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View over Alexanderplatz
Alexanderplatz at night
Neighborhoods in Berlin-Mitte: Old Cölln [1] (with Museum Island [1a], Fisher Island [1b]), Altberlin [2] (with Nikolaiviertel [2a]), Friedrichswerder [3], Neukölln am Wasser [4], Dorotheenstadt [5], Friedrichstadt [6], Luisenstadt [7], Stralauer Vorstadt (with Königsstadt) [8], Alexanderplatz Area (Königsstadt and Altberlin) [9], Spandauer Vorstadt [10] (with Scheunenviertel [10a]), Friedrich-Wilhelm-Stadt [11], Oranienburger Vorstadt [12], Rosenthaler Vorstadt [13]

Alexanderplatz (German: [ʔalɛkˈsandɐˌplats] (About this soundlisten)) is a large public square and transport hub in the central Mitte district of Berlin, near the Fernsehturm. Berliners often call it simply Alex, referring to a larger neighbourhood stretching from Mollstraße in the northeast to Spandauer Straße and the Rotes Rathaus in the southwest.

Contents

HistoryEdit

 
Alexanderplatz in 1796
 
Alexanderplatz in 1912
 
Tram passing the World Clock
 
Alexander Platz

Early historyEdit

Originally a cattle market outside the city fortifications, it was named in honor of a visit of the Russian Emperor Alexander I to Berlin on 25 October 1805 by order of King Frederick William III of Prussia. The square gained a prominent role in the late 19th century with the construction of the Stadtbahn station of the same name and a nearby market hall, followed by the opening of a department store of Hermann Tietz in 1904, becoming a major commercial centre. In 1909 the first cinema the Union-Theater opened. The U-Bahn station of the present-day U2 line opened on 1 July 1913.

Its heyday was in the 1920s, when together with Potsdamer Platz it was at the heart of Berlin's nightlife, inspiring the 1929 novel Berlin Alexanderplatz (see 1920s Berlin) and the two films based thereon, Piel Jutzi's 1931 film and Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 15½ hour second adaptation, released in 1980. About 1920 the city's authorities started a rearrangement of the increasing traffic flows laying out a roundabout, accompanied by two buildings along the Stadtbahn viaduct, Alexanderhaus and Berolinahaus finished in 1932 according to plans designed by Peter Behrens.

East GermanyEdit

 
The Press Cafe in 1977. The mural displaying the Marxist view of the press has been covered over by commercial advertising.
 
The Fernsehturm Berlin seen from a distance

Alexanderplatz has been subject to redevelopment several times in its history, most recently during the 1960s, when it was turned into a pedestrian zone and enlarged as part of the German Democratic Republic's redevelopment of the city centre. It is surrounded by several notable structures including the Fernsehturm (TV Tower).

After German reunificationEdit

Ever since German reunification, Alexanderplatz has undergone a gradual process of change with many of the surrounding buildings being renovated. Despite the reconstruction of the tram line crossing, it has retained its socialist character, including the much-graffitied "Fountain of Friendship between Peoples" (Brunnen der Völkerfreundschaft), a popular venue.

In 1993, architect Hans Kollhoff's master plan for a major redevelopment including the construction of several skyscrapers was published.[1] Due to a lack of demand it is unlikely these will be constructed. However, beginning with the reconstruction of the Kaufhof department store in 2004, and the biggest underground railway station of Berlin, some buildings were redesigned and new structures built on the square's south-eastern side. Sidewalks were expanded to shrink one of the avenues, a new underground garage was built, and commuter tunnels meant to keep pedestrians off the streets were removed.[1] The surrounding buildings now house chain stores, fast-food restaurants, and fashion discounters.[1] The Alexa shopping mall, with approximately 180 stores opened nearby in 2007, and a large Saturn electronic store was built and opened in 2008. The CUBIX multiplex cinema, which opened in November 2000, joined the team of Berlin International Film Festival cinemas in 2007, and the festival shows films on three of its screens.[2] In January 2014, a 39-story residential tower designed by Frank Gehry was announced, but this project was put on hold in 2018.[3]

Many historic buildings are located in the vicinity of Alexanderplatz. The traditional seat of city government, the Rotes Rathaus, or Red City Hall, is located nearby, as was the former East German parliament building, the Palast der Republik. The Palast was demolished from 2006-2008 to make room for a full reconstruction of the Baroque Berlin Palace, or Stadtschloss, which is set to open in 2019.[4][5]

Alexanderplatz is also the name of the S-Bahn and U-Bahn stations there. It is one of Berlin's largest and most important transportation hubs, being a meetingplace of three subway (U-Bahn) lines, three S-Bahn lines, and many tram and bus lines, as well as regional trains.

It also accommodates the Park Inn Berlin and the World Time Clock, a continually rotating installation that shows the time throughout the globe, and Hermann Henselmann's Haus des Lehrers. During the Peaceful Revolution of 1989, the Alexanderplatz demonstration on 4 November was the largest demonstration in the history of East Germany.

Image galleryEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Dalia Fahmy (May 27, 2014), "25 Years After Communism, Eyesores Spur Landmark Debate" The Wall Street Journal.
  2. ^ "Berlinale venues". berlinale.de. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  3. ^ https://www.dezeen.com/2018/05/03/frank-gehry-berlin-skyscraper-hines-hochhaus-on-hold/
  4. ^ "The New Palace: Neo-Baroque in Berlin". 4 December 2008. Retrieved 17 August 2018 – via Spiegel Online.
  5. ^ https://www.dw.com/en/finally-berlin-has-its-palace-again/a-45176364

Further readingEdit

  • Weszkalnys, Gisa (2010). Berlin, Alexanderplatz: Transforming Place in a Unified Germany. Berghahn Books.

External linksEdit