Frankfurt am Main

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Frankfurt (frängkˈfo͝ort) or Frankfurt am Main (frängkˈfo͝ort) (äm mīn), city (2021 pop. 841,795), 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. A world financial center and Germany's financial capital, it is headquarters of the leading German stock exchange, numerous commercial banks, and the Bundesbank, Germany's central bank; the European Central Bank also is there. Manufactures include river craft, pharmaceuticals, metals, machinery, oil products, and beer. Chemical production is concentrated in the Höchst district. Frankfurt is the site of major international trade fairs, including an annual book fair. Its international airport is one of the largest and busiest in Europe.

Points of Interest

Points of interest include the Römer (the city hall, begun in the 15th cent.); the Gothic Church of St. Bartholomew (13th–15th cent.), also called the coronation cathedral, which has a high (312 ft/95 m) tower; the house (now a museum) in which Goethe was born (1749); the Lutheran Church of St. Paul, or Paulskirche (built 1789–1833), where the Frankfurt Parliament met; the Städel Art Institute (founded 1816); the German Postal Museum; the Jewish Museum; and museums of applied arts, ethnology, film, and architecture. The Commerzbank Tower (850 ft/259 m) and Messeturm Building (843 ft/257 m) are among the tallest buildings in Europe. Frankfurt is the seat of a university (opened 1914) and a national library.


A Roman town founded in the 1st cent. A.D., Frankfurt became (8th cent.) a royal residence under Charlemagne. After the Treaty of Verdun (843) it was briefly the capital of the kingdom of the Eastern Franks (i.e., Germany). It prospered as a commercial center and held annual fairs (first mentioned 1240) that drew merchants from all of Europe. Frankfurt was designated in the Golden Bull (1356) of Emperor Charles IV as the seat of the imperial elections of the Holy Roman Empire, which took place in the chapel of the Church of St. Bartholomew. It was made a free imperial city in 1372.

After the emperors ceased to be crowned by the popes, the coronation ceremonies took place (1562–1792) at Frankfurt. The emperors-elect, after being crowned at St. Bartholomew's by the archbishop-elector of Mainz, proceeded with much pageantry to a banquet in the city hall, called Römer [Ger.,=Romans] because the emperors-elect were crowned kings of the Romans. The coronation (1764) of Joseph II has been described in the autobiography of the writer Goethe, a native of Frankfurt.

Frankfurt accepted the Reformation in 1530, and was a member of the Schmalkaldic League. It was occupied many times in the wars of the 17th and 18th cent. Frankfurt was the original home of the Rothschilds, who, along with other Jewish merchants and bankers, played a leading role in the economic growth of the city (especially after 1700). After the dissolution (1806) of the Holy Roman Empire, Frankfurt was included in the ecclesiastic principality of Regensburg and Aschaffenburg, created by Napoleon I for Karl Theodor von Dalberg. The principality was converted in 1810 into the grand duchy of Frankfurt, also under Dalberg.

The Congress of Vienna (1814–15) restored Frankfurt to the status of a free city and made it the seat of the diet of the German Confederation. The Frankfurt Parliament, the first German national assembly, met there in 1848–49. Having sided with Austria in the Austro-Prussian War (1866), Frankfurt was annexed by Prussia. In 1871 the Treaty of Frankfurt, which ended the Franco-Prussian War, was signed there. The city was heavily damaged in World War II, but after 1945 many of its historic landmarks were restored and numerous modern structures were built.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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—.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.