Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Frankfort-on-the-Main
|1.||Bethmann’s Museum.||16.||Cathedral and Dom Platz.|
|2.||Bethmann’s Monument.||17.||St Paul’s Church and Platz.|
|3.||Hessian Monument.||18.||Goethe’s House.|
|4.||Senckenberg Museum.||19.||Städel Institute.|
|5.||Taxis Palace.||20.||Römer or Townhouse.|
|6.||Barracks.||21.||St Leonard’s Church.|
|7.||Schiller’s Monument.||22.||Saalhof (Picture Gallery).|
|9.||St Catherine’s Church.||24.||Strangers’ Hospital.|
|11.||Goethe’s Monument and Platz.||26.||Bank.|
|12.||French Reformed Church.||27.||German Reformed Church.|
|13.||Gutenberg’s Museum.||A.||Jews’ Market and Infirmary.|
|14,||15. Barracks.||B.||Liebfrauenberg and Cathedral.|
Hardly any fact about Frankfort is more familiar to the reader of Goethe than that it has an old bridge over the Main, and that on the bridge there has been for centuries an iron crucifix surmounted by a somewhat insignificant figure of a cock, commemorating, according to tradition, the unfortunate fowl which first crossed the bridge, and thus fell a prey to the devil who, in hope of a nobler victim, had sold his assistance to the original architect. The first distinct mention of a bridge over the river occurs in 1222, and the present structure dates from the 14th century. As late at least as 1475 the central span was not arched over. There are now fourteen arches in all, the total length of the bridge being 869 feet. The cock and crucifix are mentioned as early as 1405, and antiquaries assert that it probably marks the spot where criminals in the olden time were flung into the river. About half a mile below the old bridge a new bridge, called the “Unter-Main Brücke,” was constructed by P. Schmick, between 1872 and 1874; and about midway between the two lies the footbridge or “Steg,” erected by the same engineer in 1868-69, and the first example of its kind in Germany. The “Ober-Main” or Upper-Main Bridge was opened to traffic in the spring of 1878. Several other bridges for railway purposes are projected.
Few cities of the same size as Frankfort are so richly furnished with literary, scientific, and artistic institutions, or possess so many handsome buildings appropriated to their service. The town theatre was built between 1780 and 1827 in a Dutch-French style, and was restored in 1855; and as it has proved too small for the wants of the people, a new opera house has been erected near the Bockenheim gate, after the plans of Professor Lucä of Berlin. There is a public picture-gallery in the Saalhof, containing works by Hans Holbein, Grünewald, Vandyck, Teniers, Van der Neer, Hans von Culmbach, Lucas Cranach, Martin Schön, &c. The nucleus of the collection is of very ancient date; considerable additions were made in 1803 at the secularization of the monasteries; in 1839 Ernst Fr. K. Prehn's cabinet of more than 850 small oil-paintings was presented by his heirs, and 220 that had belonged to Johann G. Chr. Daems were added in 1856, in terms of his bequest. The Städel Art Institute (Städel'sche Kunst-Institut) takes its name from Johann Friedrich Städel, who not only left his collection of paintings, engravings, and other property to the town, but appropriated a million marks to the erection of an institute and college. Its picture gallery and cabinet of engravings are both extremely rich in works of German art: the latter in 1874 had 54,300 plates. In the town library, which is kept in a building erected between 1820 and 1825, there are upwards of 100,000 volumes; and among its rarer treasures are a Gutenberg Bible printed at Mainz between 1450 and 1455, another on parchment dated 1462, the Institutiones Justiniani, Mainz, 1468, the Thener-Dank, with woodcuts by Hans Scheufelein, Abyssinian manuscripts presented by the African traveller Rüppel, and autographs of Luther, Melanchthon, Wallenstein, Napoleon I., Goethe, Schiller, &c. The Bethmann Museum owes its celebrity principally to Dannecker's Ariadne, but it also possesses the original plaster model of Thorwaldsen's Entrance of Alexander the Great into Babylon. Among the scientific institutions perhaps the chief place belongs to those named after J. Chr. Senckenberg, the physician. Senckenberg himself founded both the Bürger or citizens hospital and the medical institute, with an anatomical theatre, botanical garden, and library; and a society of natural science (Senckenbergsche Naturforschende Gesellschaft) was instituted in his honour in 1817, and now possesses an extensive and valuable museum. Large gardens were opened for the patients of the citizens hospital in 1851, and in 1875 new buildings were added. A physical association was founded in 1824, an association for geography and statistics in 1836, a medical association in 1845, the association for history and archæology in 1857, and the free German institute for science, art, and general culture in 1859. An association for the cultivation of classical and especially of church music (the Cäcilien-Verein) was instituted by Schelble in 1818, and a similar association (the Rühl'sche Verein) by Rühl in 1851; and there are several other musical unions, such as the Philharmonische Verein, the Liederkranz, &c. In 1858 a zoological garden was opened by a joint stock company near the Bockenheim Road; and in 1873 it was transferred to a new site on the Pfingstweide or Pentecost Meadow, and assigned to a new company. When in 1868 the duke of Nassau offered the plants of his winter garden for sale, a company, the Palm Garden Company, was formed at Frankfort, which purchased the collection, and established what is now the most beautiful of all the pleasure-grounds in the city.
Besides the Bürger Hospital already mentioned, Frankfort has several large institutions for the sick and infirm. The Holy Ghost Hospital, originally founded in 1278 for invalid pilgrims, is now appropriated to the servants and apprentices of Frankfort citizens. Its convalescent hospital, opened in 1868 at the Mainkur, was the first establishment of the kind in Germany. It maintains in each of the fourteen quarters of the town a physician, a surgeon, and an apothecary for the gratuitous assistance of the poor. The new asylum for the insane, with room for 200 patients, was erected between 1859 and 1863, partly by public subscription, and partly by a donation of 100,000 florins from Herr von Wiesenhütten. For its deaf and dumb institution the town is indebted to Ludwig Kosel, who in 1827 started with three pupils; and it was at his suggestion that the blind asylum was established by the society for the furtherance of the useful arts. The Waisenhaus or orphan asylum erected in 1829 is no longer employed for its original purpose, as it has since 1860 been thought better to board the orphan children with families in the neighbouring villages of Lich, Wächtersbach, &c. It is sufficient to mention the Jewish infirmary, built at the expense of the Rothschilds; the new Jewish hospital, erected in 1874; Dr Christ's children's hospital, originated in 1835; and the maternity hospital, opened in 1855. Among thenumerous associations for benevolent purposes are the Frauen-Verein or ladies union, founded in 1813 for the assistance of sick families and women in childbed; the Jewish ladies union for the education of orphan girls; the association originated in 1851 for taking charge of infants during the working hours; the Pestalozzi union (1846) for the education of neglected children, and its auxiliary the Schuboth institute for Protestant boys (1865); the prison association, dating from 1868; and the Martha asylum, dating from 1866.
Frankfort has always been much more of a commercial than an industrial town, and at present it manufactures little else but Frankfort black, waxcloth, jewellery, gold and silver thread, tapestry, and such like articles. Bockenheim, however, a small town with which it is connected by tramway lines, is a flourishing manufacturing centre; and the Frankfort capitalists are connected with the industrial enterprises of Wiesbaden, Hanau, Offenbach, &c. There are two great fairs held in the town,—the Ostermesse or spring fair, and the Herbstmesse or autumn fair. The former, which was the original nucleus of all the commercial prosperity of the city, begins on the second Wednesday before Easter; and the latter on the second Wednesday before the 8th of September. They last three weeks, and the last day save one, called the Nickelchestag, is distinguished by the influx of people from the neighbouring country. The trade in leather is of great and growing importance. A horse fair has been held twice a year since 1862 under the patronage of the agricultural society; and the wool market was reinstituted in 1872 by the German Trade Society. Frankfort has long been famous as one of the principal banking centres of Europe; and throughout the city there are upwards of 220 banking offices. The so-called “Frankfort Bank” was founded in 1854, with a capital of 10,000,000 gulden. The exchange occupies a building opposite the Paulskirche, erected since 1840 according to the plans of Stüler of Berlin; and it is remarkable for the large business that is done in Government stock. In the 17th century the town was the seat of a great book-trade; but it has long been distanced in this department by Leipsic. The Frankfurter Journal was founded in 1615, the Postzeitung in 1616, the Neue Frankfurter Zeitung in 1859, and the Frankfurter Presse in 1866. The zoological garden company publish a monthly magazine devoted to the popularization of natural history; and the Senckenberg society have issued Transactions since 1854-5.
There are four railway stations in Frankfort: by the Weser station the traveller leaves for Nauheim and Cassel, for Homburg, for Kronberg, and the north generally; from the Taunus station he proceeds along the right bank of the river to Mainz; from the Neckar station he leaves for Darmstadt and the south, and for Mainz by the line along the left bank of the river; and from the Hanau station he proceeds eastwards. In Sachsenhausen there is the Offenbach-Hanau station. The Neckar railway crosses the river by a bridge erected in 1846-48, which is also used by the Offenbach and the “Linksmainisch” lines. Several other bridges across the river are projected in connexion with the scheme for centralizing the railway systems. Communication within the town is facilitated by tramways; and there is also a line all the way to Bockenheim.
Frankfort has been the birthplace of not a few of the most celebrated men of Germany. J. G. Schlosser the his torian, Feuerbach the philosopher, Kirchner the scholar and naturalist, Clement Brentano, Bettina vou Arnim, and Ludwig Börne, are all in the list; but what the city considers its highest literary distinction is the fact that Johann Wolfgang Goethe was born in 1749 at No. 23 Hirschgraben. In 1863 the house was purchased for 56,000 florins by the Free German “Hochstift” (or Grand Association) for the sciences, arts, and general culture, and thus made for ever the common property of the German people. The society consists of members in all parts of the world, associated by admiration of the poet. Under the direction of Otto Volga the house has been as much as possible put into the state in which it was in Goethe's youth; and at the same time the rooms are turned into so many little museums of Goethe literature and art. On the high grounds to the south of the river there is a spot, now known as the Gothe Ruhe, or Goethe's Rest, where the poet is said to have admired the prospect of his native town, and there a tasteful wooden tower in the Swiss châlet style was built in 1877 by the Verschönerungs-Verein, or association for the beautifying of the city. The Goethe statue was erected in 1844 in what is now the Goethe Platz to the north of the Rossmarkt; it was designed by Schwanthaler, and cast in the royal foundry at Munich.
Of memorial monuments the largest and most elaborate in Frankfort is that erected in 1858 in honour of the early German printers. It was modelled by Ed. von der Lausitz and executed by Herr von Kreis. The statues of Gutenberg, Fust, and Schöffer form a group on the top; an ornamented frieze presents medallions of a number of famous printers; below these are figures representing the towns of Mainz, Strasburg, Venice, and Frankfort; and on the corners of the pedestal are allegorical statues of theology, poetry, science, and industry. The Schiller statue, erected in 1863, is the work of a Frankfort artist, Dielmann. A monument in the Bockenheim Anlage, dated 1837, preserves the memory of Guiollet, the burgomaster, to whom the town is mainly indebted for the beautiful promenades which occupy the site of the old fortification; and similar monuments have been reared to Senckenberg (1863), Bethmann, and Wiesenhütten. A statue of Charlemagne adorns the old Main bridge.
The new cemetery (opened in 1828) contains the graves of Arthur Schopenhauer and Feuerbach, of Passavant the biographer of Raphael, Ballenberger the artist, Hessemer the architect, Sömmerring the naturalist, Dr Böhmer, and Städel. The Bethmann vault attracts attention by three bas-reliefs from the chisel of Thorwaldsen; and the Reichenbach mausoleum is a vast pile designed by Hessemer at the command of William II. of Hesse, and adorned with sculptures by Zwerger and Von der Lausitz. In the Jewish section, which is walled off from the rest of the burying-ground, the most remarkable tombs are those of the Rothschild family.
The present municipal constitution of the town dates from 1867, and conforms to the Prussian system. The electors choose 54 representatives for a term of 6 years; and every two years a third of the number retire, but are eligible for re-election. The 54 representatives elect twelve town councillors, six of whom receive a salary and serve for 12 years, while the rest receive no salary and serve for 6 years. The chief burgomaster is nominated by the king for 12 years, and the second burgomaster must receive the king s recognition. Since 1873 the town has been supplied with water from the Vogelsberg and the Spessart by the Frankfurter Quellwasserleitung Gesellschaft at the rate of about a million cubic feet per day, the natural pressure being sufficient to carry the water to the highest stories. The population of Frankfort has continued almost steadily to increase since the beginning of the century, the yearly percentage varying from 0.1 in 1843 to 8.9 in 1872. In 1817 the civil population was 41,458; in 1840, 55,269; in 1849, 58,599; in 1855, 63,495; and in 1864, 77,372. The events of 1866 led to a decline, and in 1867 the number was only 75,918. By 1871 it had again risen to 89,265; in 1872 it was 97,230; in 1873, 102,680; and in 1875, 103,136. Including the suburban villages (Bornheim 10,085, Bockenheim 13,043, Oberrad 4609, and Rödelheim 3903), the total is 134,776.
History.—Though the Romans certainly had settlements in the valley of the Main, as at Mattiacum (Wiesbaden) and Novus Vicus (Heddernheim), there is no proof that the site of Frankfort was permanently occupied before the arrival of the Franks, from whom it derives its name. Father Fuchs of Mainz, indeed, asserted in the end of the 18th century that he had epigraphic evidence for the statement that Frankfort was founded by the Romans in the 2d century of the Christian era, and that by the 3d century it had become a great fortified city; but unfortunately none of the inscriptions to which he referred have ever been shown to exist. Popular tradition connects the origin of the town with the history of Charlemagne, asserting that the name Frankfort is due to the fact that once, when he was retreating from the Saxons, he and his Frankish army were safely conducted across the river by a doe, and that Sachsenhausen was so called because he settled there a colony of the Saxons whom he had subdued. The first truly historical notice of the town occurs in 793, when Eginhard, Charlemagne's biographer, tells us that he spent the winter in the villa Frankonovurd. Next year there is mention more than once of a royal palace there, and the early importance of the place is indicated by the fact that it was chosen as the seat of an ecclesiastical council, which was attended not only by German but by French and Italian bishops, as well as by two papal legates. The name Frankfort is also found in several official documents of Charlemagne's reign; and from the notices that occur in the early chronicles and charters it would appear that the place was the most populous at least of the numerous villages of the Main district. During the Carlovingian period it was the seat of no fewer than 16 imperial councils or colloquies. The town was probably at first built on an island in the river. It was
originally governed by a royal officer or actor dominicus, and down even to the close of the empire it remained a purely imperial or royal town. It gradually acquired various privileges, and by the close of the 14th century the only mark of dependence was the payment of a yearly tax. Louis the Pious dwelt even more frequently at Frankfort than his father had done, and about 823 he built himself a new palace, the basis of the later Saalhof. In 822 and 823 two great diets were held in the palace, and at the former there were present deputies from the eastern Slavs, the Avars, and the Normans. The place continued to be a favourite residence with Louis the German, and he died there in 876. By the rest of the Carlovingian kings it was less frequently visited, and this neglect was naturally greater during the period of the Saxon and Salic emperors from 908 to 1137. Diets, however, were held in the town in 951, 1015, 1069, and 1109, and councils in 1000 and 1006. From a privilege of Henry IV, in 1074, granting the city of Worms freedom from tax in their trade with several royal cities, it appears that Frankfort was even then a place of some commercial importance. In 1217 we find mention made of an imperial mint and a corn market in the town. About 1227 it was already in possession of a yearly fair. Between 1140 and the beginning of the interregnum it saw 21 diets, and that of 1142 gave rise to the Guelph and Ghibelline parties. No fewer than 10 new churches were erected in the 50 years from 1220 to 1270. It was about the same period, probably in 1240, that the Jews first settled in the town. In the contest which Louis the Bavarian maintained with the papal throne Frankfort sided with the emperor, and it was consequently placed under an interdict for 20 years from 1329 to 1349. On Louis's death it refused to accept the papal conditions of pardon, and only yielded to Charles IV., the papal elect, when Günther of Schwarzburg thought it more prudent to abdicate in his favour. Charles granted the city a full amnesty, and confirmed its liberties and privileges. By the famous bull of 1356, called by way of distinction the Golden Bull, or, after the emperor, Bulla Carolina, Frankfort is declared the seat of the imperial elections (Wahlstadt Reiches), and it still preserves an official contemporaneous copy of the original document as the most precious of the eight imperial bulls in its possession. In the 17th and 18th centuries, says Kriegk, the bull was regarded as the most notable sight of the city, and was only exhibited to persons of high rank. From the date of the bull to the close of the empire, Frankfort retained the position of “Wahlstadt,” and only five of the two-and-twenty monarchs who ruled during that period were elected elsewhere. In 1388-89 Frankfort assisted the South-German towns in their wars with the princes and nobles, and in a consequent battle with the troops of the Palatinate, the town banner was lost and carried to Kronberg, where it was long preserved as a trophy. On peace being concluded in 1391, the town had to pay 12,562 florins, and this brought it into great financial difficulties. In the course of the next 50 years debt was contracted to the amount of 126,772 florins. The diet at Worms in 1495 chose Frankfort as the seat of the newly instituted Imperial Chamber, or “Reichskammergericht,” for the settlement of discussions between the different states of the empire; and it was not till 1527 that the chamber was removed to Spires. At the Reformation Frankfort heartily joined the Protestant party, and in consequence it was hardly treated both by the emperor Charles V. and by the archbishop of Mainz. It refused to subscribe the Augsburg Recess, but at the same time it was not till 1536 that it was prevailed to join the Smalkaldic League. On the failure of this confederation it opened its gates of its own accord to the imperial general Büren on 29th Dec. 1546, although he had passed by the city, which he considered too strong for the forces under his command. The emperor was merciful enough to leave it in possession of its privileges, but he inflicted a fine of 80,000 gold gulden, and the citizens had to endure till Oct. 1547 the presence of from 8000 to 10,000 soldiers. This resulted in a pestilence which not only lessened the population but threatened to give the death blow to the great annual fairs; and at the close of the war it was found that it had cost the city no less than 228,931 gulden. In 1522 Frankfort was invested for three weeks by Maurice of Saxony, who was still in arms against the emperor, but it continued to hold out till peace was concluded between the principal combatants. Between 1612 and 1616 occurred the great Fettmilch insurrection, perhaps the most remarkable episode in the internal history of Frankfort. The magistracy had been acquiring more and more the character of an oligarchy; all power was practically in the hands of a few closely-related families; and the gravest peculation and malversation took place without hindrance. The ordinary citizens were roused to assert their rights, and they found leaders in Fettmilch, Gerngross, and Schopp, who carried the contest to dangerous excesses, but lacked ability to bring it to a successful issue. An imperial commission was ultimately appointed, and the three principal culprits and several of their associates were executed in 1616, with the barbarous devices of the times. It was not till 1801 that the last mouldering head of the Fettmilch company dropped unnoticed from that old tower which, from its position near the bridge, is known as the Brückenthurm. In the words of Dr Kriegk, who has furnished a detailed history of the whole period, the insurrection completely destroyed the political power of the guilds, gave new strength to the supremacy of the patriciate, and brought no further advantage to the rest of the citizens than a few improvements in the organization and administration of the magistracy. The Jews, who had been attacked by the popular party, were solemnly reinstated by imperial command in all their previous privileges, and received full compensation for their losses. During the Thirty Years War Frankfort did not escape. In 1631 Gustavus Adolphus garrisoned it with 600 men, who remained in possession till they were expelled four years later by the imperial general Lamboy. In 1792 the citizens had to pry 2,000,000 gulden to the French general Custine; and in 1796 Kleber bombarded the town, and exacted 8,000,000 francs. The independence of Frankfort was brought to an end in 1806, on the formation of the Confederation of the Rhine; and in 1810 it was made the capital of a grand-duchy of Frankfort, which had an area of 3215 square miles, with 302,100 inhabitants, and was divided into the four districts of Frankfort, Aschaffenburg, Fulda, and Hanau. On the reconstitution of Germany in 1815 it again became a free city, and in the following year it was declared the seat of the German Confederation. In April 1833 occurred what is known as the Frankfort Riot (Frankfurter Attentat), in which a number of German students, assisted by the peasants of the vicinity, attempted to break up the diet. The city joined the German Zollverein in 1836. During the revolutionary period of 1848 the people of Frankfort took a chief part in political movements, and the streets of the town wore more than once the scene of conflict. In the war of 1866 they were on the Austrian side. On the 16th of July the Prussian troops, under General Vogel von Falkenstein, entered the town, and on the 8th of October it was formally incorporated with the Prussian state. A fine of 6,000,000 florins was exacted. In 1871 the treaty which concluded the Franco- German war was signed in the Swan Hotel by Prince Bismarck and Jules Favre, and it is consequently known as the Frankfort Peace.
See Böhmer, Urkundenbuch der Reichsstadt Frankfurt, 1836; Kirchner, Geschichte der Stadt Frankfurt, 1807-1810; Feyerlein, Nachträge, etc., zur Geschichte Frankfurts, 1819; Tableau historique et topographique de Francfort, Frankfort, 1828; Mittheilungen über Physisch-geographische, . . . . Verhältnisse von Frankfurt am Main, 1839-41; Krug, Historisch-topogr. Beschreibung von Frankfurt, 1845; Meidinger, Statistische Uebersicht, 1841, and Zur Statistik Frankfurts, 1848. Battoun, Oertliche Beschreibung der Stadt Frankfurt, 1861, and Kaiserdom zu Frankfurt, 1869; Kriegk, Geschichte von Frankfurt, 1871; Archiv für Frankfurts Geschichte und Kunst, 1839-1874; Stricker, Neuere Geschichte von Frankfurt, 1874-75; the Mittheilungen of the Society in Frankfort for History and Archæology; Ravenstein's Führer durch Frankfurt a. M. und Umgebungen (no date). In 1864 Fr. W. Delkeskamp published a beautiful Malerischer Plan von Frankfurt a. M. und seiner nächsten Umgebung; nach der Natur aufgenommen und auf geometrischer Basis in Vogelschau gezeichnet.
(H. A. W.)