High-Rises in Frankfurt - The Frankfurt Skyline

Ask any skyscraper fan in Europe to think of high-rises in Europe, and they will almost certainly have one thing spring to mind: high-rises in Frankfurt. The metropolis on the river Main is the only city in Germany which has a skyline of very tall buildings. The skyline has become a landmark in the city over the last 30 years. More than 30 buildings in a fairly small area reach a structural height of more than 100 meters. These include 14 of the 15 tallest skyscrapers in Germany. Here at the Skyline Atlas, we explain each one!

Why Frankfurt became a city of high-rise buildings

The oldest tall buildings in Frankfurt are the Mousonturm (built 1923-1926), the I.G. Farben house (built 1928-1931, today the main building of the Goethe Uni) and the trade union house (built 1930-1931). These three high-rise buildings are up to 35 meters (115 feet) high and stand even to this day. Nowadays, though, these are no longer perceived as high-rise buildings, when compared with those being built today.

Until the Second World War, the old town was a landmark of the city, with its many small and winding streets; the residents of Frankfurt were very proud of it. The destruction of Frankfurt’s inner city by the air raids in the Second World War resulted in empty buildings everywhere, and the pride of the Frankfurters, which was originally a source of identity, was laid to ruins. From 1949, on account of the concentration of the banks and the resulting economic surge, there emerged numerous high-rise buildings of ever greater height.

The AfE Tower, which was completed in 1972 and demolished on February 2, 2014, was the first high-rise building with a height of more than 100 meters to rise above the Gothic cathedral tower for the first time. The Plaza Hotel (Plaza Büro Center) and the former Dresdner-Bank-Hochhaus were the first skyscrapers with a height of more than 150 meters in the late 1970s. These were followed by new high-rise buildings.

The city of Frankfurt today regulates using urban development plans, which examine where and how high-rise buildings should be built. Today most of the high-rise buildings are located in clusters in the banking district, along Mainzer Landstrasse and in the Europaviertel in close proximity to the exhibition grounds. The skyscrapers from the Palaisquartier in the city centre and the new building of the European Central Bank in the Ostend (“East End”) district of Frankfurt are a counter group to these clusters.

For many years, the construction of tall buildings in Frankfurt was controversial. During the Frankfurter Häuserkampf (“Frankfurt house fightings”) at the beginning of the 1970s, the nicknames ‘Bankfurt’ and ‘Krankfurt’ emerged to represent the feeling towards the city as a place which promoted the interests of investors at the expense of the old-established population. Since the 1980s, however, the Frankfurt skyline has become a landmark for the city and has become the symbol of prosperity and future orientation. The inhabitants of Frankfurt increasingly identified themselves with their high-rise buildings, which became more visually appealing. Since 1996, the Wolkenkratzerfestival (“skyscraper festival”) has been celebrated at irregular intervals (so far, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2007 and 2013).

Today, Frankfurt is Europe’s modern financial and cultural centre. In recent years, ‘Mainhattan’ has continued to develop its radiance. This proves quite impressively the ever-increasing numbers of overnight stays from tourists. Thus, the metropolis on the Main river has the most overnight stays per inhabitant in the whole of Germany (according to the newspaper “Die Welt”).

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