Altona, Hamburg

Altona (German: [ˈaltonaː] (About this soundlisten)) is the westernmost urban borough (Bezirk) of the German city state of Hamburg, on the right bank of the Elbe river. From 1640 to 1864 Altona was under the administration of the Danish monarchy. Altona was an independent city until 1937. In 2016 the population was 270,263.

Sol LeWitt, Black Form Dedicated to the Missing Jews, townhall Altona (Altona-Altstadt).
Sol LeWitt, Black Form Dedicated to the Missing Jews, townhall Altona (Altona-Altstadt).
Coat of arms of Altona
Boroughs of Hamburg
Boroughs of Hamburg.jpg
Altona is located in Germany
Altona is located in Hamburg
Coordinates: 53°33′0″N 9°56′0″E / 53.55000°N 9.93333°E / 53.55000; 9.93333Coordinates: 53°33′0″N 9°56′0″E / 53.55000°N 9.93333°E / 53.55000; 9.93333
Subdivisions13 quarters
 • Total77.5 km2 (29.9 sq mi)
 • Total270,263
 • Density3,500/km2 (9,000/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
Dialling codes040
Vehicle registrationHH
The Dockland at the harbor
Memorial of the Prussian Regiments (IR31, RIR31 and L31)


Altona was founded in 1535 as a village of fishermen in then Holstein-Pinneberg. In 1640, Altona came under Danish rule as part of Holstein-Glückstadt, and in 1664 received city rights from Danish King Frederik III, who then ruled in personal union as Duke of Holstein. Altona was one of the Danish monarchy's most important harbor towns. The railroad from Altona to Kiel, the Hamburg-Altona–Kiel railway (Danish: Christian VIII Østersø Jernbane), was opened in 1844.

Because of severe restrictions on the number of Jews allowed to live in Hamburg until 1864 (with the exception of 1811–1815),[1] a major Jewish community developed in Altona starting in 1611, when Count Ernest of Schaumburg and Holstein-Pinneberg granted the first permanent residence permits to Ashkenazic Jews.[2] Members did business both in Hamburg and in Altona itself. All that remains after the Nazi Holocaust during World War II are the Jewish cemeteries, but in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, the community was a major center of Jewish life and scholarship. Holstein-Pinneberg and later Danish Holstein had lower taxes and placed fewer civil impositions on their Jewish community than did the government of Hamburg.

The wars between Denmark and the German Confederation—the First Schleswig War (1848–1851) and the Second Schleswig War (February – October 1864)—and the Gastein Convention of 1864, led to Denmark's cession of the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein to Prussian administration and Lauenburg to Austrian administration. Along with all of Schleswig-Holstein, Altona became part of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1867.

In 1871 Altona became a part of the German Empire. In the same year the city was hit by cholera, with a minimum of 16 casualties in Altona.[3]

During the Weimar era following World War I, the city of Altona was disturbed by major labor strikes and street disorders. Inflation in Germany was a major problem. In 1923 Max Brauer, the mayor of Altona, directed that city personnel be paid in part with gas meter tokens, as these coins did not lose value from inflation.[4] The most notable event at this time is the Altona Bloody Sunday (German: Altonaer Blutsonntag) on 17 July 1932, when several persons were shot by the police force which was providing security for a demonstration of Nazi groups. After police raids and a special court, on 1 August 1933, Bruno Tesch and others were found guilty and put to death by beheading with a hand-held axe.[5][6] In the 1990s, the Federal Republic of Germany reversed the convictions of Tesch and the other men who were put to death, clearing their names.

The Greater Hamburg Act removed Altona from the Free State of Prussia in 1937 and merged it (and several surrounding cities) with the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg in 1938.

On 1 February 2007 the Ortsämter (precincts) in Hamburg were dissolved. In Altona the precincts of Blankenese, Lurup and Osdorf had existed and had local offices. On 1 March 2008 the Schanzenviertel neighborhood, which had spanned across parts of the boroughs of Altona, Eimsbüttel and Hamburg-Mitte, became the Sternschanze quarter, the entirety of which is now in the Altona borough.[7]


Aerial view of Altona from the South. In the foreground the Elbe quays.

The border of Altona to the south is the River Elbe, and across the river the state Lower Saxony and the boroughs Harburg and Hamburg-Mitte. To the east is the borough Hamburg-Mitte and to the north is the borough Eimsbüttel. The western border is with the state of Schleswig-Holstein. According to the statistical office of Hamburg, the area of Altona is 77.5 km2 or 29.9 sq mi in 2006.


Politically, the following quarters (German: Stadtteile) are part of Altona borough:

  1. Altona-Altstadt
  2. Altona-Nord
  3. Bahrenfeld
  4. Ottensen
  5. Othmarschen (including parts of Klein Flottbek)
  6. Groß Flottbek
  7. Osdorf
  8. Lurup
  9. Nienstedten (including parts of Klein Flottbek)
  10. Blankenese
  11. Iserbrook
  12. Sülldorf
  13. Rissen
  14. Sternschanze


In 2018 Altona had a population of 274,702 people. 18.0% are children under the age of 18 and 17.9% are 65 years of age or older. 16.2% are immigrants. 5.0% of people are registered as unemployed. In 2018 53,4% of all households are single-person households.

There are 195 kindergartens and 31 primary schools in Altona as well as 879 physicians in private practice, 254 dentists and 60 pharmacies.[8]


Simultaneously with elections to the state parliament (Bürgerschaft), the Bezirksversammlung is elected as representatives of the citizens. It consists of 51 representatives.


Elections were held in Hamburg on 20 February 2011. The five parties having more than 5 percent in recent polls (minimum to qualify) are the centrist CDU, the social-democratic SPD, the ecologist Green Party (GAL), the left-wing Die Linke and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP).


Altona Bahnhof (railway station) in 1971. Buses, streetcars, trains and S-Bahn trains all met at this spot.

Altona is the location of a major railway station, Hamburg-Altona, connecting the Hamburg S-Bahn with the regional railways and local bus lines.

The A 7 autobahn passes through Altona borough.

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt), in Altona 87,131 private cars were registered (359 cars per 1000 people).[9]

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Hamburg. "In 1619 ... it was agreed that, in consideration of a payment made for their protection, the Jews should be tolerated in the town as strangers, though they were not to be allowed to practice their religion publicly". "In 1648 the council of aldermen issued an order expelling the German Jews ["Hochdeutsche Juden"] from the town. They moved to Altona, and were required to pay a monthly tax". "In 1697 the freedom of religious practice which the congregation had obtained was disturbed by hostile edicts of the aldermen, and the Jews were extortionately taxed. On this account many of the rich and important Portuguese Jews left Hamburg, some of them laying the foundation of the Portuguese congregation of Altona." (Jewish Encyclopedia)
  2. ^ Lowenthal, Marvin (1977), The Memoirs of Glückel of Hameln, New York: Shocken Books, pp. 5–10, ISBN 978-0-8052-0572-5
  3. ^ "Colera", The New York Times, 1871-08-31
  4. ^ Verg, Erich; Verg, Martin (2007), Das Abenteuer das Hamburg heißt (in German) (4th ed.), Hamburg: Ellert&Richter, p. 158, ISBN 978-3-8319-0137-1
  5. ^ "Back to the Axe!", Time, 1933-08-14, archived from the original on May 16, 2008, retrieved 2008-08-14
  6. ^ Stolpersteine in Hamburg |url=
  7. ^ Act of the area organisation
  8. ^ Source: statistical office Nord of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein (2018)
  9. ^ Source: statistical office Nord of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein (2006)
  10. ^ Fock, Gustave; Hamburgs Anteil am Orgelbau im niederdeutschen Kulturgebiet (Hamburg's share in organ building in the Low German cultural area) 1939 p.369 (online)


External linksEdit