By the time Germany was unified in October 1990, much of the wall had been torn down. A few small segments remain as memorials.
Following the division of the city of Berlin in 1949, the economies of the two halves of the city were integrated into the economies of the two newly separated republics of Germany.
The economy of East Berlin was totally integrated with that of East Germany and also benefited from a steady stream of visitors from West Berlin and West Germany. East Berlin was the hub of East Germany's commercial, financial, and transportation systems, and, although it comprised less than one-half of the former unified city, it was also a huge manufacturing center. Among its principal manufactures were steel and rubber goods, electrical and transportation equipment, chemicals, and processed food. The Spree River, which is connected by waterways with the Baltic Sea, widened in East Berlin to form a major inland harbor. An airport at Schönefeld, just south of the city, served both East and West Berlin.
Much of West Berlin's industrial capacity was destroyed in World War II, and its economy suffered again during 1948 and 1949, when the USSR blockaded the area in an attempt to drive out the Western powers. Beginning in the 1950s, however, West Berlin's economy was revitalized with a great deal of assistance from West Germany and from the United States, which provided support under the European Recovery Program (Marshall Plan). The city soon became an important manufacturing center, producing electrical and electronic equipment and substantial quantities of machinery, metal, textiles, clothing, chemicals, printed materials, and processed food. The city also developed as a center for international finance, for research and science, and for the important West German film industry. It was linked to West Germany by highways, canal systems, a railroad, and airplane services, which used Tegel, Tempelhof, and Gatow airports in West Berlin and Schönefeld airport in nearby East Germany.
With the destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1989 the two halves of the city were once again physically integrated. Their economic integration became official in July 1990. East Berlin underwent a greater economic upheaval, with many formerly state-owned businesses succumbing to privatization.
While reunification (Die Wende, or “the change”) allowed many families and friends long separated by the Berlin Wall to reunite, it also brought with it numerous economic and social problems. Berlin has been forced to deal with housing shortages, strikes and demonstrations, unemployment, and increases in crime and right-wing violence against foreigners. Unification costs in Germany have led to increased taxes, reduced government subsidies, and cuts in social services.
Points of Interest
The imposing Brandenburg Gate (1788-1791), inspired by the Propylaea of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, is located at the western end of Unter den Linden, a famous boulevard in Berlin that extends east to Museum Island, in the Spree River; the Brandenburg Gate was closed to free access until December 1989. On or near the boulevard are the classical-style State Opera House (1743); the State Library (1774-1780); the baroque Arsenal building (1695-1706; designed by Andreas Schlüter), now housing a historical museum; Saint Hedwig's Cathedral (1747-1773); the Gothic Church of Saint Nicholas (late 14th-early 15th century); the French Cathedral of the Platz der Akademie area, the heart of the French quarter in the 17th century; and the University of Berlin (1810), whose faculty has included 27 Nobel Prize winners and philosopher G. W. F. Hegel. Well-known streets crossing Unter den Linden are the Friedrichstrasse and the Wilhelmstrasse, on which once stood the Reichschancery of Adolf Hitler.
Berlin's most famous boulevard is the Kurfürstendamm, which is lined with fashionable hotels, restaurants, shops, and movie theaters. At the boulevard's eastern end is a ruined tower, all that remains of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (1891-1895; destroyed during World War II), maintained as a reminder of the destructiveness of war. Adjacent to the ruins are a polygonal church and its separate campanile (1959-1961). Branching from the Kurfürstendamm is the Tauentzienstrasse, a major shopping street and the site of the Europa Center (1963-1965): a 22-story complex of restaurants, shops, offices, cinemas, a planetarium, and an ice-skating rink. To the northeast is the Tiergarten park, largest of Berlin's nearly 50 parks, which extends about 3 km (about 2 mi) to the Brandenburg Gate. In the Tiergarten are the large, modern Congress Hall (1957); the Reichstag building (1884-1894), once the seat of the German parliament, which was gutted by fire in 1933 and again damaged at the end of World War II, but which has since been largely restored; the Berlin Zoological Garden, the largest and one of the oldest in the world; and an aquarium. Near the Tiergarten is the Kulturform complex, including the Museum of Applied Arts; the Bauhaus Archives and Museum, commemorating the Bauhaus school of architecture and design (1919-1933); the Musical Instrument Museum; the National Library; the New National Gallery (1968), designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, housing a collection of 20th-century art; and the striking Philharmonie Concert Hall (1963), an asymmetrical structure that serves as the home of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Southeast of the Tiergarten is Oranienburger Strasse and environs, the heart of prewar Berlin's Jewish district. Revitalization of the area has included restoration of the New Synagogue (1866), which was badly damaged on Kristallnacht (see Holocaust) and by bombing. The synagogue is now a center for the study and preservation of Jewish culture. The area is also known for its art galleries, cafés, bars, and artists' studios. Berlin's oldest Jewish cemetery is nearby.
Museum Island, in eastern Berlin, is the site of the Pergamon Museum (1930), with a fine collection of Greco-Roman and Asian art; the Bode Museum, with displays of ancient Egyptian and Byzantine art; and the National Gallery (1866-1876), with exhibitions of 19th-century painting.
On the eastern bank of the Spree is Alexanderplatz, a large square with restaurants and stores; nearby are the Television Tower (365 m/1197 ft) and Red Town Hall. A statue facing the eastern entrance to the town hall commemorates the Trummerfrauen (Rubble Women), thousands of women of all ages who cleared up vast quantities of rubble left in Berlin after World War II.
Forests and farmland cover nearly one-third of Berlin. In the southwestern part of the city is the vast Grunewald forest, which contains a great deal of woodland and the large Wannsee, formed by the Havel River, as well as a Renaissance-style hunting lodge (principally mid-16th century, with 18th-century additions), the large Olympic Stadium (built for the 1936 Olympic Games), and a broadcasting tower (1924-1926) measuring 138 m (453 ft) high.