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Leipziger Straße, Berlin

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In the Cold War era, when the Wall divided Berlin into two utterly different worlds, buildings were more than just simple bricks and mortar—they were political symbols. The Axel Springer Tower—headquarters of the powerful Springer media empire—for example, was a provocative gesture to the socialist East. Rising 68 meters above the Wall and visible throughout East Berlin, the building was the equivalent of a V-sign to the Orwellian East, a statue to the freedom of the Western press. Undeterred, the Eastern authorities' answer was to construct a line of 25-storey buildings to hide the offensive Springer Tower. Built along Leipziger Straße, the high-rise estate was considered a "model" socialist living quarter, containing everything a citizen could possibly wish for, from supermarkets to hospitals. The result, however, was a dreary and depressing concrete jungle, whose only saving grace is the beautiful baroque colonnade situated in its center.