What Hamburg, Germany, looked like in the 1910s

Hamburg, a vibrant port city in northern Germany, has a long and storied history. However, the 1910s proved to be a particularly tumultuous decade for the city, marked by significant events such as World War I, shifts in trade and commerce, and the evolution of its cultural landscape.

The Great War’s Impact

The outbreak of World War I in 1914 profoundly affected Hamburg, as the city’s strategic location on the Elbe River making it a key site for military and economic activity. Hamburg’s port played a crucial role in the war effort, serving as a naval and merchant ships base. The war also disrupted trade and industry, significantly causing the city’s once-thriving economy to decline.

During the conflict, Hamburg’s shipyards and factories were converted to produce military equipment and supplies, while the city’s civilian population faced food shortages and harsh living conditions. The war also brought an influx of refugees and wounded soldiers, putting additional strain on Hamburg’s infrastructure and resources.

Trade and Commerce: Adapting to a New Reality

Despite the challenges brought by World War I, Hamburg managed to adapt and evolve its trade and commerce during the 1910s. Before the war, the city had been a central hub for international business, with its port facilitating the movement of goods between Europe and the rest of the world. The war disrupted many trade routes, forcing Hamburg to find new ways to maintain its economic viability.

One of the city’s most significant post-war developments was the establishment of the Hamburg-Amerika Linie. This shipping company helped re-establish Hamburg as a critical player in global trade. The company’s fleet of ocean liners not only transported goods but also served as a symbol of German engineering prowess and the nation’s ability to rebuild after the war.

The Dawning of a New Cultural Era

The 1910s also marked a period of significant cultural change in Hamburg as the city’s artists, writers, and thinkers sought to make sense of the war and its aftermath. The city became a hotbed for new ideas and creative expression, with many influential figures, such as the writer and critic Alfred Kerr and the painter Max Liebermann calling Hamburg home.

During this time, Hamburg saw the rise of the expressionist movement, which sought to capture the emotional intensity of the era through vivid colors, bold shapes, and distorted forms. The city’s theaters and galleries showcased the works of avant-garde artists and performers. At the same time, its literary scene gave voice to the anxieties and aspirations of a generation grappling with the trauma of war and the uncertainty of the future.

In the music world, Hamburg’s composers and musicians explored new styles and forms, with Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss leaving their mark on the city’s burgeoning music scene. The Hamburg State Opera and the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra became critical cultural institutions, allowing citizens to engage with diverse performances.

Here are some fascinating historic photos of Hamburg in the 1910s.

#7 Fleet behind the Düsternstraße (at the Pferdeborn), Hamburg

#10 Department store “Karstadt” at Moenckebergstrasse in Hamburg, Germany, around 1912

#11 The New Central Synagogue at Bornplatz in Hamburg, Germany, 1910

#12 A view of the Free Harbour in Hamburg, Germany showing the Sandtor Quay, 1910

#22 The birthplace of the composer Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), Hamburg

#25 Cranes at Hamburg , Germany to be handed over to Allies ( Compensation for Scapa ) 20 December 1919

#28 Athlete Jose Marino on the market square in Hamburg, Germany, 1913

#29 Albert Ballin, General Director of the Hamburg-Amerika-Linie, with Max Warburg, Felix Cassel, Ballin, and Ernest Cassel, 1913

#30 Maiden voyage of the “Imperator”, the largest ship in the world, leaving from the harbor in Hamburg, Germany, 1913

#31 George Jay Gould I, manager, financier, and railroad executive from the USA, arriving in Hamburg, Germany with his family, 1912

#32 Preparation of the turbine that drove the Hamburg-American Line’s Vaterland, the largest passenger ship of its day, 1912

#33 Wilhelm II., German Emperor and King of Prussia, at the entry to the Hamburg Elbe tunnel, 1911

#34 Arrival of Empress Auguste Viktoria of Germany and Queen of Prussia with her princesses in Hamburg-Altona, 1911

#35 Wilhelm II., German Kaiser, with Carl Hagenbeck at the Tierpark in Stellingen/Hamburg, 1911

#36 Denkmal von Hugo Lederer am Millerntor in Hamburg of Otto von Bismarck, 1910

#37 Max Brauer, politician and First Mayor of Hamburg, at the signing of the German-Chilean trade agreement in the Hamburg Rathaus, 1951

#38 Procession at Segenberg with children, horses, and carriage in Hamburg, Germany, 1910

#39 Festival procession with children as sailors in a ship in Hamburg, Germany, 1910

#40 The dining room of the Verlagsgesellschaft deutscher Konsumvereine in Hamburg, Germany, with men and women sitting separately, date unknown

#41 Funerary monument of writer Detlev von Liliencorn in Hamburg-Altrahlstedt, Germany, 1910

#44 View of the Lombardsbrucke crossing the Elbe in Hamburg, Germany, 1910

#45 The Rathaus (city hall) in Hamburg, Germany, 1910

#46 View of the Jungfernstieg promenade on the River Alster in Hamburg, Germany, with the Alster Pavillon in the background, 1910

#47 St Pauli ferry terminal and elevated railway in Hamburg, Germany, 1910

#48 The church of St Nikolai in Hamburg, Germany, 1910

#49 Houses on a canal near the Steckelhorn in Hamburg, Germany, 1910

#50 An Indian elephant hauling a heavy load in the dockland area of Hamburg, Germany, 1910

#51 Kerb-brokers pictured outside the Bourse in Hamburg, Germany, 1910

#52 Sailing vessels in the port of Hamburg, Germany, 1910

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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  1. very cool pictures! I wonder whether Steinstrasse is represented so often because it is particularly typical or because it is the least typical. After all, it’s supposed to be Hamburg’s oldest street and perhaps the buildings there are correspondingly outdated?