The Second City Of Germany - Hamburg
( Originally Published 1913 )
THE imperial city of Hamburg is a monument of modern commercial prosperity. Though des-tined from the first to become a great sea-port, owing to her location at the mouth of the Elbe, that water highway for middle Europe, she experienced many trying vicissitudes. Her present supremacy dates from the establishment of steamer connection with America. The old Hamburg was a free city; the Hamburg of today is virtually a little republic, making her own laws and coining her own money. The governing body consists of eighteen senators elected for life, and one-hundred and sixty representatives having a tenure of six years, and from its own members the Senate selects two burgomasters for each year. The city is an independent member of the German empire, represented in the Bundesrath. After London and New York, Hamburg is perhaps the most important commercial city in the world; upwards of fourteen thousand seagoing vessels are said to enter its port in a year, the river Elbe contributing an additional nineteen thousand bottoms. The free port with its huge wharves, docks, and stores, separated from the rest of the city by a customs line, is one of the great sights of Germany.
In the face of all this material excellence it is difficult for the American traveler, hungry for evidences of antiquity or of historical import, to delve beneath the modern veneer for old Hamburg. This difficulty is considerably increased owing to the fire of 1842, which swept the city for three days, destroying practically all the oldest part ; but once you get on the track of old sites and stray landmarks the search proves interesting. An awe inspiring phenomenon connected with the great fire was the ringing of church bells in the midst of the flames—attributed by some to curious physical causes, by others to the hand of an old sexton hemmed in by the fire.
Charlemagne, in the busy years succeeding his coronation, established a fort on the tongue of land between the Alster and the Elbe as a check to the Wends, those unpleasant barbarians who could not be tamed and refused to be chastened, and in 811 he erected the Hammaburg about where the Petri Church and the Johanneum stand today. At the time William the Norman was invading England, Hamburg boasted three castles :—that of the Saxon Duke Bernhard II, which replaced the old Hammaburg; a second one, to the southeast, about where Hopfensack Strasse runs, belonging to the archbishop of Hamburg; and a third, built by Duke Arnulf to offset the archbishop's power, on the spot where the present Nikolai Church stands. The street or square adjoining this church is called the Neuberg (new castle) to this day. Enclosing the triangular space thus formed ran the city wall, with a great wall tower on each of the sides. These are the three towers displayed on Hamburg's coat of arms.
The fashion set by William the Norman evidently found favor elsewhere, for Waldemar, king of the Danes, set out in search of conquests and laid siege to Hamburg for the purpose of exacting tribute. Thinking the movement would pay, he calmly built a castle just outside the city walls and proceeded to levy toll on the cargoes and trains of the good Hamburgers; his castle on the Feendsberg (enemies' hill) now corrupted into Venusberg, stood where Venusberg Street runs.
It was not the only quarter from which danger threatened, as a prosperous community of those days invited attack from all directions. The Vikings, for example, those dread North Sea pirates, never over-looked Hamburg in their marauding expeditions; and old records have it that the former meadows, now occupied by the Grasbrook section of the free port, were often dotted with the bleaching skulls of those daring Norsemen.
The suburb of St. Pauli was first settled by a colony of whalers and whale oil refiners, and the present church of St. Pauli was founded as a parish church to look after their religious needs.
The Danish castle at Feendsberg, however irksome it must have been, eventually made for the lasting profit of Hamburg, whose citizens succeeded in buying off the Danes; and this precious independence was subsequently acknowledged by neighboring potentates. In 1241 the Hanseatic League was formed (an offensive and defensive league entered into by the trading cities to protect themselves from the rapacity of neigh-boring powers) with Hamburg and Lübeck as the prime movers. In 1510 Hamburg, at last universally recognized as a free, imperial city, became the Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg and was enabled to enjoy some of the fruits of her ceaseless struggles. The wonder is that trade ever survived those dark ages and that the marauding nobles did not effectually kill the goose that laid the golden eggs.
The boundary of city walls was continually enlarged until it reached the line of the present circle of parks extending from the Bismarck monument, through the Botanical Garden, over the Lombardsbrücke to the Haupt Bahnhof, thence down to the Elbe. Later on the old walls were converted into streets, but may still be traced by their names, such as, Neuer Wall (new ramparts), Kurze Mühren (short walls), Lange Mühren and Bei Den Mühren. Along the park circle you can easily determine the names and locations of the various city gates by the names of the cross streets, such as Hafentor, Millerntor, Holstentor, Damtor, Ferdinandstor, etc., etc., the termination "tor" signifying gate.
That the city remained unscathed by the Thirty Years' War was due not to good fortune, but to good defenses. However, while annexed to France at the be-ginning of the nineteenth century, she suffered greatly at the hands of Marshal Davout when thousands of proscribed citizens, driven out of the town in bitter winter weather, perished of famine or exposure in the Heiligen Geist field and other environs. Facing the street between the cemeteries back of the Botanical Gardens stands a monument which marks the resting place of hundreds of these unfortunates, whose re-mains were gathered up and buried in one grave.
The names of the various market squares are interesting : Meat Market, Fish Market, Pig Market, Hop Market, Horse Market, Goose Market, etc. In the Goose Market (Gänsemarkt) stands a monument erected to Lessing in recognition of his activity in developing the early German opera and drama. Near by, at No. 27 Kônigstrasse, reached from the Gänsemarkt by an alley called Shirtsleeve (Hemdsarmel), stands the house where Klopstock, the famous poet and satirist, lived many years. Not far away at No. 6o Speckstrasse is an old half-timbered dwelling, now a tenement, standing in the back court, and here the composer Brahms was born. Mendelssohn's birthplace, at Michaelis Strasse 56, is further south toward the Elbe. Hamburgers of old needed no trades' directory, as the queer names of the streets will testify; Baker's Street, Mill Street, Brewer's Street, Hopsack Street, Wheelwright's Way, Corn Carrier's Way, Coalyard Street—these are some of the characteristic appellations. Their like may be found in most German towns and cities. At Kugelsort (Cannon-ball Place) are some old timbered houses with carved inscriptions ; Cat's Court (Katzenhof) is eloquent of the nightly trials of suffering humanity, and Adulterer's Way (Ehebrecher, now Ebrâer-Gang) suggests old-time scandals. Steinstrasse is said to have been the first paved street in Germany, and was so known to the journeymen of the Middle Ages, though not sufficiently droll to be used as their characteristic sign for Hamburg. Instead, they used an old gravestone—formerly in the old cathedral and now in the basement of the Johanneum—which displays the picture of a donkey playing the bagpipes ; its inscription, to the effect that "the world is topsy-turvy, that is why I, poor donkey, have learned to pipe," suggests, that as early as 1516, fashions and ideas had already begun to change too rapidly and unaccountably to suit some poor soul who employed this unique method of registering his protest.
So much for old Hamburg. Modern Hamburg is an attractive city ; not only does the ring of parks add to its natural beauty, but the Alster river, widened into a lake, makes a veritable park of the heart of the city. At the lower shore lies the business section which extends up the sides, in the guise of big hotels and fine office buildings, as far as Lombardsbrücke. Beyond this the lake is lined with handsome private houses (mostly detached), each adding its quota of garden and fine trees to the embellishment of the scene, and where the ferry crosses the upper end of the lake, is the Uhlenhorst section with its fine casino, a popular resort. Tiny steamers, making a round trip of the Alster, offer not only a pleasant outing but an effective means of traveling from one part of town to another, and the river affords opportunity for swimming, rowing, sailing and skating. Hamburg possesses strong attraction for the tourist in the shape of many arcades with small shops.
What concerned us most of all in Hamburg was getting possession of Pater's car. He had handed it over to a shipping agent in New York and had not seen it since; it is not necessary to employ a shipping agent, but the possibility of being obliged to use a special crane because of the car's weight induced Pater to place the responsibility upon more experienced shoulders. Accordingly we had only to call on this agent's representative and ask for news of the big bundle which, shipped on the President Lincoln, had arrived before we did. But, though we had been in town several days, the "Spediteur," as the Hamburg agent was called, could only promise the car for Fri-day or Saturday. Finally Pater's big box was located in the hold and promised positively for Saturday morning, so you see it required nearly a week's time to unload.
Nobody was more anxious to get the auto than Bobbie who, most of the time, had wandered around like a lost soul.
"Having a good time, Robert?" Pater would say. "Like foreign countries?"
"Yes, Mr. Pater, they are all very fetching; but if I could only lay hands on that car of mine again, I'd be happy."
Scoffy and the Youth, nothing loth to see the free port again, had seven o'clock breakfast with Pater on Saturday morning. The agent sent his handy-man up to the hotel, armed with cotton waste, oil and gasoline, and, with Bobbie, we set out in a cab for the docks. Once through the customs line, we alighted at a little ferry slip, whence the boat took us to our particular Hafen. The handy-man, valuable just as a guide in that vast region of stores and shipping, carried the gasoline can in a sack for reasons readily imagined. At last the President Lincoln towered be-fore us and, walking carefully to avoid the ton weights great cranes were lightly swinging from hold to pier, we soon spied a huge box labeled "THE ADAMS EXPRESS COMPANY OF NEW YORK," "MORRIS' EUROPEAN EXPRESS." Whee! but it was good to see that name, Adams Express Company, after being away from all things American for nearly a month. We felt like giving it a cheer. The box stood on rollers, and a dozen longshoremen with bars soon pinched it down to the end of the raised platform, where a traveling crane set it on the ground. Then came the unpacking. Willing hands assisted, and the agent carefully saved every nut and bolt, for the sections of the box were to go to Southampton, whence the car would be shipped for home. Each side was a section, and they soon had the beauty out, spick and span and ready for the road, with just a little dust upon her.
"I hope she go," remarked the agent; "so many foreign motors don't go right away."
"Well, you can bet a forty-dollar dog this one will go," retorted Bobbie, flushing at the insult to his favorite. The lubricating oil, which was very thick and dirty, demanded much straining and more swearing. "Well, if that's the oil they get over here, I don't wonder some cars don't go," quoth Bobbie; but it didn't take him long to fill the gasoline tank and get the motor humming.
Just as we finished unpacking, a guide came along with a following of open-mouthed "trippers" seeing the marvels of the Hamburg docks. The guide sidled up to Pater, asked a few hurried questions in a whisper, and then, turning to his audience, waved his cane and resumed his oration with great nonchalance.
"And this, ladies and gentlemen, is an American automobile, manufactured in the midst of Amerika, and just brought over from Neu York at incrrrrredible expense." The incredible expense, you may be interested to learn, was four hundred dollars for boxing, handling, and freight both ways.*
The next step was passing the double customs line. We whizzed along to the first one, picked up an officer who guided us to the second, where he left us to inte-view one of the chief inspectors of the port.
Pater gave his pedigree, presented his credentials and triptyques, and launched a few jokes suitable to the occasion, the inspector responding amiably, while his secretary made copious entries. Pater paid for his three-weeks license. The inspector came out to record a general description of the car, the maker's name, the factory number, the number of the motor, the horse-power, and the number of cylinders. Then he said:
"Here is your number tag. Put it on the back; a visiting car need not carry any in front. But fasten it on tight, for we will not give you another on this license, and you will have to surrender it when you cross the border." He playfully poked a package of cotton waste. "No liquors or cigars in here, hein? Nor any diamonds? Well, I'll say good-by. Take care of yourselves and have a good time." And with that we were through with the "dread German official" for good and all.
A day after our arrival the city resounded with the cry, `Der Kaiser kommt ! Der Kaiser kommt !" Everywhere men were busy decorating the streets and otherwise preparing for the imperial visit. He arrived by automobile and, one morning, Pater found that section of the best garage, where he had fondly hoped to locate, occupied by four white cars with the imperial monogram on their doors and little gold crowns surmounting the lamps. Pater felt huffed, but both the owner of the garage and the chauffeurs wearing the imperial maroon livery expressed their regret at ousting him. The latter invited him to inspect their cars, and permitted the Youth to test the softness of the cushions, that he might say he had sat in the Kaiser's car ; and so our chief grew mollified, and re-marked, maybe Rockefeller or Morgan would have put him out with less ceremony. We received a fair location in another part of the garage, though it was too crowded to suit us.
There being no palace in this "republic" the imperial yacht Hohenzollern, anchored off the St. Pauli landing stage, served as the Emperor's hotel. The day passed in official visits, but for the ensuing evening a water fête and a grand reception to the Kaiser at the Uhlenhorst Casino were planned. The shores of the Alster Basin had been strung for miles with festoons of electric lamps in Japanese lanterns, and the parade of gaily illuminated boats, the red fire and the rockets furnished a fine spectacle.
Pater's friends had secured an invitation for him and the "gnadige Frau." Acordingly Mater donned her best gown and the elegant new hat she had immediately purchased on this pretext ; and Pater dug his swallowtail out of the trunk. A honk at the door told that the motor was waiting. We all rushed downstairs to speed the departing guests and hurl our last jokes at them. Bobbie, the chauffeur, widened his happy smile by several degrees as he let in the clutch on his beloved car, and sent her along to her first imperial reception.
Hamburg has often been at loggerheads with the Kaiser. As often, perhaps, if not as irrationally as was the Prince of Reuss with old Emperor William; so this was the Kaiser's first visit in many years. We were, therefore, exceedingly curious to learn the issue. As a matter of fact it was a perfect love feast; expressions of mutual regard and good fellowship every-where. In the absence of the Empress, ladies are not presented. Accordingly, only men were permitted to ascend to the gallery where the Kaiser was entertaining his friends, though the ladies obtained a very good view of him from the terrace below, as he stepped out upon a balcony to greet them; they were very enthusiastic, and stood on tables and chairs to get a close look. The daughter of one of Pater's friends eyed the Kaiser so sharply from her perch on a table, that he shook his finger at her, saying : "Young lady, if you look at me like that my wife will be jealous." Pater, giving his version of the evening's entertainment, declared it a most informal affair. "I hung around Billie's elbow as long as I decently could, and yet give his best friends any show at all. Then I wandered over to the punch bowl, had a few smiles with my own friends and a sandwich or two, and strolled back again to hear a few more words of imperial wisdom."
And this, some American newspapers would have us believe, was the meeting of an arrogant, arbitrary despot and his servile, oppressed people. Who would be as gullible as the American public?
Next day Pater had a lot to say about "Me and the Emperor." Nothing serious, however, and scarcely worth Scoffy's gibe, "As my friend Prince Fuji Jama would say, `Never were such very honorable ribs so close to sagacious forefinger which punctuates venerable joke.' " "Never mind, Scoffy," rejoined Pater, "Me and the Emperor are getting pretty close, nowadays, aren't we ?" and then he began humming his fa-favorite air from "Pinafore" :
"When I was a lad, I served a term,
As office boy to an attorney's firm,
I cleaned the windows and I swept the floor,
And polished up the handle of the big front door."
"And polished up the handle of the big front door," he repeated with gusto, as if it were true and he relished the recollection.
Sunday was race-day at the Horner track, not far from town. The Kaiser was expected to attend the races, and the Kaiserin was coming for this express purpose. She was a patroness, having donated the Auguste Victoria prize for officers, a steeplechase prize worth some thousands of dollars. The Crownprince and the Crownprincess, as well as Prince Eitel Fried-rich with his wife, were in town, stopping at the hotel next door to ours.
As the Empress was late in arriving, the Emperor, awaiting her at the station, was also delayed. Some of Pater's friends were driven to the track first and when the motor returned for us it had grown pretty late and the streets were crowded. We resorted to side streets as far as possible, but finally were obliged to turn towards the only highway; along this street, held open for the Kaiser, an army of police was busy keeping back the masses of waiting spectators. A despairing wail of our horn brought a dozen policemen to the spot and they good-naturedly let us in through the crowd.
"Go as fast as you like," admonished the captain, "only, get out of the way."
As we swung into that broad, empty roadway, and started off at a twenty-mile pace, the people, expecting their ruler en automobile and seeing little more than the glittering front of our big Packard, imagined the Kaiser was approaching. A group of school children raised the first shout, which swelled into a tremendous roar as it swept along the line; handkerchiefs waved, caps flew into the air, people craned their necks and split their throats in a royal welcome. And so, for a scant ten minutes, we rode between lines of cheering thousands, enjoying the rousing greeting accorded a ruling sovereign. Pater enjoyed it right down to the ground, as the saying goes ; bowing right and left, gravely touching his cap in military salute, he needed all his strength of will to suppress the grin that threatened his dignity. I think he had about five years' fun in five minutes' time. As we drew up at the end of the line near the race track and the cheers had died away, his eyes sparkled with indescribable merriment, and he murmured softly, "I cleaned the windows and I swept the floor, and I polished up the handle of the big front door."
Here we were stalled to await the arrival of their majesties. When the Kaiser really came it was in a carriage drawn by four white horses. Scoffy stood on a carriage-block and "snapped" him—at least, as much of him as was possible, between an effort to avoid the interposition of the Kaiserin's big hat, and anxiety to include all four horses.
The races were run on a turf track, a pretty setting for the interesting holiday crowd. The presence of royalty had brought out a galaxy of beauty very handsomely gowned, and the usual collection of military uniforms was augmented by the appearance of many officers of high rank. The officers' races and the sight of many officers entered in other races with professional jockeys, proved a special attraction to us.
During intermissions occupants of the grand-stand promenaded the track in front of the imperial box, and many gathered there, coolly inspecting the royalties and their suites through lorgnettes and opera glasses, to which rather marked scrutiny the Emperor and the others seemed politely indifferent. We had a very good view of all the great personages, both during the races and afterwards while they were departing. The Kaiserin is a fine-looking woman, and her hair, almost entirely gray, adds to the dignity of her appearance. The Crownprincess has a pretty, vivacious face, which seldom lacks a rather mischievous and very attractive smile; extremely popular with all classes, the people speak of her affectionately as "our" Crownprincess, rather than "the" Crownprincess.
The returning traffic was admirably handled. Policemen stationed barely a hundred feet apart, kept every one moving steadily if slowly, and prevented any blockade. Noticing our impatience to get ahead of slower vehicles, policemen twice pointed out avenues of escape, but not in time for us to turn; had we known the city better we would doubtless have been able to seek side streets at once.
Some of our friends thought that the delusion of the populace regarding our identity earlier in the day, was largely increased by the car's lacking the customary local number on the front.
We saw a great deal of our friends and they made our stay most pleasant. Besides, Hamburg looked very beautiful from the balcony of our sitting-room on Neue Jungfernstieg, and the hotel was modern and comfortable. But Pater urged the resumption of the journey, so on the morning of the 23rd of June, accompanied by a bell-boy to show the shortest way out of town and get us headed along the proper road, we turned our backs on Hamburg. This unusual plan of giving dates is adopted for the benefit of those who might wish to make practical use of this book in planning a motor-tour.
Our plan was to strike south via Luneburg and spend the night at Brunswick. This was no specially long run, but we had determined to see things comfortably and rationally and not let the speeding-fever get into our blood. Long before sailing from America we had purchased a set of Ravenstein's maps of Germany and the routes chosen, as well as the daily stints, proved easily accomplished.
Before dismissing Hamburg entirely I wish to mention an amusing incident that occurred on our arrival. Having reached the city a day sooner than expected, we were obliged to take rooms in a hotel on Alte Jungfernstieg. This street proved very noisy and Pater importuned the hotel keeper of whom he had ordered rooms, to let us have them as soon as-possible. He was "willing to do all that could be done," but regretted that "the presence of a Japanese prince precluded the occupancy of two of the apartments."
"What!" exclaimed Scoffy, "my friend Prince Fuji Jama in town, and I didn't know it? I must try to see him at once."
But we got no sight of his highness, nor any trace of him. Though at first we believed him to be Scoffy's Japanese acquaintance of Amsterdam, we finally decided to class him as a picturesque example from the handy repertoire of myths hotel men employ to furnish plausible excuses. But when Mater was about to retire for the night, she found at the foot of her bed a pair of bright red, oriental slippers, much the worse for wear—a reproachful witness to our maligned landlord's truthfulness.
"Too bad we are not going to Berlin," commented Scoffy. "It would have been quite exciting to trace his highness' progress by his forgotten wearing apparel. With luck we might have found his diary, which I am sure he would write in `Ingleese.' "