The Speicherstadt (German pronunciation: [ˈʃpaɪ̯çɐˌʃtat], literally: '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. The district and the surrounding area have been under redevelopment for many years as the port industry has evolved. As an exceptional example of Neo-Gothic and modernist architecture, and for its testimony to the development of international maritime trade, the Speicherstadt was awarded the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site on 5 July 2015, along with the Kontorhaus District.

From 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 a member of the German Customs Union.

Following the Austro-Prussian War which established Prussian hegemony in North Germany, Hamburg was obliged to join the North German Federation.[1] However it obtained an opt-out in the form of Article 34 of the North German constitution,[2] which stated that Hamburg and the other Hanseatic cities would remain as free ports outside the Community customs border until they apply for inclusion. Article 34 was carried over into the imperial constitution of 1871, when the south German states joined the federation. However, Hamburg came under great pressure from Berlin to join the Customs Union after 1879, when the latter's external tariff was greatly increased. In 1881 an agreement was signed between the Prussian Finance Minister Karl Hermann Bitter and the State Secretary of the imperial Treasury, on the one hand, Hamburg's Plenipotentiary Senators Versmann and O'Swald, and the envoy of the Hanseatic states in Berlin, Dr Krüger, on the other. Hamburg would join the Customs Union with all its territory, except a permanent free port district which the agreement specified. For this district, Article 34 would still apply, thus the freedoms of that district could not be abolished or restricted without Hamburg's approval.[3][4]

In 1883, to clear space for the new port area, the demolition of the Kehrwieder and Wandrahm area began and more than 20,000 people needed to be relocated. The construction was completed before the start of World War I, managed by the Freihafen-Lagerhaus-Gesellschaft (the predecessor of the Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG), which was also responsible for the subsequent operation.

After the destruction of about half of the buildings in Operation Gomorrah by bombing during World War II, the conservative rebuilding was finished in 1967, while the Hanseatic Trade Center now occupies the sites of the completely destroyed structures.[5] In 1991 it was listed as a protected Hamburg heritage site.[6] Since 2008, it has been part of the HafenCity quarter.[7] 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.[8]

^ Planung und Finanzierung der Speicherstadt in Hamburg ,by Frank M. Hinz; publ. LIT Verlag Münster, 2000; page 45 ^ Constitution of the North German Federation // Retrieved Dec 2017 ^ Hamburg and the Freeport - Economy and Society 1888–1914, by Peter Borowsky, publ Hamburg University Press, Hamburg, 2005; p. 114 ^ Cite error: The named reference prange1 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ "Speicherstadt Hamburg Entwicklungskonzept (German)" (PDF). Hamburg Behörde für Stadtentwicklung und Umwelt. April 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2015. ^ Cite error: The named reference prange2 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Cite error: The named reference act was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Cite error: The named reference weinhold was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
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