The origins of the street lie in the north of Berlin's historic center. There were three alleys that went from the New Marketplace and St. Mary's Church at the northern end of the town down to the river Spree. They had had different names over the centuries and were ultimately known as Papenstraße (“bishops street”, named for a branch of the Bishopric of Havelberg), Brauhausstraße (“brewpub street”) and Kleine Burgstraße (“castle street”, named for the Stadtschloss on the other side of the river). Since the 16th century, a wooden bridge, known as Sechserbrücke (“sixpence bridge”), would lead across the water to Spree Island near the eastern terminus of Unter den Linden.
In the 1880s, it was decided to replace the pedestrians bridge with a much larger stone bridge and to combine the three alleys to a street that would effectively be an extension to the Unter den Linden boulevard. This new street became known as Kaiser-Wilhelm-Straße, named after the late German Emperor William I in 1888. It led from Spree Island across the new Kaiser-Wilhelm-Brücke through Old Berlin, turning slightly north at St. Mary's Church and ending at Münzstraße in the Scheunenviertel (“barns quarter”). In 1892 the street was extended to Hirtenstraße near modern Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz.
Most of the buildings on Kaiser-Wilhelm-Straße were largely damaged and several lost completely in the British and American air raids on the city between 1943 and 1945 (see: Battle of Berlin (air)). In April 1945, German troops blew up the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Brücke in an attempt to hold back the Soviet advance in the Battle of Berlin.
After the war, the street became part of the Soviet sector of Berlin. It was renamed Liebknechtstraße in 1947 for Karl Liebknecht (1871–1919), co-founder of the Communist Party of Germany. The bridge to Spree Island was rebuilt in 1950 and equally named Liebknechtbrücke.
However, the lost buildings were only replaced in the 1960s when Mitte was rebuilt to fit the East German government's visions of a modern socialist city. The new Karl-Liebknecht-Straße started on Spree Island at the Marx-Engels-Platz, between the Berlin Cathedral and the Palace of the Republic. On the other side of Liebknechtbrücke, large Plattenbau apartment blocks were built. The right side of the street became a large open green at the foot of the Fernsehturm (TV tower). Instead of turning north at St. Mary's Church, the new Karl-Liebknecht-Straße now goes straight ahead to meet the arterial road Prenzlauer Allee at the former place of the city gate Prenzlauer Tor. The rest of the street, north of the church, is now known as Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße - named after Rosa Luxemburg, another co-founder of the Communist Party.
Unlike its surroundings, Karl-Liebknecht-Straße has not changed its look too much since the German reunification in 1990. However, plans for the reconstruction of the neighborhood north of Alexanderplatz are already made. Although the slow growth of the German economy in the last years prohibited the more daring parts of the project, these plans are officially still on the table.
|16th c.||Spreegäßlein||Zimmermannsgasse||Am Kramhause
Hinter der Badstube
|17th c.||Wasserstraße||Bolingsgasse||Papenstraße||Heinersdorfer Straße|
|18th c.||Kleine Burgstraße||Klandersgasse||Papenstraße||Prenzlauer Straße|
|19th c.||Kleine Burgstraße||Brauhausstraße||Papenstraße||Prenzlauer Straße|
|July 31, 1947||Liebknechtstraße||Prenzlauer Straße|
|September 3, 1969||Karl-Liebknecht-Straße
Read more about this topic: Karl-Liebknecht-Straße
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