The first flight took place in 1909. It was made by the French aviator Armand Zipfel. Zipfel was born in Lyon and learned about mechanics in his father’s workshop for musical instruments.
The Tempelhof Airport (now Tempelhofer Feld) opened on October 8th, 1923. Its field was originally used for parades by the Prussian forces and followingly by the German army, up until World War One. Its first terminal was build in 1927. Tempelhof was one of the three busiest airports, along with London’s Croydon and Paris’s Le Bourge, in Europe till the beginning of the Second World War.
Lufthansa airlines was founded in Tempelhof Airport. On January the 6th 1926 Deutsche Lufthansa airlines was created out of the merger of two commercial airlines. Its fleet numbered 162 aircrafts and a staff of more than a thousand and a half. Lufthansa’s first flight took off on April of that year.
In 1934 the architect Ernst Sagebiel was selected by the Nazi government to built a new, larger terminal. After it’s completion, it was cited the “mother of all modern airports” thanks to its size. It had separate levels for arrivals, departures and logistics and an impressive façade of shell limestone.
During the Berlin blockade, Tempelhof was the sole transit point in and out of West Berlin. On June the 20th 1948, following the division of Berlin by the Allied forces, Soviet forces arbitrarily blocked all aceess points to West Berlin. Historians deem it a counteraction to the introduction of Deutsche Mark in West Germany. The Western Allies set up the Berlin airlift, during which 9000 tons of of supplies were dropped daily throughtout West Berlin.
The Tempelhof Airport closed down on October 2008. The city deemed, at the time, the airport unfit for continuance for a number of enviromental and economic reasons. Thanks to an initiative against the closure of the airport, a referendum was held few months later. 62% of the votes was against the closure yet it did not meet the legal requirmentes to challenge the city’s ruling.
Tempelhof opened two years later as a park called Tempelhofer Feld. A budget of €60 million was dedicated to the modification of the airport as a park, until 2017. An opening ceremony was held on the 8th and 9th of May of 2010.
In 2014 Berliners voted against the city’s proposion to develop a part of the Park. An estimate of 4500 homes, new commercial areas and a public library were planned for building across 25% of the area. 64% of the locals, voted against it. The result was not received genially by a number of media outlets. An editor of Die Welt wrote “In the Prussian capital, hippie culture is state policy”
A number of US film productions have used the airport buildings as a set. Films like the Bourne Supremacy, Steven Spieldberg’s Bridge of Spies and the latest Hunger Games franchise shot some of their scenes in the terminal.
It is now one of the biggest refugee centers in Europe. Since the beginning of the year vast numbers of refugees have been floaking to Germany. The Tempelhof Projekt, the agency developing the space, has been charged with the difficult task to house up to 7000 thousand refugees from Syria, Afganistan and Iraq. “It’s not a space designed for living” a spokeswoman told the New York Times.