THIS IS HAMBURG!
The history of the Altona Fish Auction Hall
The magistrate of the city of Altona built this hall on the embankment where the Elbe River fishermen docked, in answer to Hamburg's customs agreement with the Deutsche Reich, so as to to keep the fishing trade in Altona. The hall was modelled after the Roman market hall, a basilica with two aisles, a middle transept and crossing dome, from which the design of the Christian church arose. The steel construction made of 'Buddelstahl' (rust-free steel), is riveted together in simple shapes. From the axis of the hall, a pontoon bridge leads to a quay for eight steamboats. Numerous bronze fish decorated the crossing, with stained glass in the arches.
Forty-eight years later this beautiful industrial hall fell in flames during the bombing.
The bronze decorations had previously been melted down into driving bands for grenades. Now the dome was destroyed, the roof burned down. After the war, a makeshift roof was constructed, and the building was provisionally repaired. The auctions stopped in the mid 1950s, and the fishmongers, the offices in the gallery, the stands and the fish tanks below, the ramps inside and the outside additions followed. By the early 70s the hall stood empty and deteriorated into an eyesore. Demolition was imminent, with funds already allocated.
In 1978 the author of an urban planning report for the Fish Market area and flood control, suggested the restoration and release of the hall for market use. Four years later work was ready to begin. Old plans and photos from archives were used as references. The old adornments were redesigned by architects, modelled and cast. The dome, roof and gable had to be rebuilt. The dome's glazing is made of Makrolon. The stained glass at the crossing and the wall brackets for the Altona-lights were conceived by the architect.
Nowadays, the hall is an ideal and popular venue with a very special charm for both public and private events. On Sundays, early visitors frequent the Fish Market's stands in the hall, also in winter. The NDR-Talkshow brought many guests here, and the Hamburger Spediture and HHLA celebrated their anniversaries with 15,000 guests, inside and outside. The second Hamburger Bauforum had 140 domestic and international colleagues design projects for the neighbouring north bank of the Elbe River. Whoever uses this hall and experiences the passing day, observing through open gates the passing ocean liners, cannot help but be charmed.