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, city, Germany

Hamburg (hämˈbo͝orkh), officially Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg (Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg), city (1994 pop. 1,702,900), coextensive with, and capital of, Hamburg state (288 sq mi/746 sq km), N Germany, on the Elbe River near its mouth in the North Sea, and on the Alster River. The economic center of Germany and its second largest city, Hamburg is the nation's busiest port and its major industrial city. Manufactures include copper, vegetable and mineral oils, machinery, electrotechnical goods, and cigarettes. Its harbor handles approximately one half of Germany's imports (foodstuffs, tea, coffee, and petroleum) and exports (machinery, processed petroleum, copper, and pharmaceuticals).

Hamburg originated (early 9th cent.) in the Carolingian castle of Hammaburg, probably built by Charlemagne as a defense against the Slavs. It became (834) an archepiscopal see (united in 847 with the archdiocese of Bremen) and a missionary center for northern Europe. The city quickly grew to commercial importance and in 1241 formed an alliance with Lübeck, which later became the basis of the Hanseatic League. Hamburg accepted the Reformation in 1529. In 1558 the first German stock exchange was founded there; with the arrival of Dutch Protestants, Portuguese Jews, and English cloth merchants (expelled from Antwerp), and with the expansion of commercial ties with the United States after 1783, Hamburg continued to prosper.

The city was occupied by the French in 1806 and in 1815 joined the German Confederation. In 1842 a fire destroyed much of the city. After World War I Hamburg was briefly (1918–19) a socialist republic. In 1937 the city ceded Cuxhaven, its outlying port, to Prussia, but incorporated the neighboring towns of Altona, Harburg, and Wandsbek. During World War II (especially in 1943) Hamburg was severely damaged by aerial bombardment, and some 55,000 persons were killed. After the end of the cold war, the city became a transit port for trade with Central Europe and experienced a surge in shipping.

Hamburg today is an elegant, modern city and a cultural center, widely known for its opera, theaters, magazine- and book-publishing houses, radio and television broadcasting centers, and film studios. At its center are two lakes, the Binnenalster (Inner Alster) and the Aussenalster (Outer Alster). The St. Pauli district, with its well-known street, the Reeperbahn, includes numerous places of entertainment. HafenCity, marked by striking modern buildings, is a major waterfront redevelopment of former port sections of Hamburg and includes the Elbphilharmonie (2017), the home of one of the city's three symphony orchestras. Hamburg is the seat of a university (founded 1919), several museums, and medical and technical institutes. There are extensive zoological and botanical gardens. Noteworthy buildings include the baroque St. Michael's Church (1750–62), rebuilt (1907–12) after a fire; the Church of St. Jacobi (begun in the 14th cent.); and the Renaissance-style city hall (1886–97). Felix Mendelssohn and Johannes Brahms were born in the city.


, village, United States
Hamburg (hămˈbûrg), village (1990 pop. 10,442), Erie co., W N.Y., S of Buffalo; settled c.1808, inc. 1874. Part of a township of 48,000 people, Hamburg is a residential and industrial suburb of Buffalo. Its manufactures include rubber goods and optical products. Hilbert College is there.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



or Hansestadt Hamburg, the largest city and port of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), one of the main centers of foreign trade, industry, banking, and insurance. It is situated on both banks of the Elbe, 110 km from its mouth on the North Sea. Administratively it forms the Land of Hamburg. Area, 747 sq km; population, 1.8 million (in 1969, 1.7 million in 1939, 1.4 million in 1946, and 1.6 million in 1950). The nearest suburbs are Geesthacht, Reinbek, Pinneberg, and Ahrensburg. Of the total number of the economically active population (824,000 in 1969), 38 percent worked in industry and crafts; about 30 percent in transportation, commerce, banking, and insurance; about 30 percent in the service sectors; and 2 percent in fishing and agriculture.

Hamburg is one of the leading ports of the world; it plays an important role in international navigation and is the main seaport of the country. It is the port of registry of two-thirds of the entire tonnage of the merchant fleet of the FRG and the location of the offices of the largest shipping lines. The area of the seaport is 40 sq km, including a free port of 15 sq km; the length of the quays is 36.4 km. The freight turnover was 47 million tons in 1970. The river port of Hamburg is one of the largest in the FRG, with a freight turnover of 10 million tons in 1969. In 1968 construction of the North-South Canal was begun, which connects the Elbe with the Central German Canal. Hamburg is a junction for railroads (freight turnover, about 14 million tons), automobile traffic, and air transportation (passenger turnover at the Fuhlsbüttel airport, about 3 million people). In 1969, 312,000 people were occupied in industry and crafts. The main branches (according to the number of persons involved in each) are the electrical industry (about 30,000), food processing (about 28,500), general machine building (27,600), shipbuilding (22,500), chemicals (16,000), rubber and asbestos (13,000), printing and publishing (13,000), metalworking (9,000), and petroleum refining (9,000). Hamburg is noted for shipbuilding and its related service industries. One-third of all the shipbuilding in the FRG is carried out in Hamburg. Shipbuilding and ship repair come to about two-fifths of the total exports of Hamburg. Significant in their own right are the electrical industries (X-ray apparatus, electric motors, radio sets, etc.), general machine building, and aircraft construction. The petroleum refining industry works with imported crude oil (at the beginning of 1970 the plant capacity for direct distillation of crude oil amounted to 12.5 million tons; the largest refineries belong to the monopolies of Exxon [USA], Deutsche Shell, and BP [Benzin und Petroleum]); industries also utilizing imported raw materials are copper smelting (80 percent of copper smelting in the FRG), rubber and asbestos, leather, food processing (dairy, margarine, chocolate, flour milling, fruit and fish canning, tobacco, coffee, tea, and beer), chemicals, furniture, and textiles. Newspaper publishing is an important industry; Hamburg publishes more than 40 percent of the total circulation of daily newspapers in the FRG. Hamburg is a center of the cinematic industry. The commodity exchanges for coffee, sugar, and rubber are located in Hamburg. The Hamburg stock exchange, founded in 1558, is one of the oldest in Europe.

The present administrative municipal boundary was established in 1938, when Altona, Harburg-Wilhelmsburg, Wandsbek, Bergedorf and a number of rural districts were incorporated into Hamburg. The city is situated on the banks of the Elbe and on islands. The various parts of the city are connected by bridges, ferries, and a tunnel 450 m long for pedestrians and motor vehicles. At the confluence of the Alster and the Elbe rivers lies the business center of Hamburg, which is divided into the Altstadt and Neustadt. The industrial and commercial center is Elberstadt, which includes the port area (mostly on islands) and the adjoining quarters. Along an artificially constructed arm of the Alster River lie the quarters of the Outer Alster; the pleasure district is St. Pauli.


Hamburg was half destroyed from 1943 to 1945; since the war it has changed its appearance owing to the addition of new thoroughfares and the erection of high-rise commercial buildings and a number of residential complexes. Among the preserved old architectural monuments are the St. Katharinenkirche (late 14th-early 15th century), St. Jacobikirche (end of the 14th century), and St. Michaeliskirche (1750-62) with its tower, the “Big Michel” (132 m). Constructed in the 20th century are the houses Chilehaus (1922-23) and Sprinkenhof (1928), both by the architect F. Höger; the Opera (1954-55), by the architects H. Weber, W. Lux, V. Gastreich, and H. Ebert; and the Elbe bridge (1955; architect, B. Hermkes).

Hamburg is an important scientific and cultural center. There is a university with institutes for forestry and the lumber industry, tropical diseases, pedagogy, and international economy; there is also a Hochschule for music and the theatrical arts. The German Hydrographic Institute is located there. The Institute for Atomic Research, located in Geesthacht, carries on research for the construction and operation of atomic ship propulsion plants. The Opera was founded in 1678. Museums include an art museum (Kunsthalle), an ethnography and primitive history museum, a handicrafts museum, and a museum of the history of Hamburg. The zoological gardens were founded by K. Hagenbeck in 1907.

Hamburg was well known from the ninth century as a fortification established by Charlemagne. From 831, Hamburg was the center of a bishopric and in 834-45, of an archbishopric. In the late 12th and 13th centuries it attained self-government. Hamburg played an important role in north German trade and was one of the most influential members of the Hanseatic League. The ruling class in Hamburg was the patriciate, representing the upper stratum of the merchants, against which many guild and plebeian uprisings took place. In 1510, Hamburg received the rights of a free imperial city. In 1529 the Reformation took hold in Hamburg. In the 16th century it became one of the most important ports of the continent. In 1815 it entered the German Confederation as a free city. After the unification of Germany in 1871, Hamburg (with more than 400,000 inhabitants by 1880) became its “gateway to the sea.” On the eve of World War II approximately one-half of all German exports and imports passed through its harbor.

The revolutionary uprisings of the Hamburg workers (1896, 1906, 1911, etc.) found wide response all over Germany. In 1867 the first edition of K. Marx’ Das Kapital appeared in Hamburg. The activity of A. Bebel is to a large extent connected with Hamburg. E. Thälmann was born in Hamburg and guided the revolutionary workers’ movement there for many years. The Hamburg proletariat played an important part in the November Revolution of 1918 and in subsequent revolutionary struggles. In October 1923 it was the scene of the heroic Hamburg uprising. During the years of the fascist dictatorship groups of the Resistance were active there. After the breakdown of fascist Germany, Hamburg became a part of the British Zone of Occupation; since 1949 it has been part of the FRG.


Studt, B., and H. Olsen. Hamburg. Hamburg, 1951.
Gröning, K. Chronologie der Stadt Hamburg. Hamburg, 1948.
Tecke, A., and K. Möller. Bücherkunde zur hamburgischen Geschichte, vols. 1-2. Hamburg, 1939-56.
Schellenberg, K. Das alte Hamburg. Leipzig, 1936.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a city-state and port in NW Germany, on the River Elbe: the largest port in Germany; a founder member of the Hanseatic League; became a free imperial city in 1510 and a state of the German empire in 1871; university (1919); extensive shipyards. Pop.: 1 734 083 (2003 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005