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Wall Tour - Changes to the historical site

Potsdamer Platz

New buildings have mushroomed on Potsdamer Platz and the adjacent octagonal Leipziger Platz, restoring the original shape of the squares that had disappeared for decades, buried under border installations.

In the 1920s, Potsdamer Platz ranked as one of the busiest traffic junctions in the world thanks not least to the presence of Potsdam Station, which was located roughly where the semi-circular front of the Potsdamer Platz Kolonnaden stands today. A replica of the first set of traffic lights in Berlin dating back to 1924 recalls the busy past here. It was installed in 1997.

The buildings in this area were badly damaged in the war. During the popular uprising of 17th June 1953, the relatively unscathed Columbus Building, originally constructed to designs by architect Erich Mendelsohn in 1927, was set on fire. The Vaterland Building erected by Franz Schwechten in 1912 was damaged at the same time, the remains of which were demolished in 1976.

After the building of the Wall, the "vanished" Potsdamer Platz soon became a tourist attraction. A viewing platform on the west side enabled people to see what was happening across the border.

On 11th November 1989, just two days after the first breach in the Wall, a provisional crossing point was set up at Potsdamer Platz.

The DaimlerChrysler precinct was the first new development project to be completed on Potsdamer Platz in 1998. The Sony Center followed suit in 2000. The Park-Kolonnaden and the Beisheim Center with the new Ritz Carlton hotel were completed in the years thereafter.

The Leipziger Platz octagon is beginning to take shape. The red Info Box on the square was dismantled in January 2001 and by November 2002, the square itself had been planted with grassy lawns and trees. New structures such as the Canadian Embassy and the office buildings on the southeastern corner already give a glimpse of its future shape.

A few segments of the hinterland Wall on Leipziger Platz triggered a controversial debate at the turn of the millennium, as they stood in the way of development plans for the area. The Berlin Senate decided to donate three of them to the United Nations, which were subsequently installed outside the UN building in New York. The remaining segments and the watch-tower were listed as historical monuments in August 2001. The tower has been transferred eight metres to the east.

  Timeline Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz 2008; Photo: Cumulus/H. Guggenthaler

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