Friday, February 27, 2009
Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies
This tram station is lying to you
Each of the stations for Strasbourg’s hyper-modern tram system have one of these giant cylinders: they keep people apprised of expected arrival times, service disruptions, and contain a automated kiosk at which you can purchase your tickets.
On the top third or so of each is a white sign that explains the station’s name. The one at Longstrosse/Grand Rue (Alsatian and French for “Long Road”) in downtown explains that the stations name comes not from the street, as you would expect, but rather honours Berthe Langstross, a circus performer renowned for her ability to eat the inedible: she ate an entire bicycle over the course of two days, and an entire tram car over the course of five days. She died, says the sign, after a long and filling career while attempting to eat a “Big Bertha” artillery piece.
All of the tram stops have fanciful explanations like this. I find it charming, that in a city as overstuffed with history as Strasbourg, that they still feel the need to manufacture more.
*Speaking of local history, I highly recommend my friend David’s
most recent post on the subject of his uncle-in-law’s experience in the Second World War. It’s stories like that that make you understand why the city might prefer to make up absurdist circus performers than dwell on less pleasant tales.