Checkpoint Charlie (or "Checkpoint C") was the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War. The Soviet Union prompted the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 to stop Eastern Bloc emigration westward through the Soviet border system, preventing escape across the city sector border from East Berlin to West Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie became a symbol of the Cold War, representing the separation of east and west. Soviet and American tanks briefly faced each other at the location during the Berlin Crisis of 1961. After the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc and the reunification of Germany, the building at Checkpoint Charlie became a tourist attraction.
Although the wall was opened in November 1989 and the checkpoint booth removed on June 22, 1990, the checkpoint remained an official crossing for foreigners and diplomats until German reunification during October 1990 when the guard house was removed; it is now on display in the open-air museum of the Allied Museum in Berlin- Zehlendorf. The course of the former wall and border is now marked in the street with a line of cobblestones. A copy of the guard house and sign that once marked the border crossing was later built where Checkpoint Charlie once was. It resembles the first guard house erected during 1961, behind a sandbag barrier towards the border. Over the years it was replaced several times by guard houses of different sizes and layouts. The one removed during 1990 was considerably larger than the first one and did not have sandbags.
Near the location of the guard house is the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, a private museum opened in 1963 by Rainer Hildebrandt, which was augmented with a new building during the 1990s. The two Soldiers (one American and one Russian) represented at the Checkpoint Memorial were both stationed in Berlin during the early 1990s.
Developers demolished the East German checkpoint watchtower in 2000. The watchtower, which was the last surviving original Checkpoint Charlie structure, was demolished to make way for offices and shops. The city tried to save the tower but failed, as it was not classified as a historic landmark. As of August 2011, nothing has been built at this site and the original proposals for development have been terminated.
Checkpoint Charlie has become one of Berlin's primary tourist attractions. An open-air exhibit was opened during the summer of 2006. Gallery walls along the Friedrichstraße and the Zimmerstraße inform on escape attempts, how the checkpoint was expanded, and its significance during the Cold War, in particular the confrontation of Soviet and American tanks in 1961. An overview of other important memorial sites and museums on the division of Germany and the wall is presented as well. Tourists can have their photographs taken for a fee with actors dressed as allied military policemen standing in front of the guard house. Several souvenir stands with fake military items and stores proliferate as well. East German guards checking permits of bus passengers going through the checkpoint in October, just after the Wall was built on 13 August 1961. Bus going through the East Berlin checkpoint. Czech hedgehogs just inside East Berlin. Checks by East German guards. US president John F Kennedy at Checkpoint Charlie in 1963. The Western (foreground) and Eastern (background) checkpoints, with the latter's famous watchtower, which was demolished in 2000. Pedestrians crossing the Eastern checkpoint, with the new checkpoint structure being constructed behind in 1984. The Eastern checkpoint in 1988. People cheering East Berliners driving through Checkpoint Charlie after the fall of the Wall East Berliners going west. West German children applaud as East German visitors drive through Checkpoint Charlie and take advantage of relaxed travel restrictions to visit the West. Celebrating the Fall of the Wall. Removal of the famous checkpoint booth on 22 June 1990. The eastern checkpoint being dismantled in November 1990. Checkpoint Charlie in January 1991. Getting the souvenir pictures in January 1990 before everything disappears. Remnants of the Wall at Checkpoint Charlie in July 1990. Part of the original first building - now in AlliiertenMuseum in Berlin-Dahlem. The Checkpoint Charlie building at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall now rests at the AlliiertenMuseum. "MP" actors for photograph hire Checkpoint Charlie's location in 2011