Who we are and what we do

On August 22nd, 2009 two hundred people active in arts, politics, and social activities have entered the Gängeviertel in order to save it from decay and demolition, and to create in Hamburg's downtown an area with the aim to promote arts, culture, and talks, both in studios, in apartments, or in social projects.

Tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world have since come here to attend art exhibitions, concerts, and live readings or to discuss urban development. We have, in the meantime, suffered a long and hard winter and honed the concepts of how best to use the areas affected. At this moment of time, we are negotiating with the City of Hamburg the future of our quarter. It is meant to be a room free to everybody!

Each and every person is welcome to join us: as a visitor, as an active member, as a sponsor. We are many and our number is increasing daily.

We are the city because the city is all of us.

Your old and new 
 Gängeviertel.

 

 

 

To experience the Gängeviertel

Would you like to visit the good, old Gängeviertel? Do you want to wander through those dear old buildings together with us and discover the history and the future of this old quarter? Be our guests! Guided walks may be asked for under the email address rundgaenge(at)das-gaengeviertel.info. Soon enough there will be public walks every Sunday at 3 p.m. Meeting point for these activities is always the “Puppenstube” at Valentinskamp 39.

History – Past and yesterday

As late as the first half of the 20th century, the area of the Gängeviertel reached from the Harbour through the new town up into the old quarter of Hamburg and gave thousands of working-class families a home. But after 1892, just following the end of the Cholera epidemic, the City of Hamburg decided on an  urban renewal plan for these houses on the grounds of unacceptable hygienic conditions, and authorized their demolition. Major parts were destroyed during the Second World War or were later on removed to make room for the new Unilever highrise. Just a few remnants were forgotten and stood for many years along the Bäckerbreitergang, between Caffamacherreihe, Valentinskamp, and Speckstraße – birthplace of the composer Johannes Brahms. And there they still are, hurray!Before we entered this quarter, those old monumental remains have slowly decayed – while right next to them highrise buildings of steel and glass rose and offered room for offices and apartments. What a pity, the variable design of these old buildings would have been ideal to the aim of the city planners to mix working and living quarters in the middle of downtown. Instead of renovating or rebuilding the old houses, authorities decided to sell them in a bidding contest, thus enforcing the need to realize a high-yield. For some years, an investor tried to obtain building permits for his plans, and finally gave up in 2007 with a loss of 3 million Euros in planning costs.In 2008, the City accepted the purchase offer of the Dutch investor Hanzevast for the Gängeviertel. All remaining rental contracts were rescinded. According to official plans, the starting date for the demolition jobs was to be the summer of 2009. An estimated 80 % of the old historic buildings were to be destroyed.We have toppled these plans.

Today and tomorrow

Life has returned to the Gängeviertel. When we came here on August 22nd, 2009, the old buildings accepted us with open arms, and the inhabitants of Hamburg discovered a piece of old Hamburg right in the middle of downtown. More than 3,000 people came to celebrate with us on the first weekend. Our joy was increased considerably when we knew that Hamburg had re-purchased the Gängeviertel from the former investor, because this means that the path is clear for more life, work, culture, and social activities in the middle of Hamburg. In April of 2010 we presented an outline of the rebuilding and usage plan that we suggest to the City of Hamburg, and since then have been negotiating the realization with the competent authorities. 

Do you want to help us?

We’re glad if you do. There are various ways to get in touch: just drop in and help us on the spot with your work, your ideas or suggestions for improvement. Just address one of the friendly “Gängsters” who happen to be in the quarter. Another good tip is the info shop on Valentinskamp next to “Puppenstube”. Or write an email to support@das-gaengeviertel.info  Don’t despair if the answer should be a bit slow in coming – we’re trying our best to respond asap.We are in constant need for materials and tools to save the houses from further decay. Items currently high on the priority list are to found further down on this page. Anyone who would like to donate some of these things should just call us – we shall be pleased to come and get it, thank you!Last but not least: you may become a member of the association “Gängeviertel e.V.” or/and support it with your donations.. Should there be any doubts just write us an email to the address info(at)das-gaengevierte.info

According to a  press release dated December 17, 2010  the Association of the Gängeviertel has been formally established. As of today, every citizen of Hamburg may actively support the Gängeviertel quarter. The initiative “Komm in die Gänge” (get in your gears) has founded the cooperative “Gängeviertel eG” for the conservation of this historic quarter, in order to secure the future of this area independently from political changes.As of this very day, everybody and in particular all citizens of Hamburg are invited to join the cooperative as an investing member and to support the initiative “Komm in die Gänge” respectively the cooperative “Gängeviertel eG”. Shares of the cooperative are available at Euro 500 each plus an entrance fee of fifty euros. Persons interested in doing this may write an email to the following address: genossenschaft(at)das-gaengeviertel.info or send a letter to Gängeviertel eG, Valentinskamp 39, 20355 Hamburg in order to get further information.The establishment of this cooperative is a decisive step towards the conservation of this quarter as a public and alive place of culture, living, and working. Additionally, the planning staff of the initiative is ready to help with project and construction work, in particular with regard to the rules for urban conservation, so that these 12 houses may be conserved as part of Hamburg’s historic heritage. Thus, another stepping stone has been placed side by side with the club “Gängeviertel e.V.” with the aim to secure the future of this quarter. The Initiative’s main idea is to create and maintain living and working spaces that are socially acceptable as well as to offer large parts of the quarter to interested persons for the realization of their cultural and social projects. This mission should not be left exclusively to the City Council but should be filled with activities on the spot, while maintaining the support of the citizens of Hamburg with it. One thing must not be forgotten: Without the initiative “Komm in die Gänge” plus the friendly support and contribution of thousands of citizens these buildings would long have been sold to an investor and been demolished. 

The end of the path is still a long way off. We shall walk along it until we reach our common goal – an open, self-administered Gängeviertel!

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