“I am so homesick for the Kurfürstendamm / Berlin tempo, excitement and fuss!”, sang Hildegard Knef in 1963.
But not only the chanson singer felt fascinated by the strolling promenade since it had been developed more than 125 years ago.
The Ku’damm, as it is affectionately called by the Berliners, was built as a riding trail in the 16th century, but its glorious history began when it was developed into a boulevard in 1886. Today, the boulevard is the centre of the district Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, established in 2001 – and with its colourful blend of shopping mile, cinemas, theatres, restaurants and cafés it is at the same time the pulsating central point of City-West.
The district has something of everything – and plenty of it. There are great cultural sites such as the Theater des Westens, the world-famous Deutsche Oper, the Open-Air-Arena Waldbühne and numerous museums. The Olympiastadion draws people with major events. Messe Berlin and the International Congress Centre are well known beyond the borders of Germany. Students from all over the world attend the Technical University and the University of Arts. More than 25,000 enterprises and as many businesses generate jobs. And almost 44,000 roadside trees make sure that the air is kept clean and that the city is not only grey.
But this is something nobody in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf needs to worry about anyway. Because apart from the excitement on Ku’damm, it is the quiet tones that characterize life in the district. Forests and bodies of water are the dominant features in Grunewald, for instance: only three percent of the approximately 300,000 residents live there. Lietzenseepark, Volkspark Wilmersdorf, Volkspark Jungfernheide and other parks also invite people to come and relax, go jogging or take walks. The quality of living in the district is generally excellent: shopping facilities, restaurants, cafés and bars are usually close by, travel connections are good and there are plenty of kindergartens, schools, libraries and other public institutions.
The good infrastructure causes residential space to be in high demand and expensive: especially well-to-do middle-class people are drawn to Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf. Many academics live in Schmargendorf, Ruhleben, Eichkamp or in the Rheingauer Viertel for instance. Stately villas where Berlin celebrities reside next door to lawyers and doctors can be found in Grunewald und Westend as well as along Heerstraße and on the shores of the Lietzensee. Renovated old buildings exude genuine Gründerzeit flair close to the city, around Charlottenburg Castle or around Olivaer Platz and Ludwigkirchplatz in Wilmersdorf. But the large district is not only reserved for the rich and the beautiful, less well-heeled people also find a place to live – in the direct neighbourhood of the Volkspark or in the eastern part of Charlottenburg, for instance.
Young or old, big or small, famous or educated, poor or rich – the cosmopolitan, often lively, but then again comfortable character of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf lets not only its local residents believe that they live in the most beautiful part of Berlin. The unforgettable Hildegard Knef, who has in the course of her life lived in several places of the district from Grunewald to Charlottenburg to Wilmersdorf, also knew this. Because here “you are right in the very heart of Berlin”.