Weißensee was first mentioned in 1313 as Wittense. The first settlers subsisted on fishing and established themselves on the eastern shore of the lake, where an old trade route connected Berlin with Szczecin (Stettin) and the Baltic Sea - today the Bundesstraße 2 federal highway.
As Berlin's least inhabited district, it has been overshadowed historically by its neighboring boroughs Prenzlauer Berg and Pankow. However its popularity is increasing due to its proximity to the hip but expensive Prenzlauer Berg. Its trams make reaching Mitte very convenient.
Weißensee is appreciated as a good choice for people seeking for a balance between urban life and seclusion in a peaceful district of Berlin. The immediate area around the lake Weißer See is characterized by its historical architecture, numerous places of interest, parks, lakes and activities. The art school Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee is of national rank. The Radrennbahn Weißensee cycling track has also hosted popular music concerts. The largest concert ever held here was a Bruce Springsteen concert on July 19, 1988. Springsteen played before an estimated crowd of 300,000. At Weißensee Cemetery, one of Europe's largest Jewish cemeteries, notable people like the painter Lesser Ury and the publishers Samuel Fischer and Rudolf Mosse are buried.