Berlin was founded in the early thirteenth century as the capital of Brandenburg. From 1701 it served as the capital of Prussia. As a result of its position on the main transportation route in the centre of Prussia, the city grew to be an industrial and commercial hub during the eighteenth century. Between 1830 and 1860 the population of Berlin doubled as a result of migration from the rural provinces. Berlin reached its apex of growth in 1939 just prior to the Second World War.
After the Second World War, the city was partitioned into East and West Berlin. In 1961 a wall was built to prevent movement between the two Germany republics. In 1989, that wall was demolished when the two German States reunited and Berlin was reinstated as its capital city.
Partition greatly affected the demographics of the city. The population of post-partition East Berlin initially decreased and than stabilized, whereas West Berlin experienced a steady decline in population that continued until reunification. A new unified Berlin is expected to achieve a slow and steady rate of growth into the next century.
East Berlin was the financial, commercial and industrial centre of the German Democratic Republic and an important transit hub for the East-West trade. Its economy was based on a mixture of heavy and light industry including electrical engineering and electronics, metals, automobile production, textiles, printing, publishing and beverages.
Though medical and educational facilities were well funded in both East and West Berlin, housing remained a problem for both. Inadequate housing retarded the population growth of East Berlin, and West Berlin suffered from the destruction of one third of its housing to during the Second World War.
After reunification the city faced vast problems of restructuring. The question was how to unify two autonomous cities with different infrastructures. A new zoning plan was proposed as the solution. The plan focuses on: housing, transportation linkages, preservation of green space, mixture of land uses, and a new focus on transitional areas lacking infrastructure on the edge of the inner city and on the outer city border. This new plan seeks to integrate infrastructure and strengthen the economy in an ecologically-oriented urban strategy.