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Not far from the Brandenburg Gate, Potsdamer Platz was a no man’s land during the Cold War. Then the Berlin Wall fell, and the German authorities made it a petting zoo for celebrity architecture. The corporate headquarters of Germany’s new global swagger.
But the ambitions for Potsdamer Platz, like the hopes and fears about a united Germany, turned out differently. The architecture was not so great. Many companies fled. Berliners and newcomers alike preferred the dingy, more atmospheric quarters of the old former East. “Poor but sexy” became the city slogan.
“Twenty-five years ago, there was the expectation that a reunified Berlin would become the economic engine of the new Germany, a great metropolis,” recalled Peter Schneider, a novelist and the author of “Berlin Now.” ….