The end of Hamburg’s free port

The warehouse district as seen by Martin tom Dieck (image taken from www.mtomdieck.net)

The warehouse district as seen by Martin tom Dieck (image taken from http://www.mtomdieck.net)

When the city of Hamburg joined the German Empire, it was granted a free port where merchants were allowed to store, trade and process goods without having to pay taxes. As a result, new storage buildings were erected to form the Speicherstadt (warehouse district), inaugurated in 1888. The warehouse district inspired Martin tom Dieck to his avant-garde comic hundert Ansichten der Speicherstadt, published in 1997 when the buildings were already no longer used for sea trade (see also my paper “Hamburg’s warehouse district in Martin tom Dieck’s hundert Ansichten der Speicherstadt). After 124 years, the free port has now been dissolved on January 1, and the whole harbour area in Hamburg is henceforth a regular part of the German customs territory. (Other free ports continue to exist, though, in Germany and elsewhere.)

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