Before World War II, it once was the busiest traffic centers in all of Europe. Most of the buildings were destroyed during the heavy bombardments of Berlin. When the city then became divided, the square was cut in half, and after 1963, the Berlin Wall ran right through it, which caused the area to become totally desolate.
After the downfall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Roger Waters staged a gigantic charity concert of The Wall on July 21, 1990 to commemorate the end of the division between East and West Germany. The concert took place on the then empty Potsdamer Platz and featured many guest superstars.
After 1990, the square became the focus of attention again, since it was an attractive location suddenly near the center of the city. The city government chose to divide the area into four parts, each to be sold to a commercial investor, which then planned new construction.
The second largest part went to Sony, which erected their new European headquarters there. This new Sony Center by Helmut Jahn, an impressive, yet light monolith of glass and steel (the rightmost building in the picture on the right), is considered by many to be one of the finest piece of modern architecture in Berlin.
The whole project was the subject of much criticism from the beginning, but many critics found themselves to be surprised at the later success of the new quarter. Although still not everyone applauds how the district was commercialized and replanned, as a matter of fact, the quarter has largely been accepted both by Berliners and tourists. At almost any time of the day, the place is now packed with people. It has become a must-see for visitors, a top shopping area for Berliners, and probably the No. 1 spot to go for film fans, with more than 40 screens in three cinemas, a film academy and a film museum.
Some scenes of the 1987 Wim Wenders movie Der Himmel über Berlin (English title: Wings of Desire) are located on the old, almost entirely void Potsdamer Platz before the Wall fell. The movie thus gives a good impression of the surroundings at the time, which are completely unlike what can be seen today.