(Main Picture: Ampelmädchen © gheeke on Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)
If the Social Democratic Party gets its way, Ampelmann will be sharing crossing duties with an Ampel-lady. The group pushed for a motion on May 12th to include a “modern and self-confident” Ampelfrau to the streets of Berlin. “Women need to be more present in the appearances of our capital’s streets,” said Martina Matischok-Yesilcimen, the SPD district leader who signed the motion; “We’re a diverse city and that deserves to be seen.”
The Ampelmann made his début in 1969 in East Berlin. Created by Karl Peglau, a psychologist in the GDR’s transport services, the iconic (ironic?) lovable green civil servant of the oppressive regime was made to be more human like so people could identify and trust in him.
This tactic seemed to work even after the demise of the GDR. After the reunification of East and West Berlin, citizens fought to keep the Ampelmann instead of replacing him with a more standard shape. Some parts of western Berlin have even hired the Ampelmann to patrol their streets. Today, the Ampelmann is a symbol of Berlin and a testament to the city’s history. With six Ampelmann themed shops across the city, selling everything from Ampelmann t-shirts to Ampelmann noodles, he is also a huge tourist attraction. Perhaps an Ampelfrau would boost the Gruenemann’s already widespread appeal.
Cities in Germany have already starting introducing the Ampelfrau to the public. The east German town of Zwickau was the first to use the Ampelfrau in 2004 and other cities have followed suit such as Dresden and Fürstenwalde.
However, the Berlin Ampelfrau will be different than her older counterparts. The SPD says the Berlin Ampelfrau will not have the ponytail and wide skirt like the other Ampelfrau in Germany. Instead, Berlin’s Ampelfrau will be more “modern”. No design, however, has been published to what this new Berlin-style Ampelfrau will look like. . Will this traffic Mädchen be sporting a Skrillix haircut and a Club Mate in hand, perhaps?