In the 60 s Hamburg officials planned to bulldoze a fishing hamlet to establish cavity for a new container terminal. As port metropolis struggle to keep up with an ever-changing industry, how will Hamburg face the challenges of the next generation?

One morning in the late 80 s, a pick-up truck full of sinister appearing humen came to a halt in front of Heinz Oestmanns house in Altenwerder, a historic fishing hamlet on the outer margins of Hamburgs port. Oestmann, a fisherman and lifelong Altenwerder resident, could make out a slew of crowbars, wooden slats and horticulture implements on the trucks loading arena all the types of objects to break situations with, he subsequently recalled in his memoir.

From their bedroom window, Oestmann and his wife watched as a bespectacled husband from the city council got out of the truck to scrutinize the property. When the fisherman tried to confront the official, he got no response. Eventually, Oestmann took a waver. The husband from members of the council property on his backside, his glass clicked in two.

A month subsequently, a magistrate cleared Oestmann of criminal assault. Three by the human rights council henchmen had confessed that theyd been asked to cut the buildings power supply, crack the water pipe and bang the windows. It was not the first time, the magistrate did, that the city council had resorted to illegitimate measures in order to bully the last continuing inhabitants out of the 13 th-century hamlet. A dangerous logic was driving officials in the city to ever more desperate amounts: Altenwerder had to die so that Hamburg could live.

The container terminal on the locate of Dreikatendeich, a street in Altenwerder. Photograph: Werner Oestmann

Port metropolis are not like normal metropolis. Mercantile activity often fashions a self-consciously cosmopolitan identity that entails numerous port metropolis detect a closer kinship with those in other countries than the next land-locked metropoli down the road. It is no accident, for example, that in the Beatles and Kevin Keegan, Hamburg has co-opted several of Liverpools prodigal sons. The two port metropolis even share a neighbourhood delicacy: Labskaus or lobscouse, a meat-based stew that used to be cooked on visiting ships.

But port metropolis are also susceptible metropolis, whose fortune can fall in a fraction of the time it took to build. The fib of Bruges provides as a cautionary anecdote; from the 12 th until the 15 th century, the Belgian metropoli was one of its most important trading posts in the Hanseatic League, altering anything from Portuguese spices to Scottish fleece. Yet after a tidal intake that leaved the city access to the North Sea started silting, Bruges rapidly fell into diminish as a port.

Hamburg was facing a similar scenario 50 years ago. Over centuries, the city had prospered thanks to its status as a founding member of the Hanseatic League and its orientation at the intersection between the agrarian plateaux of Eastern Europe and the wests thriving groceries. By the centre of the 20 th century, Hamburg was the most populous metropoli in Germany after Berlin; its port, hiring around 14,000 employees, one of the busiest in Europe.

Liverpool fought for years with the declining fortune of its piers. Photograph: Charles Hewitt/ Getty Images

But in the 1960 s the old-fashioned garbs and certainties of the shipping busines were being thrown in the air. Container shipping, one of the many technological advances pioneered during world war ii, was granting carrying companies to move more goods, more quickly. Port metropolis had to be able to accommodate big ships and furnish more cavity for storage.

If they didnt, they were in tribulation or so New York seemed to show. After “the worlds” first container port had opened at nearby Newark, facilities in Brooklyn, Hoboken and Manhattan immediately examined antiquated in comparison. Over the next 10 times, almost half of the workforce in New Yorks conceal lost their jobs. Hamburg too was looking over its shoulder; in 1966, American container carrying giant SeaLand set up a regular busines to its neighbourhood rival port at Bremen.

Hamburg seemed to be at a impediment; after all, it wasnt actually very close to the sea, but 70 sea miles inland, accessible via the river Elbe whose shoals were cumbersome to steer. But compared with other port metropolis in Europe, it had one advantage: since the working day of the Holy Roman Empire, with a short break between 1871 to 1946, Hamburg has been a city position, with powers to pass constitutions tailored to its economy. On 30 October 1961 it made use of those special the authority and extended a port expansion statute. Altenwerder, dwelling to 2,500 villagers, was to make way for a new container terminal.

Some of the local population left instantly an offer of 40 deutschmarks per sq. metres from the council was hard to repel. Most of those who hadnt did so after 1973, when they were informed that they would eventually be disinherited if they didnt leave of their own accord. Deserted residences were subsequently attracted down.

By the late 70 s, exclusively a dozen villagers stood, and at the beginning of this 80 s the hamlet had three dwellers: angler Oestmann, a farmer, and the hamlet “teachers “. Oestmann including with regard to cherished taking the fight to the city, organising an annual rock-and-roll festival in the hamlet that at one point reaped 40,000 demonstrators from the bordering arena, many of them galvanised by Germanys growing Green progress. Lives by the waterside winged large black flags, visible from every go vessel.

Altenwerders old-fashioned fishing port in 1975. Photograph: Werner Oestmann

Yet in 1997, the city felled the chestnut trees under which Oestmann , now the villages last remaining inhabitant, had played as small children. The next morning, the fisherman wrote to the citys business senator, asking for a join. A few weeks later, an expensive automobile pulled up outside Oestmanns house. As the car entrance opened he had been able to discover the senator ordering his move to check on him if he hadnt reverted within the hour.

Oestmann asked for a low-pitched sake lend, a plot of land of his opt, and an assurance that the diggers wouldnt begin until he had moved residence otherwise, he did, he would ram and settle one of the construction boats with his fishing container. The senator reportedly responded: What? And thats it?

Barely five years later, Container Terminal Altenwerder, one of “the worlds” firstly automated container ports, opened its gates on the locate of Oestmanns former home.

Nowadays, the terminal is a familiar sight to anyone approaching Hamburg from countries of the south on the A7, Germanys longest motorway. Twenty two blue cranes line up by the seaside, like giant fowls poising over the water waiting for prey. Behind them lies a parking lot the size of Kensington Gardens, fitted with row after row of brightly coloured containers. Remote-controlled trucks zip between the lines, stacking and shelving.

The old-fashioned fishing hamlet is now Hamburgs container terminal. Photograph: Werner Oestmann

All that remains of the original hamlet is a small graveyard and St Gertrud, a red-bricked 19 th-century Protestant church, whose spire pokings above the wall of containers. Twice a month, former neighbourhoods or their successors still glean here for Sunday service, primarily held in Low-toned German, a accent removed from Old Saxon. On a sunny Sunday in March, clergyman Susanne Lindenlaub-Borck speaks a sermon that is just like it is always trying to dress a weave. Faith, she replies, implies being destroyed and replanted, repeating from Luke 9.62: No one who makes his hand to the plow and seems back is fit for the dominion of God.

Afterwards, a flock of 20 beings glean for coffee and cake in a corner at the back of the church that doubles up as a museum to the hamlet that vanished, including maps, fading photographs and old-fashioned lemonade bottles formerly produced in a factory down the road. The faith is alive, replies Lindenlaub-Borck. We are like a rock-and-roll in turbulent waters.

A surprising number of the villagers seem at peace with what the council did to their hamlet at the time. Psychologically, the city did the right thing, replies one former villager, Werner Oesmann( no relation to the fisherman ). First they got out the homeowners, then the renters, and finally the farmers. Then the resolve started to deteriorate. And the individuals who stayed well, the fight broke them, physically. Of the three mavericks who stood their sand a educator, a farmer and the fisherman two have died.

Altenwerder in 2015. Photograph: Werner Oestmann

Yet most of the flock at St Gertrud are sceptical of where Hamburg is foreman now. Altenwerder port, which prided itself on being Europes most modern container terminal when it opened in 2002, is having trouble keeping up with the rapidity of change in the industry.

Container ships are get big and big. The largest, MSC Oscar, is merely under 400 m long and 60 m wide, with a draught of 16 m. To get into Hamburgs port, such whales have to perform a complex dance, channel-surf down the Elbe on a tidal wave and then shift their ships around within half an hour while the tide is turning. When MSC Oscar inspected Germany for the first time last year it docked at the cities of Wilhelmshaven instead.

Building the Altenwerder terminal behind the Khlbrand Bridge, which is too low for many of the large modern ships, increasingly looks just like a bad bawl. When Hamburg focused on feeling cavity for containers close to the city centre, other port metropolis moved their port further out towards the sea. Rotterdam, for example, used to be an estuary port but is now a deep-sea port.

In the medium term, Hamburg faces a challenge, replies Olaf Merk, a port and shipping expert at the OECD. Even if the city determines a channel to cope with the current calibre of ships, they are able to struggle with the next generation. In February, Hamburg dropped to third place in the position of Europes biggest ports, behind Rotterdam and Antwerp.

Altenwerder before the new container terminal. Photograph: Werner Oestmann

The advantage Hamburg has enjoyed as an independent metropoli position is now looks a lot like a number of problems. For the Dutch, carrying has a same status as the car industry has in Germany, insisted a recent article in Der Spiegel. They hear the development of their ports as a national duty. In Germanys federal arrangement, on the other handwriting, every port is out on its own, with no joint strategy.

Many Hamburgers believe that their metropoli shouldnt be jealous of the Dutch. They say their metropoli shouldnt be scared off by the fate of its soulmate Liverpool, which fought for years with the declining fortune of its piers, but look to New York or London instead metropolis that coped with the loss of their ports just fine. When Germany looks at Hamburg, it underestimates the best interests of the port. Though when Hamburg looks at itself, it overrates it, replies Anjes Tjarks, a Green Party legislator in the city.

Hamburgs biggest fortitude, he replies, is its economic diversity. The metropoli that still prides itself on being the gateway to the world is not just a service hub for companionships like Otto, the worlds biggest mail order fellowship, but too Germanys second biggest industrial metropoli, dwelling to the headquarters for Siemens world gale business. Tourism is on the increases, with a impressive( and spectacularly behind-schedule and over-budget) concert hall, the Elbphilharmonie, opening in January 2017. The old-fashioned piers with their red-brick storage auditoriums ought to have relaunched as a modern new living part, HafenCity.

Last year, Hamburg even flirted with the idea of applying for the 2024 Olympic Game. Program were drawn up for an Olympic village, a stadium and a float hall right in the middle of the old-fashioned conceal, a stones heave from Altenwerder. But at a referendum in November, Hamburg inhabitants rejected the application.

To be honest, I voted against it, admits Werner Oesmann, sitting in the angle of St Gertruds, sipping from a goblet of coffee with a remove of ointment. If the city starts use the conceal again, why did I leave Altenwerder then? In the hamlet that vanished, they have come to terms with beings building channel for containers. But containers now having to make way for beings ten-strikes numerous as a twisting too far. We cant have that. No one from Altenwerder could establish psyche or posterior of that. Olympic Game, fine. But not inside our port.

Does your metropoli have a little-known fib that made a major impact on its development? Please share it in the comments below or on Twitter use #storyofcities


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