The Alexanderplatz in Berlin
During World War II, Alexanderplatz was almost completely destroyed. From the pre-war buildings, only the Berolinahaus (1) and the Alexanderhaus (2), both constructed 1930 - 1932 (Architekt: Peter Behrens), were rebuilt.
The plaza received its current urban form between 1966 - 1971, during the course of the reconstruction of East Berlin's city-center. The original surface was thereby enlarged to 3 hectares, and transformed into a pedestrian zone. On the northwestern side of the plaza arose the Centrum-Warenhaus, (Central Warehouse), today Kaufhof (3), and directly next to this the 123 m high Hotel Stadt Berlin, today the Forum Hotel (4). These buildings, as well as the ten-story Haus der Elektroindustrie (House of the Electrical Industry) (5) and the seven-story Haus des Reisens (House of Travel) (6) were designed by Roland Korn. The Haus des Lehrers (House of the Instructor) (7) and the Kongresshalle (Congress Hall) (8) were built between 1961 - 1964, Architect: Hermann Henselmann, who also designed the 365 m high Fernsehturm (television tower) (9).
Traversing the concrete surface of the plaza is a spiral-formed paving, whose stylistic point of departure is the Brunnen der Völkerfreundschaft (Fountain of International Friendship) (10), completed in 1969. This is especially recognizable from the television tower's viewing platform. The Weltzeituhr (World Clock) (11) was erected in the same year. Its rotary dial displays the current time in selected capitals around the world.
Alexanderplatz received its current name in the spring of 1805, during a visit to Berlin by the Russian czar Alexander. Before this it was referred to as »Oxen Plaza« or »Oxen Market«, because it served as a wool and livestock market into the 19th century. Beginning in the late 18th century, the southern part was used as a drill ground, giving it the additional name »Parade Plaza«.
A station for city and long distance trains was built in 1882, and in 1913 an underground station was added. The plaza became even more of a bustling traffic center due to the streetcars and the various roads into the countryside which met here.
At that time, the landmark for the plaza as well as the city itself was a 7.5 m high, copper-embossed figure called the »Berolina«. Erected in 1895, the statue had to yield to the extension of the underground in 1927, received a new site in 1933, and in 1944, when the wartime economy was in need of scrap metal, it too was melted down. With his 1929 novel »Berlin Alexanderplatz«, Alfred Döblin created a literary monument to the plaza.
In 1993, architects Hans Kollhoff and Helmut Timmermann won the competition for the urban redesign of Alexanderplatz. Their concept provided for the construction of 13 high-rises (each reaching 150 m). After further modification of the development plan, 10 remained. When their actual construction will begin remains to be seen.
(Translation: Holly Austin)
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Denkzeichen 4. November 1989