BERLIN -- The gap between 65 Adalbertstrasse and 75 Adalbertstrasse is 100 yards and -- despite Wednesday's reunification of Germany -- 40 years wide.
At No. 65, in what was East Berlin, the residents shovel brown coal into tiled stoves in a constant battle against the city's wet chill. One block to the west, at No. 75, the tenants need only turn up the thermostat.
At No. 65, the toilet is in the hallway, shared by several families. At No. 75, some of the young tenants have spent $12,000 and more to install gleaming new bathrooms in the latest chic colors.
The bus that passes along Adalbertstrasse moves freely between the two parts of this long-divided neighborhood. But if a driver happens to live at No. 75, he earns four to six times the salary of a driver on the same route who lives at No. 65.
Nearly all traces of the Berlin Wall have been removed from this street, which connects the Kreuzberg section of old West Berlin and an isolated corner of what was once downtown in East Berlin. A new stretch of asphalt was laid last month to connect the two butt ends of Adalbertstrasse severed by the wall in 1961. The old no man's land between the two 12-foot-high concrete walls is now a flat swath of dirt and rubble, a fresh, jarring scar in the turn-of-the-century cityscape.
At No. 65, the paint is peeling off the balconies of workers' apartments. The stairwell lights do not work, and the community TV room is locked. The street is littered with trash and bare of trees.
There are big, old leafy trees outside No. 75, where a recent renovation job is holding up nicely. The tenants have filled the window sills with flower boxes, a rainbow of color on a street that until a few weeks ago was known for its comfort and quiet.
That's done now. East or west, the residents of Adalbertstrasse have lost their cul-de-sacs. Traffic flows constantly, and people walk back and forth, many of them eastsiders going west to work, shop or visit the many bars and restaurants.
"As soon as you cross over to the west, there's life all around you," said Rainer Hartmetz, 27, who lives on the east end of the block. "At night in the east, there's no one on the street." Hartmetz considers himself a Kreuzberg resident these days -- he can't get enough of the ethnic mix of the west side's most diverse section, a magnet for Turks, political radicals and hundreds of young people whose wardrobe consists solely of black garments.
But on the west side, Lore Gubanow, a retiree who has lived near this block her entire life, said it will take years to make the two stretches of Adalbertstrasse a single neighborhood.
"It used to be, but it isn't now," she said. "The people on this side have nothing to do with the people over there. I met some of them, but it's all very superficial so far. We were all very excited when the wall came down, but then came a distance.
"The distance comes from our side, because our resentment is building. We're realizing that we have to pay to make their lives like ours. They had the misfortune to live in the Soviet zone, and we had the advantage of the Marshall Plan. So in a way, it's our duty to pay, but still, people resent it."
When the two Germanys became one a few days ago, some of the surface differences between the two sides of Berlin dropped away. New streetcar connections opened from one side of the city to the other. The police forces merged, and the East Berlin officers got new uniforms.
But in ways little and large, life continues at different paces, in different styles. Many prices are still higher in the east, a result of the old East German state consumer agency's near monopoly on grocery stores. It is still difficult to get a phone connection from one side of the city to the other, and callers have to dial as if they were making an international call.
For women living at No. 65, abortions are legal. Women at No. 75 must testify before a panel of physicians if they want to circumvent tight restrictions on abortion.
People on the west end of Adalbertstrasse have to keep their cars in good enough condition to pass strict inspections and meet tight exhaust standards. On the east end, the old East German Trabants have little chance of meeting the all-German standards. When their East German registrations expire next spring, many fear they will be forced to scrap the cars.
Many residents of the east end of the block have rushed to join the western life, often taking less-skilled jobs for much more money than they could earn in the east.
"It doesn't matter what you do, no matter how low it is, the pay is much higher in the west," said novice salesman Roberto Jacobs, 26.
Jacobs still pays only 45 marks a month rent, about $30, although many of the old East German rent subsidies are expected to be lifted in January, when housing costs could jump 300 percent on the east end of Adalbertstrasse.
Although the end of the communist system means innumerable and dramatic changes in their basic assumptions of daily life, many east side residents said they are making the adjustment, taking it all a piece at a time.
"Right now, it doesn't bother me that we earn less," said Hartmetz, a househusband whose wife is a nurse in the east, where she makes about a quarter of the salary she would get in the west if hospitals there accepted her university degree, which is not certain. "Gradually, it will all equalize."
Back in the west, Gubanow, the retiree, predicts that it will take several years before her neighbors down the street truly seem to be neighbors. "Politically it was correct to do all this quickly," she said. "They had no choice. Things just collapsed over there. But personally, it went too fast. We are too different."