Berlin Wall display finds home in front of library | March 22, 2013 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - March 22, 2013

Berlin Wall display finds home in front of library

by Daniel DeBolt

After considering several other sites, on Tuesday the City Council settled on putting two donated sections of the Berlin Wall in front of the library on Franklin Street.

The council voted 6-1 in favor of the library location for the two sections donated by the late Frank Golzen, a German immigrant who became a successful real estate developer on the Peninsula. The Los Altos resident had placed the sections on a display in front of his office complex at 2685 Marine Way in Mountain View not long after the wall fell in 1989.

"Thousands of people, especially children, would see this at the library," said council member Jac Siegel. "Of the two locations suggested, I think by far the best place is the library."

The library was the Visual Arts Committee's second choice. The first was Charleston Park, a city park on Amphitheatre Parkway that is often mistaken for a part of Google's adjacent headquarters. Several residents and council members expressed concern about vandalism at that location, and that most residents would have to drive to see the pieces there.

"It would be like taking a monument to 9/11 and sticking it out there in Charleston Park," said resident Roy Mize. "You wouldn't do that." He noted how many people had been shot trying to escape over the wall from East Berlin.

Council member Ronit Bryant, the only opponent of the library location, said, "I cannot support taking out a bench in front of the library — where I always see people sitting — to put pieces of the wall there."

The cement wall sections — which measure 4 feet by 8 feet — would replace a bench near the bike rack in front of the library. City Manager Dan Rich said the bench would be placed somewhere else in front of the library.

The Council had also asked that the city's downtown train station be considered, but it was found that there was already several art pieces in Centennial Plaza and there was no place to put the pieces where they wouldn't be an obstacle to transit users.

The Council budgeted $50,000 for the installation of the pieces, which may include plexiglass covers to prevent vandalism.

Golzen's plaque may be installed as well, said economic development manager Ellis Berns. While credit for the fall of the Berlin Wall is divided among Germans and the USSR's former president, Mikhail Gorbachev, among others, Golzen's plaque credits only the United States.

''The world must not forget that it was America's resolve and its political and economic ideas that made this bloodless revolution and most significant historical event possible," the plaque says.

Email Daniel DeBolt at


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