It was only a few years after the Berlin Wall came down. Café Adler was a little coffee shop, across the street from the infamous Checkpoint Charlie, one of the main crossing points between the old East and West Germany.
The, YOU ARE LEAVING THE AMERICAN SECTOR sign, in multiple languages, was still in place, even though in 1995, I was free to casually walk back and forth down Friedrichstraße, into the former East and West. Something that would have been much more difficult less than a decade earlier.
I found myself stopping into Café Adler quite often during my time in Berlin. Sitting in the window with my notebook, sipping a coffee, writing about my travels, and staring out the window imagining the history that had passed through there since the 1960s when the wall went up. It’s a cozy café. Large heavy velvet curtains near the doorway, keeping the winter chill out as customers came and went.
I made this picture as I sometimes do, laying on my stomach, for an interesting point of view. The gates of Checkpoint Charlie would have been a meter or two from my feet behind me. I found it ironic that I was making this photograph with my beautiful old Hasselblad film camera, made only a few years after the wall was constructed. The lens was a beautiful 80mm Carl Zeiss lens, made in Germany.
There are stories that the CIA used to have an office on the second floor of the building. Not entirely farfetched I’m sure. You could certainly feel the ghosts hanging in air that night.