When the Old Elbe Tunnel, also called "St. Pauli Elbe Tunnel", was opened in 1911, it was a technical sensation. Today, it is a nostalgic and lovingly tended piece of Hamburg history - and has already celebrated its 100th anniversary.
The distinctive, square, domed structure on the St. Pauli landing bridges houses the machinery and the four large lift cages, which have been transporting people and vehicles at a depth of nearly 24 metres since 1911. After 426.5 metres beneath the Elbe and through two tiled tunnels with a diameter of 6 metres, you return to daylight in Steinwerder.
The Old Elbe Tunnel was the first river tunnel on the continent - and became a necessity since the growth of the Port of Hamburg was increasingly moving to the southern side of the Elbe and so an improved transport connection was required. It was ultimately modelled on the Clyde Tunnel in Glasgow after plans for a suspended railway, traject and viaduct had been rejected. During the Second World War, the shaft house of the Elbe Tunnel was badly damaged by bombing raids on the south side of the Elbe. However, much of the majolica with its depictions of aquatic life and traditional designs remains in tact.