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Frankfurt nicknames - Krankfurt - Bankfurt - Mainhattan - abusive names

Why did Frankfurt have abusive names?

The city of Frankfurt has been an important trading and financial center since the Middle Ages. Before the Second World War there were more than 1,250 half-timbered houses in the historic Old Town, which made Frankfurt one of the most important medieval half-timbered towns.

Both Old Town and New Town were considered a gem of the European metropolis and was one of the most famous tourist attractions in Germany. The people of Frankfurt were proud of their city and many visitors were amazed by their beauty. Many streets were lined with richly decorated Wilhelminian style houses.

Allied air raids on Frankfurt during World War II, however, wiped out the entire medieval city center. As a result, thousands of historic buildings in Frankfurt fell victim to the flames, including around 1,800 half-timbered houses in the Old Town (Altstadt) and New Town (Neustadt). As a result, Frankfurt completely lost its identity.

After the end of the war, the development of the city in the 1950s and 1960s created a completely new cityscape, which was characterized at times by buildings that were becoming ever taller. During this time, Frankfurt was looking for a new beginning and modernity. A main focus of the high-rise developments at that time was the Financial District and the Westend. But construction took place in no careful way.

Frankfurt in 1899 - Kaiserstrasse at Kaiserplatz

The picture shows Kaiserstrasse on Kaiserplatz in 1899. Today it’s hard to believe that this once was Frankfurt.

Frankfurt House Warfare - Demonstrations Against Gentrification

Frankfurt - Living space destroyed for profit hunting
Westend Frankfurt - demolition of buildings in the 1970s
Häuserkampf Frankfurt 1974, KBW-Film Rolle 3 (Original)

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Amateur recordings of demonstrations and street battles from 1974: Frankfurt House Warfare (Frankfurter Häuserkampf)

As a result of excessive building activity and the pursuit of profit, urban districts that have grown over time have been transformed at the expense of the long-established population. In addition, administrative buildings were built in residential areas that went beyond the scope of their surrounding development and displaced established tenants through gentrification.

At the beginning of the 1970s, part of the population in Frankfurt began to resist ruthless capitalism. The unrestrained administration buildings and high-rise buildings in residential areas became the focus for the activists. In times of demonstrations, squatting and the Frankfurt House Fights (Frankfurter Häuserkampf), the terms Krankfurt (lit. “sick furt”), Bankfurt, and Mainhattan were established as bad words for investor anger. Frankfurt‘s reputation suffered heavily in the 1970s from frequent street battles between demonstrators and the police, who first appeared here in Germany and spilled over to Berlin a year later.

Organized crime, such as drug trafficking, was particularly evident in Frankfurt‘s red light district Bahnhofsviertel, which is right next to the Banking District. At that time Frankfurt was considered ugly, uncontrolled and “ungovernable”. Politicians tried to accommodate the citizens with means like the Westend Plan.

Since the 1980s, locations for new office buildings in Frankfurt have been carefully selected and established residential areas, such as Westend and Bahnhofsviertel, have been declared a taboo zone for new high-rise buildings. Therefore, no new high-rise locations in urban districts with historical buildings and/or predominantly residential use are provided for in the master plans for urban development from the 1980s.

The negative sentiment towards major construction projects subsided. The concentration of high-rise buildings in the Financial District then created an increasingly dense and relatively coherent high-rise silhouette. From the 1990s, more emphasis was placed on more sophisticated architecture. From this time on, the Frankfurt skyline was increasingly a symbol for prosperity and future orientation. The population identified more and more with their skyscrapers, which have been a new symbol of the city since the beginning of the 21st century.

Since the 1990s, the bad names Krankfurt and Bankfurt have hardly been used. The two terms Bankfurt and Mainhattan have even been reversed in the past three decades and are now positively proven nicknames of Frankfurt.

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