“Public pleasure culture in the port city of Hamburg, 1890s – 1960s” by Alina L Just

Coloured postcard from the Star Club Hamburg. The wide room is densely filled with people, in the foreground several groups are sitting at tables. Behind them, most people are standing and looking towards the stage. A band is playing there. Different coloured lanterns hang from the flat ceiling. The postcard is inscribed in German with "Greetings from the Star-Club Hamburg".
Post card from famous Star-Club in St. Pauli, 1960s. Universität Hamburg, Arbeitsstelle für Hamburgische Geschichte, Hans-Werner Engels Collection.

Based on an initial pan-Hamburg mapping of major entertainment venues (see below), Alina Just zooms in specific Hamburg pleasurescapes between the 1890s and the 1960s to explore the relations between spatial urban configuration and alternate social appropriation. Key questions of hers are: Which infrastructures and spatial conditions facilitated the establishment of urban landscapes of pleasure in Hamburg since the turn of the 20thcentury? How did political and economic strategies of urban planning interfere with public pleasure culture or, vice versa, how did early entertainment entrepreneurs shape urban development actively? Which program offers and audiences circled in which areas and locations of public pleasures and how did this influence the image and reputation of specific quarters? Case studies delve into the Hamburg neighborhoods of St. Pauli, Veddel, Rothenburgsort and Billwerder, as well as an amusement park in the formerly neighboring city of Altona.

Black and white postcard of August Schwaff's excursion restaurant on the Veddel. You can see the three-storey building with the garden in front of it. In front of the building are several people and three large trees without leaves. The card is printed in German with the inscription: "Elbinsel Peute, Hamburg. Summer establishment. Owner: August Schwaff."
Post card from August Schwaff’s garden restaurant in Veddel, 1904-1910. Veddel-Archive, Dieter Thal Collection.
The picture shows the entrance to Luna Park at night. Several lanterns illuminate the night scene. The entrance gate consists of three small towers that together form a building. In the middle and largest tower is the passageway with the inscription "LUNA PARK". To the right and left of it are smaller passages under the connecting roofs to the other towers. A few people are standing in front of the entrance gate. On the left edge of the picture is a car with its headlights on.
Photo of Luna Park entrance in Altona, 1913-1914. Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Plankammer, 720-1_151-03=15_00051.

„Mapping Pleasure“ by Laurenz Gottstein and Alina L Just

Laurenz Gottstein and Alina L Just have conducted a comprehensive mapping of historical address data to identify Hamburg’s pleasurescapes of the past. The maps visualize the spatial entertainment hub of Reeperbahn that evolved in proximity to the port and its maritime practices, but they also shed light on largely forgotten entertainment quarters from the early 1900s. Eventually, we see how entertainment structures mirror the different historical stages of urban development, and that Hamburg’s cityscape of pleasure culture used to be much more diversified.  

Pleasurescapes in Hamburg 1910

Pleasurescapes in Hamburg 1925

Pleasurescapes in Hamburg 1935

To determine the addresses and locations, we used the historical address books from 1910, 1925 and 1935. The Hamburg State Library has digitised these and published them online: https://agora.sub.uni-hamburg.de/subhh-adress/digbib/start.

The names of the categories are based on the original terms in the address books. With the help of historical maps and street directories we placed the points as accurately as possible. Because many street names have changed since 1910, the addresses given here may be confusing. They reflect the official status at that time.

To learn about the full methodological background of Laurenz‘ and Alina’s mapping project, please read their article on the PortCityFutures-Blog!