Port of Frankfurt
Review and History

The Port of Frankfurt is Germany’s fifth-largest city and the largest city in the state of Hesse. About 30 kilometers upstream from where the Main River meets the Rhine, it is the center Germany’s second largest metropolitan region with about 5.3 million population. In the Middle Ages, the world “Frankfurt” meant the “Franks’ river crossing,” indicating its history of habitation by the Franks.

The Port of Frankfurt is the transportation and financial center of Germany and one of the most important financial centers in Europe, being the home of the European Central Bank, the Frankfurt Trade Fair, the German Federal Bank, and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. It is also home to one of the world’s busiest airports, one of the biggest train stations in Europe, and the most heavily used section of the famous Autobahn. In 2003, over 640 thousand people lived in the city, and almost 3.7 million lived in the urban area around Port of Frankfurt in 2000.

Port History

Archaeological evidence suggests that Celts and Germanic peoples had settlements on the site of the Port of Frankfurt as early as the 1st Century BC. Roman remains from the 1st and 2nd Centuries AD have also been found. The name of Frankfurt was most likely adopted in about 500 AD when the Franks drove out the Alemanni peoples. However, it was first mentioned as Franconofurt in the 8th Century by Charlemagne’s biographer.

From the 9th Century, the city’s imperial castle was residence to the Frankish Carolingians. The Hohenstaufen Dynasty built a new castle in 12th Century and walled the city. The first documented Frankfurt Trade Fair was held there in 1150. In 1152, Frederick I, a Hohenstaufen ruler, was elected king in the city.

Emperor Frederick II granted imperial privilege to the city’s visitors in 1240, meaning the empire would protect them. In 1356, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV named the city as the permanent location for German kings to be enthroned. The first book trade fairs were held in the Port of Frankfurt in 1478.

From 1372 to 1806, the Port of Frankfurt was a free imperial city. In 1806, however, it was made the capital for Napoleon’s Confederation of the Rhine and later his Grand Duchy of Frankfurt.

When Napoleon was defeated in 1815, the Port of Frankfurt became a free city again. From 1816 until 1866, it was the capital of Germany. In 1866, Prussia annexed The Port of Frankfurt, taking its free-city status away.

The Frankfurt Parliament, the first democratically-elected parliament in Germany, was opened in 1848. The parliament failed, though, and the assembly adopted a constitution for Germany with its monarch a Prussian king in 1849.

The citizens of the Port of Frankfurt established the University of Frankfurt in 1914, calling it the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University. It is the only civic-founded university in Germany, and it is one of the country’s largest today.

French troops occupied the city after World War I. In 1924, the city had its first Jewish Mayor, Ludwig Landmann. Later Nazi-driven actions saw the destruction of the city’s synagogues.

The Port of Frankfurt’s Old Town was the biggest in-tact medieval city in Germany until World War II. Allied bombers all but destroyed the Old Town in 1944, and its old buildings were replaced with modern multi-story buildings. The Romer still stands, where coronations of the Holy Roman emperors were conducted, as do two other houses on the Romer city square. In 1948-49, the Frankfurt National Assembly met there. Since the end of World War II, the Port of Frankfurt has re-established its position as one of the most important financial centers in Europe.

The city constructed one of the most efficient underground transport systems during the 1970s. The system includes a suburban rail system and light rail capable of using street rails above ground.

Since 1240, the Port of Frankfurt has been the site of international trade fares. Today, it’s an important center for finance, commerce, and high-technology. Its stock exchange opened for the first time in 1585, and the Rothschild’s international banking empire was born there.

In addition to financial and commercial service sectors, the Port of Frankfurt has several important manufacturing companies producing automobiles, chemical products, printing materials, machinery, pharmaceutical products, and foodstuffs (including the famous frankfurter).

Long a crossroads for traffic from south Germany and Switzerland to the northern Ruhr region and northern Germany, it has hosted much commerce by road, rail, and river. Today, it is still an important transportation hub for western Germany and inland shipping.

Since the Middle Ages, the Port of Frankfurt has been an active focal point for trade and commerce. The first mention of the port is from 790 AD when Karl was named as the main boat operator there. By 1105, ships were moving between Mainz and the Port of Frankfurt. When the Main River was canalized into the Rhine and Frankfurt, the planning for the modern Port of Frankfurt began in 1887.

By 1912, waterborne traffic had increased dramatically, and the first part of the East Port was opened. From 1923 to 1965, interrupted only by the Great Depression and World War II, development of the upper port was almost continuous. The container terminal was opened in 1986, and a new effort to modernize and update port facilities and services began in 1997.

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