The Kurfürstendamm (colloquially Ku’damm) is one of the most famous avenues in Berlin. The street takes its name from the former Kurfürsten (prince-electors) of Brandenburg. The broad, long boulevard can be considered the Champs-Élysées of Berlin and is lined with shops, houses, hotels and restaurants. In particular, many fashion designers have their shops there, as well as several car manufacturers’ show rooms. The avenue includes four lines of plane trees and runs for 3.5 km (2.2 mi) through the city. It branches off from the Breitscheidplatz, where the ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church stand, and leads southwestward up to the district of Grunewald. Although the exact date of the building is unknown, an unnamed causeway leading from the Stadtschloss through the swampy area between the settlements of Charlottenburg (then called Lietzow) and Wilmersdorf to Grunewald is already depicted in a 1685 map. The name Churfürsten Damm was first mentioned between 1767 and 1787. From 1875 the former bridlepath was embellished as a boulevard with a breadth of 53 m (174 ft) on the personal initiative of chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who also proposed the building of the Grunewald mansions colony at its western end. In 1913 the new Marmorhaus cinema opened. A number of major film premieres were held here during the silent era. Especially during the “Golden Twenties” the Kurfürstendamm area of the “New West” was a centre of leisure and nightlife in Berlin, an era that ended with the Great Depression and the Nazi Machtergreifung in 1933. The shops and businesses owned by Jewish tradespeople became the target of several pogroms, culminating in the “Reichskristallnacht” of 9 November 1938.
After German reunification the Kurfürstendamm had to compete with central places like Potsdamer Platz, Friedrichstraße, and Alexanderplatz, which led to the closing of numerous cafés and cinemas. It retained the character of a flâneur and upscale shopping street as the western continuation of the Tauentzienstraße with its large department stores.