Frankfurt am Main

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Frankfurt am Main,

Germany: see FrankfurtFrankfurt
or Frankfurt am Main
, city (1994 pop. 659,800), Hesse, central Germany, a port on the Main River. It is also known in English as Frankfort. The city is an industrial, media, and commercial center and a transportation hub.
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Frankfurt am Main


(also Frankfurt), a city in the Federal Republic of Germany, in the Land of Hesse; situated on the banks of the Main River, near its confluence with the Rhine. One of West Germany’s major economic and cultural centers. Population, 652,000 (1975).

Frankfurt is the principal city of the Rhine-Main industrial region, which has a population of 2,500,000. It is one of Europe’s most important transportation hubs, with seven main railroads, which carried 6.5 million tons of freight in 1972. The following highways pass through or near the city: Basel-Lübeck, Ruhr-Munich (via Karlsruhe), and Frankfurt-Nuremberg. The river port handles 7.2 million tons of cargo per year. In 1973 more than 11 million passengers used the Rhein-Main international airport, which is the largest in West Germany. A petroleum pipeline connects Frankfurt with Wesseling, and a gas pipeline extending from Worms to Kassel passes through the city.

Frankfurt produces chemical products, including plastics, dyes, polyester fibers, and pharmaceuticals; the principal chemical concern is Farbwerke Höchst. Other leading industries include the electrical industry, which produces electronic equipment, electrical measuring instruments, and communications equipment; the general machine-building industry, which produces machine tools, printing machinery, equipment for the leather and footwear industry, and chemical equipment; and the precision engineering and optical industry, which produces office machines, calculating machines, typewriters, and instruments for the motor vehicle and aviation industries. In nearby areas, such as Hanau, nonferrous metallurgical plants process rare and precious metals. Frankfurt is surrounded by industrial satellite cities, including Höchst, Raunsheim, Kelsterbach, Offenbach, and Rüsselsheim.

Frankfurt is one of West Germany’s most important banking centers; its financial institutions include the Deutsche Bank, the Dresdner Bank, the Deutsche Bundesbank, and branches of foreign banks. Currency exchange plays an important role in the city’s financial markets. Every year, international trade fairs and fur auctions are held in Frankfurt. A number of West German and foreign concerns have offices in the city, including AEGTelefunken, Degussa, Olivetti, and Honeywell.

Frankfurt’s cultural and educational institutions include Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Saint George Hochschule of Philosophy and Theology, the Städel Hochschule for the Arts, the German Institute for International Pedagogical Research, the Institute of Nuclear Physics, the German Meteorological Service, the Goethe Museum and Library (the poet was born in Frankfurt), and a zoo. The city has a subway.


The first reference to Frankfurt dates from 794, when the city was called Fraconofurd (Ford of the Franks). The city was the first capital of the East Frankish Kingdom and remained the capital city until the tenth century. Beginning in 1152, the German kings were chosen in Frankfurt; the Holy Roman emperors were elected and, beginning in 1562, crowned in the city. Between 1372 and 1806, Frankfurt was a free imperial city. From 1806 to 1813 it was a part of the Confederation of the Rhine, and from 1815 to 1866 it was a free city of the German Confederation and the seat of the confederation’s diet. In 1866 it became a part of Prussia. At the end of the 19th century the city developed into one of Germany’s industrial centers. In 1949, Frankfurt became part of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The Old City, with its numerous monuments of medieval architecture, was almost completely destroyed between 1943 and 1945, chiefly as a result of Anglo-American bombings. During the 1950’s and 1960’s new residential districts with extensive green zones were built (principal architect H. Henning); numerous high-rise buildings were constructed, and broad avenues were laid out. Restored historic structures include the Romanesque Pfalz (imperial castle), the Saalhof (12th century), and several churches, such as the Gothic St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral (c. 1250–16th century). Other restored buildings include the Römer (the town hall, comprising seven separate buildings, 15th—18th centuries), the Steinernes Haus (begun 1464), and the Salzhaus (c. 1600). Notable 20th-century buildings and complexes include Raunheim and other workers’ settlements near the city (1925–30, architect E. May) and the former headquarters of I. G. Farben (1928–30, architect H. Poelzig). The city’s museums and galleries include the Städel Art Institute, which has a collection of European paintings and graphic art from the 15th to 20th centuries; the Municipal Gallery, which houses a collection of sculpture; and the Museum of Artisan Art.


Archiv für Frankfurts Geschichte und Kunst. Frankfurt am Main, 1839—.
Frankfurt: Lebendige Stadt. Frankfurt am Main, 1956—.
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