Leipzig 1850/2015: comparing the cityscapes through 30-meter long images!

Leipzig 1850/2015: comparing the cityscapes through 30-meter long images!

What if you could view a 3.5 km long street scene in one image? And what if you could compare it to its predecessor cityscape 165 years earlier? Both is possible in a new exhibition in the east german city Leipzig!

The project started off two years ago, when publisher Mark Lehmstedt approached Leipzig based photographer Jörg Dietrich with a lithography from 1850, which presented the whole inner city circle of Leipzig (Leipziger Ring) in ten panoramas, continuously stitched in one very long leporello. Could this be repeated as a photography for the city’s millennial anniversary in 2015? It could. Jörg Dietrich created a comparable continuous photographic panorama composition of the Leipziger Ring today.

This kind of linear panoramic image, naturally, is quite different from the classic panoramas we all know. Created manually from multi-perspective images taken along the 3.5 km long street scene, it visualizes a view of the city which is not possible to be viewed in reality. This way one can examine how a city is structured and which architectural styles it is shaped by. Looking closer we see the traces time has left and how society is occupying these buildings today.

leipzig_04Panorama sections. source: PanoramaStreetline.com / Jörg Dietrich

The exhibition and the accompanying book is adding an extra dimension to these observations by paralleling the photographic panorama with the aforementioned lithographic panorama of 1850. Presented one upon the other we can directly compare the buildings, the city structure and the society of 1850 and 2015. Wit some surprises – it is no more than two buildings along the complete Leipziger Ring that still exist today. Furthermore lots of the modern streets exiting the centre didn’t exist yet in the 1850 city, still structured by its former medieval walls.

In terms of skyscrapers the photographic panorama shows both, the cities highest skyscraper and its first highrise. The City-Highrise was built as a university skyscraper (nicknamed Uniriese – “university giant”) during GDR times in the early 1970s by the architect Hermann Henselmann and is meant to look like an opened book from afar, to mirror the cities century long importance as the leading book publishing city of the german speaking world. The building has been germany’s highest building for about a year, before Frankfurt took that spot forever since. The Krochhochhaus, also situated on Augustusplatz, is the city’s oldest highrise, built in the late 1920s. It was designed inspired by the Torre dell’Orologio in Venice, Italy. To convince the population of the city, a dummy of the top floors had to be built first, before the permission was given to erect it to its full height.

leipzig_03Exhibition. source: PanoramaStreetline.com / Jörg Dietrich

Given the uniqueness of this kind of cityscape visualization it might be interesting to think about other cities to realize such projects in. While long panoramic views have been made of the Thames banks or the former Wall in Berlin before, projects visualizing long architectural scenes are rare. As are compact city circles like the one in Leipzig. A promising idea would be to visualize complete major streets of cities like the Rue de Rivoli in Paris, the Friedrichsstrasse in Berlin, Istiklal Caddesi in Istanbul, the Stroget in Copenhagen or the shores of the Danube in Budapest.

Both panoramic views of the Leipziger Ring are presented in 30 metre wide prints in the big hall of the central municipal library of Leipzig until the 13th of june 2015. An accompanying book presenting both views in comparison and as complete prints over several pages is published by the Lehmstedt Verlag (ISBN 978-3-95797-011-4). 

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