On the Saturday before Memorial Day last year, Ray Stanjevich decided to attend an auction of an unusual collectible: an 8,000-pound section of the Berlin Wall.
He did not plan to bid on the concrete slab at the sale outside Atlanta last year. Where would he put it? What would he do with it? But he agreed to sign up for an auction paddle. And once bidding began, he joined in. When it was over, he’d bought a large piece of history for $23,500. “I was just gonna watch,” he says. “Sometimes you get overexcited.”
Americans have been excited about the Berlin Wall for a long time. When erected in 1961 to divide democratic West Berlin from communist East, it stood for oppression. After it was brought down in 1989 — 25 years ago this week, amid the crumbling of the Soviet bloc — the wall’s meaning reversed. In pieces, it came to represent freedom.
Today, large sections of the 96-mile-long Berlin Wall are on display in scores of places across the USA. They are in seven presidential libraries, a Chicago Transit Authority station and a Las Vegas casino men’s room. They’re at CIA headquarters, the U.N., and the Hard Rock Cafe Orlando. A slab stands in the shadow of One World Trade Center.
Here are photos of some of the interesting places that hold a part of the symbol of freedom.
Source: Rick Hampson, Berlin Wall endures as a symbol of freedom in the USA, USA WEEKEND, October 30, 2014, http://www.usatoday.com/experience/weekend/lifestyle/berlin-wall-endures-as-a-symbol-of-freedom-in-the-usa/17997741/.
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., has a piece of the wall on display. Reagan famously called on Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” in a 1987 speech in Berlin. FREDERIC J. BROWN, AFP/Getty Images
Three sections of the wall can be seen on tours of CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. Justinian Jampol, founder of the Wende Museum, says that when the pieces arrived at the CIA, they were blank on both sides; one side was painted with graffiti to show the East-West disparity. Public Domain Image
The Wende Museum in Los Angeles imported 10 segments of the Berlin Wall in 2009, to mark the 20th anniversary of its fall. The museum installed the pieces on Wilshire Boulevard and invited local artists to paint on some of them. The idea: replicate the wall’s function as a site for political and personal expression. It’s the longest contiguous stretch of the wall in the USA. MARK RALSTON, AFP/Getty Images
Edwina Sandys, granddaughter of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, used two pieces of the Berlin Wall to create an outdoor sculpture titled BreakFree.On display at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, N.Y., the sculpture shows two figures breaking free of coils of barbed wire. Edwina Sandys, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
Back side of the BreakFree sculpture by Edwina Sandys at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, N.Y. Sandys is the granddaughter of Winston Churchill. Edwina Sandys, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
Ronald Reagan Peace Garden, Eureka (Ill.) College: A section of the Berlin Wall sits in the Ronald Regan Peace Garden at Eureka (Ill.) College. Reagan graduated from the college in 1932.The college received the 5-by-4-foot section of the wall as a gift from Germany in 2000, when the college dedicated the peace garden. Eureka College
A piece of the Berlin Wall at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. Construction of the Berlin Wall started in 1961, when Kennedy was president. Kennedy Library Foundation
Breakthrough, a sculpture created from eight sections of the Berlin Wall by artist Edwina Sandys, is displayed at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. Sandys is a granddaughter of Winston Churchill, who delivered his anti-communist “Iron Curtain” speech here in 1946. Whitney Curtis for USA TODAY
Hilton Anatole Hotel, Dallas: Two segments of the Berlin Wall, painted by German artist Jurgen Grosse, were given to the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas in 1990. HILTON ANATOLE
The city of Berlin donated a segment as a “commemorative relic’’ for display at the Chicago Transit Authority’s Western Station, in the traditionally German Lincoln Square neighborhood. Chicago Transit Authority
An exhibit at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., contains the largest display of unaltered portions of the Berlin Wall outside of Germany. The exhibit also features an East German guard tower. Sam Kittner, Newseum
The Microsoft Art Collection at the company’s campus in Redmond, Wash., contains a section of the wall donated by German automaker Daimler-Benz. Rob Wolf, Microsoft
Pieces of the Berlin Wall are on display at multiple locations of Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Seen here is a piece in the New York location. Ripley Entertainment
A 3-ton piece of the Berlin Wall, purchased in 1996 for $17,500, is now in a men’s room at Main Street Station Casino in Las Vegas. Protected by glass, it anchors a row of urinals. Women who want to see the wall can ask a security guard for an escort when the coast is clear. Boyd Gaming