The Speicherstadt (lit. city of warehouses, meaning warehouse district) in Hamburg, Germany is the largest warehouse district in the world where the buildings stand on timber-pile foundations, oak logs, in this particular case. It is located in the port of Hamburg—within the HafenCity quarter—and was built from 1883 to 1927.
The district was built as a free zone to transfer goods without paying customs. As of 2009 the district and the surrounding area is under redevelopment.
The Speicherstadt is located in the port of Hamburg and 1.5 km (0.93 mi) long and pervaded by loading canals (German [in Hamburg]: Fleet).
Since 1815, the independent and sovereign city of Hamburg was a member of the German Confederation—the association of Central European states created by the Congress of Vienna—but not member of the German Customs Union. With the establishment of the German Empire in 1871, Hamburg could not be a customs free zone and part of the German Empire. Due to treaties of 1888 Hamburg was part of the German customs zone and a free port was established.
In 1883 the demolition of the Kehrwieder area began and more than 20,000 people needed to be relocated. From 1885 to 1888 the first part was built and managed by the Freihafen-Lagerhaus-Gesellschaft (the predecessor of the Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG). Since 1991 it is listed a heritage site in Hamburg, and since 2008, part of the HafenCity quarter. In an attempt to revitalize the inner city area, the Hamburg government initiated the development of the HafenCity area, for example with the construction of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall.
The warehouses were built with different support structures, but Andreas Meyer created a Neo-Gothic red-brick outer layer with little towers, alcoves, and glazed terra cotta ornaments. The warehouses are multi-storey buildings with entrances from water and land. One of the oldest warehouses is the Kaispeicher B of the International Maritime Museum.
The Speicherstadt is a tourist attraction in Hamburg. There are several museums like the Deutsches Zollmuseum (German Customs Museum), Miniatur Wunderland (a model railway), the Hamburg Dungeon, and the Afghan Museum.
The buildings are also used as warehouses. As of 2005, the companies in the Speicherstadt handled one-third of the world's carpet production, and other goods as cocoa, coffee, tea, spices, maritime equipment, and electronic goods.
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- M Batz (2002). "Urbane Light Germany Speicherstadt, Hamburg, the largest historical warehouse complex in the world, has become a softly-glowing night-time panorama". International Lighting Review, (12,): 14–19. OCLC 193350885.
- Lawrenz, Dierk; von Borstel, Christiane (2008). Die Hamburger Speicherstadt (in German). Freiburg, Br: EK-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-88255-893-7.
- Meyn, Boris (2003). Die rote Stadt: ein historischer Kriminalroman (in German). Reinbek: Rowohlt. ISBN 978-3-499-23407-1. A historical detective story.
- Lange, Ralf; Hampel, Thomas (2004). Speicherstadt und HafenCity: zwischen Tradition und Vision (in German). Hamburg: Elbe-und-Flut-Ed., Hampel und Hettchen. ISBN 978-3-7672-1440-8.
Media related to Speicherstadt at Wikimedia Commons