Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Hamburg, a state of the German Empire, comprising an area of 158 square miles, and including the city of Hamburg and the towns of Bergedorf and Cuxhaven. The city of Hamburg stands on the north bank of the Elbe, about 75 miles from its mouth and 177 miles N.W. of Berlin. It was founded by Charlemagne in 808. In 1190 it received an imperial charter, granting it freedom from external jurisdiction and other privileges. It was one of the earliest members of the Hanseatic League (q.v.), and from the middle of the 13th century onwards rose rapidly in commercial importance. It was very active in suppressing piracy in the North Sea. in 1402 a great battle took place off Heligoland, in which the robber chieftain Stortebeker was defeated by Simon of Utrecht, a Hamburg alderman, whose grave, adorned with symbolical sculpture, remains outside St. Nicholas' church. Stortebeker's goblet, a yard and a half high, is also preserved among the local antiquities.

In 1510 Hamburg became an imperial town. During the 16th century it showed a disposition to break loose from the traditional policy of the League, which was ill ailapted to the altered conditions of the age. In 1567 it concluded an independent treaty with the English Merchant Adventurers, which, in spite of the opposition of the League and the Emperor, conduced greatly to the prosperity of the town. It was one of the three cities which continued to represent the Leeigue after the Thirty Years' War, although they had now lost most of their ancient privileges. The progress of Hamburg continued with little interruption until the early years of the 19th century. From 1806 to 1814 it was occupied by Napoleon's general Davout, who was besieged here by the Russians in 1814. Its trade, which had greatly declined during the French occupation, began to revive in 1815, when it joined the German Confederation. In 1842 a great part of the city was destroyed by fire. In 1888 Hamburg was compelled to join the German Zollverein, thereby losing its privileges as a free port. The part of the town which was rebuilt after the great fire contains many handsome houses, but the old town is composed of narrow and irregular streets, intersected by numerous waterways, which afford communication with the Elbe and its tributary the Alster. The ramparts enclosing the town are now laid out as public gardens and walks. Of the ancient buildings which survived the fire the most noteworthy is the church of St. Catherine, built in the 14th century. The other public buildings include the churches of St. Nicholas (designed by Sir Gilbert Scott) and St. Michael, both remarkable for their lofty spires, the town-house, the "schoolhouse" (comprising a large library and a natural history museum), the exchange, and the picture gallery. There is also an important school of navigation, to which an observatory is attached. The industries include sugar-refining, cigar-making, spirit-distilling, brewing, engineering, and shipbuilding. The importance of Hamburg is, however, almost entirely derived from its position as a great commercial centre. The dock accommodation at Cuxhaven has recently been improved, and, besides the Elbe, several new railways facilitate communication with the interior of Germany. The trade of Hamburg extends to all parts of the world, that with Great Britain being especially active. The chief article of commerce is coffee, next after which rank sugar, wine, spirits, tobacco, butter, hides, leather, and woollen and cotton goods. As a centre for the exchange of money its importance is second to that of London alone. "The population is largely composed of Jews. Hamburg has recently gained an evil notoriety as the place of embarkation for destitute aliens - mainly Jewish refugees from Russia and Roumania - bound for Great Britain and the United States. The emigration was, however, greatly checked by the severe outbreak of cholera which visited the town in 1892.