Gängeviertel Alternative Area
The history of the quirky Gängeviertel (lit: alleyway quarter) goes back to the 19th century, when the city's workers lived in timber houses in the myriad of alleys. After a cholera epidemic, the government began the process of tearing down the houses with dubious hygienic conditions. Since then, Gängeviertel has been threatened with destruction several times. Today, the area is listed by UNESCO as an example of cultural diversity, and is cited as a success story of the Right to the City initiative.
For years, the buildings and houses in Gängeviertel were left empty. But when an investor's project threatened to demolish the buildings in 2009, the site was occupied in an attempt to preserve this piece of history. After several protests by a group of dedicated Hamburg activists and artists, the decision was made to keep and renovate the buildings, instead of selling them on. Gängeviertel began to hosts events such as film screenings, sketch sessions, as well as live music and bands. Today it prides itself on being a cultural artistic space for all of Hamburg — both young and old.
Murals, events and cafes
In 2015, Gängeviertel celebrated its sixth year as a cultural space, celebrating with its "Komm in die Gänge" (lit. 'Come into the alleys') initiative. A series of cultural events and celebrations launched a campaign designed to sustain the Gängeviertel into the future, with the online programme listing weekly and monthly events.
Gängeviertel also has a cluster of refurbished flats (with modern hygiene standards!) and is home to the so-called Fabrique: a project meant to expand the available spaces for readings, concerts and exhibitions — and to bring back the life into the heart of the area. Another cultural offering is the Raum linksrechts, an art gallery for young art and artists in Hamburg, creating another space for cultural exchange in the Gängeviertel.
For those looking to relax and admire the Gängeviertel's impressive street art, including a new mural by the 'Low Bros', there are a few cafes dotted around, including Nasch, which has a wide selection of vegetarian and vegan options. Alternatively, give your bike a little TLC in the Raum für Fahrradkultur — which is not just a bike workshop, but also a cafe, library, kitchen and bar.
Since 2010, the Gängeviertel has been steered by the Gängeviertel Genossenschaft 2010 eG, a type of co-operative association, but relies on donations and volunteers to maintain it. Because of this, it is possible to buy a share in Gängeviertel. With a share in the area, not only is an important piece of history preserved, but it allows the holder to have their say at the AGM and help to shape the future of the Gängeviertel with other like-minded share holders.