Where On Earth Is The Berlin Wall Now?
WHERE IS THE BERLIN WALL NOW?
25 YEARS AFTER ITS FALL, PIECES OF THE BERLIN WALL ARE SCATTERED ACROSS THE GLOBE
It was the 155km-long symbol of oppression that divided Germany’s capital for close to three decades, but 25 years after it was torn down, you’ll never guess some of the surprising places pieces of the Berlin Wall rest now.
Earlier this month as Germany commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s collapse, a haunting light installation of eight thousand luminous white balloons divided the city along the fault line it had all but erased decades earlier. There’s plenty to say about one of the world’s most famous barriers but equally interesting is perhaps the wall’s whereabouts now, because with so little left standing on the streets of Berlin it’s hard not to wonder where on earth the wall went.
In 1961, almost overnight concrete slabs turned West Berlin into an island of democracy within a sea of Soviet socialism. Continually reinforced and refined over time, it grew into a complex border-security system complete with a ‘death strip’ riddled with trenches, floodlights, patrol roads, attack dogs, electric fences and watchtowers staffed by trigger-happy guards. Nevertheless, after it was partially torn down on November 9 1989, such was the haste to forget, much of the wall seemed to disappear in a matter of days with almost all of the 96 mile-long barrier completely dismantled by 1990. Large chunks were simply crushed and repurposed for road construction. Unsurprisingly, while the city’s unified inhabitants showed little nostalgia towards the slabs, global interest in the gloomy blockade was booming and eventually over 140 of the Berlin Wall’s grim concrete slabs found new homes all around the world. Today they can still be seen memorialised in museums, schools and public squares, there’s even one particularly wacky Las Vegas public toilet worth visiting if you want to take wall spotting to weird places.
FIND THE BERLIN WALL & EXPERIENCE HISTORY
You wouldn’t know it given how little still stands in Berlin but apparently there’s no shortage left if you’re in the marketplace for a massive chunk of memorabilia; for the price of $8,700 plus shipping costs, you can actually own your very own slab of Cold War history. Good luck moving it though, these slabs are slightly heavier than the average garden gnome. Fancy painting a portion rather than placing it in your pool room? Interested parties can still apply to paint one of the 40 remaining pieces of the wall left in a Teltow storage area. Then if painting isn’t your forte, you can always potter into the Las Vegas hotel, where men can do something they would have been severely punished for doing pre-1989; pee on the Berlin Wall. For those content to experience history from slightly further afield, the following run down of the Wall’s final resting places might just peak your interest.
East Side Gallery, Berlin
In November 1989, the world watched and embraced the symbolic reunification of East and West Germany with open arms. In the wake of the wall’s fall, millions of tourists and visitors have flocked to the city and paid homage to its collapse at the longest remaining section, the East Side Gallery near the river Spree; an artistic undertaking by freedom-loving muralists, the 100 paintings, murals and pieces of protest graffiti that adorn the traditionally dour eastern side of the wall have become a monument to Germany’s progress and one of the largest open air galleries in the world.
Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles
Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles plays unlikely host to the longest stretch of the Wall outside of Berlin. Moved in 2009 as part of a larger program to mark the 20th anniversary of the wall’s collapse, the ten panels here stretch almost 40 feet along Wilshire, a location specifically chosen by the Wende Museum for its symbolic importance as a main east-west thoroughfare across Los Angeles. The artwork on the wall, for the most part, isn’t original—the Wende Museum commissioned four artists to paint five of the segments in public view. One of the artists, French-born, Berlin-based Thierry Noir, was however one of the first artists to paint the Berlin Wall in the early 1980s.
Up-Park Camp, Kingston, Jamaica
After breaking the world record for the 100-metre dash at the 2009 Athletic World Championships, the Mayor of Berlin gave Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt one hell of an interesting gift: a 2.7-ton, 12-foot-tall slab of the Berlin Wall decked out in a vibrant mural of his record breaking run. Transported to Jamaica by boat in 2009, the journey took three weeks. Today, Bolt’s Cold War memorabilia can be oogled by everyone at the Up-Park Camp in Kingston, the current headquarters of the Jamaican military.
Main Street Station, Las Vegas
In the Main Street Station Casino in Las Vegas, men can do something they would have been severely punished for doing in Berlin pre-1989: pee on the Berlin Wall. In reality, a glass barrier prevents anything from splashing the historic wall, but the men’s room at the Main Street Station Casino can still claim three of its urinals are mounted on a mammoth slab of Cold War history. Boyd Gaming Corporation, who currently owns Main Street, told CNN that the Wall was already in the bathroom when the company bought the property. Female patrons aren’t completely out of luck; according to CNN, they can request that a security guard escort them into the bathroom to look at the Wall.
In the early 1990s, a concrete plant bought sections of the Berlin Wall with the intention of storing them on site and eventually repurposing them as materials. The segments sat on the company’s property in the town of Teltow for years, accumulating, until the company had close to 200 different pieces. Inspired by the East Side Gallery, Teltow officials invited artists to paint the barren concrete slabs, hoping to create a public, open-air art installation similar to the East Side Gallery, 11 miles away in Berlin but public interest fizzled. Elmar Prost later purchased the pieces and started his own private art enterprise. Artists were invited to paint the slabs before Prost sold them to public and private buyers around the world. Of the 164 segments Prost originally bought, 40 remain in the Teltow storage area.