The Rathaus Schöneberg was built between 1911 and 1914 and was originally used as Schöneberg's city hall. At that time Schöneberg was not part of Berlin City and Berlin's town hall was located at Rote Rathaus.
At the beginning of the Cold War in the 1950s, the city of Berlin was divided in two, with the Soviet Union controlling the East. The Rote Rathaus was no longer accessible to the West Berliners and, as a result, the Rathaus Schöneberg became West Berlin's new town hall.
The building was designed along simple lines, with a sandstone base and biscuit colored, plastered exterior walls. Its most striking feature is the central, 230 meter clock tower.
Housed in this tower is a bell donated by the American people which was given to commemorate the end of the Soviet blockade in 1949. It is a replica of the 'Liberty Bell' from Philadelphia and is a symbol of the American people's solidarity with West Berliner's struggle with communism.
Over 26 million Americans signed a document of support and these signatures are stored in the tower. Every day the bell is rung at midday.
The Rathaus Schöneberg continued to be used by Berlin's city government until the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. The end of the Cold War saw the reunification of East and West Berlin and the Rathaus Schöneberg reverted to its former role as the city hall of Schöneberg.
It has had an interesting political past. It was here in 1963 that the United States President, John F Kennedy, made an enlightening and historical speech, where he pledged American support for West Berliners struggle with communism.
Shortly after this speech, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, and, as a mark of respect, the name of the square surrounding the Rathaus Schöneberg was changed to John F Kennedy Platz.
Visitors can climb the tower and take in the panoramic views of Berlin. There is also an exhibition dedicated to William Brandt who was not only the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of West Germany but also a past mayor of West Berlin.
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