Eschenheimer Tower, Frankfurt, c.1890

‘Eschenheimer Turm, Frankfurt’

G. J. a Paris

c.1890

Frankfurt turm

The Eschenheimer Tower is the last surviving gateway from Frankfurt’s medieval fortifications. The 47m tower was constructed in the early 15th century. As can be seen in the stereograph, the street used to run directly under the tower but now it goes around the side. The area was largely destroyed during World War Two but the tower survived and is now the oldest and least-altered medieval structure in Frankfurt’s old city centre. The people and cart in the distance must’ve moved during the photographic exposure as they shuttle from one side of the street to the other.

Frankfurt across the Main, c.1905

‘Frankfurt am Main – View towards the city from Sachsenhausen’

Neue Photographische Gesellschaft

c.1905

frankfurt river view

The stereograph shows the view across the River Main towards Frankfurt’s city centre. The tall tower on the right belonged to St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral. I’m not sure what they’re up to in the foreground.

Saalgasse, Frankfurt: Before & After World War Two

Raumbild-Verlag

c.1935

frankfurt saalgasse before

Raumbild-Verlag

c.1946

frankfurt saalgasse after

The stereoraphs show the small square at the top of Saalgasse, the narrow lane seen disappearing in the background. On the south side of the square once stood the Holy Ghost Hospital until its demolition in 1840. The hospital was commemorated in the Holy Ghost water fountain which stood in the square, visible in both stereoviews, and which was topped with a Rococo statue of Virtue. The two large houses on the far left were built in the 16th century and were known as The Three Fishes. In 1772 the one on the right was owned by a butcher for whom Goethe won his first case during his short-lived career as a lawyer. The Saalgase and all its ancient houses was destroyed in 1944 but the statue in the centre was salvaged. The area has since been rebuilt in a Post-Modernist style.

The Hühnermarkt, Frankfurt: Before & After World War Two

Raumbild-Verlag

c.1935

frankfurt poultry market before

Raumbild-Verlag

c.1946

frankfurt poultry market after

The two stereoviews show the Hühnermarkt (Poultry Market) in Frankfurt’s medieval altstadt. It lay between the Römer (the 14th century town hall), and the cathedral, part of a dense network of squares and roads which dated back to the Middle Ages. The Hühnermarkt was surrounded by houses on all sides, many of which were medieval in origin with altered Baroque facades. One of these, known as the Esslinger House, belonged to Goethe’s uncle. A tiny part of it is just visible to the very far left in the first stereograph. In the centre of the square was a public water fountain with a bust of Friedrich Stolze, a 19th century novelist and poet born at a nearby house. The Hühnermarkt was completely destroyed during an air-raid in 1944 along with the vast majority of Frankfurt’s ancient city centre, although the bust of Stolze was later salvaged and re-erected elsewhere in the city. The old street plan was obliterated during post-war reconstruction but, at this very moment, work is underway to reinstate the Hühnermarkt along with several of its surrounding buildings. One of the houses to be reconstructed is the Esslinger House. Other reconstructions are planned for completion by 2016, a remarkable example of how historical architecture can linger in the collective memory to such an extent that people feel compelled to recreate it over seventy years after it was destroyed (a similar scheme has been in progress at Dresden since the late 1980s).

Die Goethehaus, Frankfurt, c.1880

Großer Hirschgraben

Theodore Creifelds

c.1880

frankfurt goethe haus

The stereoview shows Großer Hirschgraben in Frankfurt c.1880. Like so many late 19th century European stereoviews, the image doesn’t particularly work as an animated gif as there’s nothing in the foreground to provide a sense of depth. Initally at least, American photoographers were much better at exploiting the possibilities of stereoscopy than their European colleagues who tended to rely on conventional compositions. The large house nearest the viewer was the birthplace of Goethe in 1749, his grandmother having bought the house in 1733. It was a late medieval structure with a Baroque facade added in the 18th century. All of the properties on the street, including the Goethe House, were completely destroyed during an air-raid on 22 March 1944, the anniversary of Goethe’s death. After the war the house was reconstructed as an exact replica and is today a museum.

Judengasse, Frankfurt, c.1875

‘Judengasse, Frankfurt’

Theodore Creifelds

c.1875

judengasse frankfurt

This was the centre of the Jewish ghetto in Frankfurt from 1462 until the ghetto was abolished at the end of the 18th century. Many of the houses  on the right were demolished at the end of the 19th century and those that remained were destroyed during World War Two. One of these was the ancestral home of the Rothschild family, the building to the left with the white drainpipe running down the facade: the 17th century  ‘House of the Red Shield’. The stereoview shows what much of Frankfurt ‘s city centre looked like prior to World War Two.  Of the 30,000 Jews who lived in Frankfurt in 1933 only 603 remained in 1945. Those who hadn’t emigrated were sent to concentration camps at Dachau and Burchenwald.