4000 inhabitants from more that 100 countries represent most of the world and its social issues in that small part of town.