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News, Tips & Bargains : Joining the Halves of Berlin

January 23, 1994|PETRA FALKENBERG

Germany's long-divided capital is gradually growing together. Subway trains are once again operating along the entire length of the popular U-2 line that runs from the northern suburb of Pankow in the former Communist east, through the heart of the city to the Olympic Stadium in the leafy western outskirts.

For 32 years, the line--like the city it served--was cut in half by the Berlin Wall, with a 2.5-mile void in the middle. But on Nov. 13, with city officials laying on free soup and beer to all passengers as part of an inaugural celebration, the breach was finally closed, enabling Berliners once again to traverse the heart of the city by subway.

The line includes one of Berlin's most famous stations, Potsdamer Platz, the heart of the city during the period between the two World Wars.

Rebuilt after being damaged by Allied bombers during World War II, Potsdamer Platz existed on the edge of the political divide, serving as the last station in the east before it was closed completely by the construction of the Berlin Wall in August, 1961.

Today, the station seems destined to once again serve the heart of a democratic Germany's capital. The old streets leading into the platz have already been rebuilt, and major investors, including Daimler Benz and Sony, have announced plans to relocate there.

The area around Potsdamer Platz will also be within a short walk of several ministries when the government moves back to Berlin by the end of the century.

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