Apart from the odd mention of gentrification on Wilhelmsburg, a river island that is home mostly to generations of poor immigrants and their descendants, the southern part of Hamburg is largely out of sight and out of mind. The Elbe, Hamburg’s industrial river, slices the city in two and is as much a psychological wall of water as a physical barrier, most of the attractions that constitute the city’s identity lying to the north. In recent years, the local government has been pumping money into projects to encourage people to make the “leap over the Elbe” and put southern Hamburg on the mental map.
I made the leap, taking the S-Bahn across the Elbe through Wilhelmsburg and Veddel to Harburg. After a short walk from the station I approached the red-brick university buildings, peering into the laboratories at the lab assistants in their white coats counting iron filings. The shaking platforms and centrifuges were gyrating and vibrating peacefully; the sterility a far cry from the gritty urbanism that this blog is supposed to be about. Seeing the Brightup logo I knew I had arrived at the Northern Institute of Technology Management (NIT) on the Technical University Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH) campus. The occasion for my leap across the Elbe: to meet Ana Cristina Agüero, a Costa Rican biotechnician, engineer, and entrepreneur. Ana showed me her office, introduced me to her colleagues (including the office dog) and we had a chat in the cafeteria below. My journey was nothing in comparison to her leap over the Atlantic.
What made her study at the NIT? Why did she become an entrepreneur? Why Hamburg? Continue reading Brightening up a gloomy city