The German Way

The Germans gave us the pretzel, the Volkswagen, and the current pope. But that's not all.

Our own Christine Lagorio has been on a fellowship in Berlin for several weeks. This week, in her Letter From Berlin, chronicles some of the more surprising innovations of German ingenuity:

They are little things, but a good deal of the time, in Berlin, they leave me impressed with their simplicity, and sometimes wondering "why don't we do this in America?"
(CBS / Christine Lagorio)
Example: To enter my small, generally low-tech apartment building, I place a blue stick the size of a pen cap up to a red dot on the wall. The heavy door pops open. To get into my office, I walk into a street-level elevator, place a card on a sensor and it takes me to my floor.

Since coming to Germany, I haven't seen crowds build up waiting to go through turnstiles for public transportation. To board the U-Bahn, one simply walks into the station, buys a ticket from an automated machine and waits for the train a certain number of minutes, which are displayed on an electronic board. Train doors open when you open them yourself, and close automatically when it is time to go. Quite unlike in the New York subway, here I've never interacted with - or even seen - an U-Bahn worker.

Efficiency bonus: When leaving the station, you can approach a still escalator and it will start moving to take you up.

Visit her column for more about life in Germany today.