A chunk of the Berlin Wall on 53rd Street

Tucked away in a tiny pedestrian plaza between Fifth and Madison Avenues is an authentic piece of history, complete with colorful Eastern Block graffiti.

It’s a 20-foot-high slab of Berlin Wall. So what’s it doing in the middle of corporate New York?

It was sold by the former East German government to Jerry Speyer of Tishman Speyer, the real estate giant that owns the plaza. Speyer installed it here in 1990, a year after the wall’s demise.

It’s not the only section to make it to New York; three more dot the city.

“One can be found at the entrance to the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, and another between Gateway Plaza, the North Cove Marina, and the World Financial Center,” NYCityMap Blog tells us. A third segment rests in the gardens at UN Headquarters.

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20 Responses to “A chunk of the Berlin Wall on 53rd Street”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    Plus I have a few pieces, held in a small decanter that has been on my shelf since Nov 1989. At the time I treated myself to a European trip, after completing my novel “Holy Communion,” intending to travel in the Scandinavian countries but continuous news out of Berlin showed something was happening there. I turned around in Copenhagen and headed East to the Berlin Wall. The train crosses East and makes a stop at Berlin Alexanderplatz, which that night was flocked with East Berliners attempted to go west. Just a few Americans remained on the train as it made its solitary trek to freedom. I felt bad, I was Ukrainian and my own country was in a state of oppression. Anyway I stayed in West Berlin for almost two weeks as happy crowds nightly filled the streets. At that European trip I played my little part in History, as meaningless as it may sound, I was there.

  2. Parnassus Says:

    These large sections of the wall make you reflect on the intense history which has come and gone, but is still well within living memory.

    On another note, thousands of chunks of the wall, minuscule to monumental, were saved as souvenirs and now are available on Ebay or at house sales. I sometimes think that if you assembled them back together you would up something more resembling with the Great Wall of China.

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    I guess you could try to pass any piece of concrete off as an authentic wall souvenir. I don’t know if I’d trust eBay.

  4. Dorian Says:

    It’s highly unlikely that that’s “Eastern Bloc” graffiti, since the populace on the Eastern side tended to get shot long before reaching the wall.

    The Western side, on the other hand, was well covered with graffiti done both by the locals and the tourists (I added a little scribble myself, about six months before the wall came down).

  5. visualingual Says:

    These chunks, of various sizes, are all over. There is one in my adopted home of Cincinnati.

  6. bakurabw Says:

    It looks like Untapped NY just wrote an article on it this week as well

    http://newyork.untappedcities.com/2011/09/06/paley-park-a-hidden-oasis-in-midtown/

  7. wildnewyork Says:

    A strange coincidence. I saw the piece of wall for the first time after leaving MOMA on Labor Day.

  8. mattucee Says:

    If you see the Wim Wenders film “Wings of Desire” you will see this the graffitti on this chunk of the wall being created. It wasn’t set up by the film maker, he just caught the act of graffitiing the wall in the background!

  9. Rosemary O'Brien Says:

    Can you contact me? I am writing a post about this park and this piece of wall. I’d like to link back to your post. I’m going to take the chance that it would be fine with you and do it anyway, but would appreciate your contacting me asap.

    Thanks,
    Ro

  10. wildnewyork Says:

    It’s totally fine–please send the link on!

  11. Rosemary O'Brien Says:

    http://pocketparksnyc.blogspot.com/2012/01/piece-of-berlin-wall-on-53rd-st.html

    Thanks! Your picture was great. I gave you credit. Please let me know if it’s a problem to use it. I like it better than the few I took of the wall.

  12. wildnewyork Says:

    You’re very welcome. I like your blog; I’ll put it on my blogroll.

  13. Quelle surprise! The sidewalks of New York | Expect the Unexpected Says:

    […] I did another google search. Turns out this portion of the Berlin Wall was sold by the former East German government to Jerry […]

  14. A piece of the Berlin Wall hidden downtown | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] A bigger section of wall can be found at lovely pocket park Paley Park on East 53rd Street (left). […]

  15. Documentary prep: some thoughts on garbage | rebecca [at] ITP Says:

    […] Berlin Wall remnants in midtown https://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2011/09/08/a-chunk-of-the-berlin-wall-on-53rd-street/ […]

  16. Letícia Carvalho Says:

    It’s a wonderful place and piece of art! I would like to know about the plaza, how was it before the wall installation? Did the pocket start because of it? Or did it exist before the wall? I’m doing a paper about the pocket parks and would like to know its history since the begin.
    Thanks!

  17. Matthew Cummings Says:

    Last time I passed that park the wall segment was missing. I don’t know if it was removed temporarily or permanently. Perhaps it’s been restored since I was there last.

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