Hiding amidst the chaos of a building site is the Tränenpalast (palace of tears)...
This building was departures hall for the border control point Friedrichstraße station. Here, visitors returning to the west (though of course the checkpoint was open to citizens of the GDR too, if they had the correct permission to leave) by train would have to say goodbye to their eastern friends and families before entering the entering the series of customs, ID and visa controls, hence its association with tears.
The building was completed in 1962, designed by Horst Lüderitz. I find its combination of curves and angles, with its wide expanses of glass, quite stylish and quite in contrast to the rather grim function it was built for. It was used for cultural events between 1991 and 2006, then closed when work began on the Spreedreieck (Spree triangle) development which now stands next to it. The Spreedreieck is big and brown. I think I preferred it as a building site really, it was nice to have the space to admire Friedrichstraße station, the Tränenpalast and the quirkily ornate Admiralspalast over the road.
There was something else I wanted to feature here. On the corner of the building site stood Check Point Curry, my favourite Imbiß in Berlin. Konnopke's may have the heritage and the fame, but Check Point Curry had personality (as well as a slightly questionable name). Run from a portakabin up a set of stairs, facing the Spree, it served currywurst with a special 'Scharfer Soße' (hot sauce) with pieces of jalapeño pepper in it, which was really quite something. It also seemed to be frequented by some of Berlin's more unique characters, perhaps thanks to the fact it stayed open late at night; a visit there was always entertaining.
It's gone though. I hope it might just have moved (as it did a few years ago, when the building work started - it used to face onto Friedrichstraße), but there seems to be no sign of it anywhere nearby. Another casualty of progress, perhaps...progress this time being in the shape of a big brown heap of...office building.