A Trave River Harbor Installation And The History Behind It

Lübeck Trave River

I shot the photo above one month ago when I wandered through Lübeck. The photo in this post is shot near the inner-city, the side where I shot the photo from is the historic district of Lübeck, but in this photo you can only see the old harbor installation on the other side of the district, in the middle is the Trave River.

We call the area on the other side Wallhalbinsel, which means something like “Wall-Peninsula”. To explain this, what you see on the photo is a peninsula, it’s an artificial island, here is how the peninsula looks like today. The peninsular was not alway there, before the end of the 18th century there was actually a widespread rampart that you can see on top of the following public domain city plan of Lübeck in the year 1750…

Old city plan or city map of Lübeck in the year 1750

I’d say take a look at the rampart in the North of the old map, although this is not really the north, for some reason the image was painted with the West on top and East on the bottom. Anyway, you can see the rampart that would have been there if I would have shot the image in the year 1750, the rampart was built in 1613, but the city council of Lübeck decided already around the year 1803 to dismantle the own bastions stepwise.

The reason why they removed the bastion was that ramparts had no function anymore at some point, artillery technology became that good that no bastion would hinder enemies anymore to destroy the city and Napoleon showed with his wars through Europe that bastions don’t stop armies anymore. But even if there is no rampart anymore where I shot the photo, the whole story explain why the term “Wall” is still in the name today.

Apart from the fact that bastions had no real function anymore, the city transformed the whole area over time for two more reasons, to develop and expand the harbor area, and there was more room needed to connect the area with the new railroad freight network. They added more and more shelters to the area in the time span from 1897 to 1949. Back then they were mainly used to store grain. But by the middle and end of the 20th century they were used to store wood, paper, cellulose, salt, potash.

But it must be mentioned that this harbor area had reached its economic high already in the year 1960, over time most of the port operation and transportation relocated, mainly because with the standardized cargo, this business was now more and more processed with freight and cargo containers, and that lead to too tight spatial conditions in the area. There was still port operation in the area until around 1983 but after that the place was more and more used by other local business enterprises and craft enterprises.

I remember that most of the shelters were already empty when I was in my twenties. It was great for us young people, especially for musicians. I was in a music band and I remember that we did rent one of the shelter halls for a monthly amount of 30 Deutsche Mark, divide this through four people of our band and you get a fee of 7.50 DM. Not only this, we didn’t have to pay for electricity, they just enabled it and we could use our instruments without costs. To be honest, that was a fun time, but also a little bit grungy as we didn’t only make music, we did also use the place to party hard, which is why we didn’t really make it when it comes to music. If you want to read about that time then check this article out, it also contains another photo of the place, shot from a slightly different perspective. I hope you liked my article about this area in our city.


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