A boulevard of splendor, an artists' meeting place and an entertainment mile: Kurfurstendamm is Berlin's most famous street and one of the top addresses for tourists.
Streets rarely become tourist attractions. Fifth Avenue in New York has done it, and the Champs Elysees in Paris are among them. Germany cannot keep up. But if anything, Berlin's Ku'damm is one of the world's boulevards.
From bridle path to strolling boulevard
The three-and-a-half kilometer long "boulevard" in the west of the capital was already Berlin's first strolling and amusement mile in imperial times and especially in the Golden Twenties. Strictly speaking, Kurfurstendamm is much older, but Berliners celebrated its 125th anniversary in the summer of 2011.
The Ku'damm was laid out as early as 1542 – back then it was just a bridle path connecting Berlin's City Palace with the Grunewald hunting lodge. It was not until after the founding of the empire that it was generously extended. The starting signal for the new Ku'damm is considered to be 5. May 1886. On this day the first steam streetcar was in operation.
Shopping without ravers
But the Ku'damm was also popular terrain for demos of the 1968ers: "Leave the cake and cream – Take a red flag!"they chanted in the direction of the irritated ladies and gentlemen who were enjoying their coffee in the many Ku'damm cafes. In 1979, homosexuals demonstrated for their rights here for the first time in Germany on Christopher Street Day; ten years later, the ravers of the first Love Parade paraded here. Of the fact that history was written at many places at the Ku'damm, nothing is to be seen today any more. However, within sight is the famous ruin of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, which was left standing as a memorial after World War II.
Noble boutiques at Olivaer Platz
But Ku'damm is still one of the top addresses among Berlin's shopping miles. Also because there is almost nothing that does not exist here: Jewelers and Jaguar dealers, hardware stores and health food stores, wedding fashions, the "House of 100 Beers" and oriental carpets. The stores between Olivaer Platz and Bleibtreustrabe are somewhat more upscale. This is where people go shopping for whom luxury is not a dirty word. Hardly a label is missing – from Max Mara to Prada, from Burberry to Louis Vuitton, from Chanel to Gucci.
Musical 1920s in Halensee
Especially in the 1920s, Ku'damm was also a stomping ground for artists and literati, stars and starlets from film, radio and revue theater. A little of it has remained: The Schaubuhne can still be found on Ku'damm, the theater, the comedy on Kurfurstendamm and a traditional cinema, which today presents films under the name Astor-Filmlounge.