At a point where five roads converged at the old Potsdam Gate, Potsdamer Platz became the busiest and most recognized intersection in Germany – if not Europe. It became so busy that Europe’s first recognised traffic lights were installed in 1924 to help keep things moving.
Its heyday was during the Roaring Twenties, when film stars such as Marlene Dietrich helped catapult Berlin onto the world stage of show business. It was the place to be and be seen. Grand hotels were built to accommodate the rich and famous, as did luxury stores, bars, and restaurants. The inter-war years had been good to Berlin, but it wasn’t to last.
WWII dealt it a devastating blow. Situated as it was, near to Hitler’s Reich Chancellery, it took the full brunt of several air raids that reduced it to rubble. Very few buildings were left standing – the Weinhaus Huth being one notable exception.
After the war was over, the square fared little better. The Soviet, American, and British zones collided at Potsdamer Platz and when the Berlin Wall was built it ran straight through the middle, leaving the area a total wasteland between the eastern and western sectors.
With re-unification came a blank canvas for Europe’s largest building site and the area is now a thriving intersection once again. The modern architecture may not appeal to everybody, but whatever your thoughts about it are, there’s no denying that Potsdamer Platz has now become one of Berlin’s places to come to once again.