Alexanderplatz was named after a visit by Tsar Alexander in 1805. During the century that followed, Alex – as it is known to locals – became the much-admired heart of east Berlin and the embodiment of the city’s vibrant, cosmopolitan spirit. At the end of the 1920s, comprehensive reconstruction began – but was never completed. Martin Wagner, who at the time was head of municipal planning, wanted to transform Alexanderplatz into a commercial hub for east Berlin to rival Kurfürstendamm in the west: a plaza with cosmopolitan flair.
During World War II, Alexanderplatz was almost completely destroyed. Work on a new layout began in 1966. Prior to this, between 1961 and 1964 the Haus des Lehrers and the Berlin congress centre were built on the eastern edge of the plaza. The plan was that Alexanderplatz would now become East Berlin’s social and commercial centre as well as the heart of fine dining in the city.
Accordingly, the roundabout built in 1928 was removed, the trams disappeared completely and traffic was routed past (or even under) the plaza on widened main roads. The plaza was now exclusively a pedestrian zone. Between 1967 and 1971, towering buildings sprouted up around Alexanderplatz. The famous TV Tower also dates from this period – it was completed in 1969. At a height of 368 metres, it is still Germany’s tallest building to this day.