Sunday, May 03, 2009


Hamburg enjoys a proliferation of long, wide, elegant promenades in the city center, all originally created to combine high-quality edifices for upscale shopping and gracious, stately living.

The oldest of these fashionable promenades is Esplanade, created before The Great Fire Of 1842.

This elegant street was commissioned by the city and based upon Berlin’s most fashionable thoroughfare, Unter Den Linden (“Under the Lime Trees”). Its construction occurred between 1827 and 1830.

The postcard below, from 1830, presents Esplanade as it looked when it was brand-new.

Only one of the street’s original houses still stands. That house is mentioned as being the home of Hans Castorp’s grandfather in Thomas Mann’s novel, “The Magic Mountain”.

Since World War II, this entire area has become nothing more than a commercial zone. The street remains spacious, and a few elegant buildings from earlier eras survive, but most of the street is now given over to office buildings and hotels, a few of which are undistinguished 1960’s high-rises.

Ground levels of office buildings house shops, restaurants and cafes.

Hamburg’s largest casino is on Esplanade, making Esplanade a well-traveled, vibrant street at night.

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