|Soviet soldiers guard the barbed wire, that would become the Berlin Wall, trapping the Brandenburg Gate behind it.|
|East Berlin workers build a new, higher wall with curved top (1977). Photo courtesy berlin-wall.org.|
|The Brandenburg Gate stands isolated and is disrepair in a no man's land breached by few (1977). Photo courtesy berlin-wall.org.|
|The graffiti-splattered western side of the Wall, 1986.|
Twenty-eight years later, the Wall came down. In bits and pieces, Berliners from both sides of the divide tore chunks from the reinforced walls, daring Moscow to stop them. Soviet guards stood by, keeping their guns lowered as people scrambled through the enlarged holes in the Wall and jumped up in jubilation as they entered the forbidden west side. By November 1989, it was official: The Berlin Wall was no more—if more psychologically than physically—and the city and Germany started marching toward reunification.
|The Wall, just before chunks were ripped down. Photo courtesy Christine Schoefer.|
|Soviet soldiers half-heartedly stand their ground as Berliners tear down a segment of the wall in 1989.|
The Berlin Wall crumbled bit by bit, and today little of the physical walls actually remain. A line through much of the city's center marks where parts of the Wall once stood. The Mauer neighborhood (the German word "mauer" literally means "wall") hosts the last large segment of the border, and a memorial park now stands in the former no-man's-land. The city's grid has been restored (as it were—Berlin developed in a haphazard way, reflecting the different ambitions of the royal families that took up residence in the 19th century), and neighborhoods east and west are thriving, full of energy and tourists. All seems well and healed, as development fueled by the German economy and foreign investment pounds on.
|The line marking where the Berlin Wall once stood in Potsdamer Platz|
|One of the very few watchtowers from the era of the Wall, near Potsdamer Platz.|
|A surviving section of the Wall. Several stand scattered near one of Berlin's business districts.|
|The largest surviving segment of the Berlin Wall, in the Mauer neighborhood|
|A memorial park now occupies a former no man's land behind the wall segment.|
|Looking east (second from above), then west. from the memorial park. This is the only street not restored to its pre-1961 state.|
|For young Berliners and tourists, this Wall Museum (one of several in the city) is as close as they'll come to the real thing, a segment of which remains across the street.|