chapter  7
Hamburg 1788–1815
ByMary Lindemann
Pages 20

There are few studies which address relationships between urban growth and charity in the eighteenth century, compared to the range of work on this theme for the nineteenth century. In the earlier period other questions have dominated, for example the impact of religious reform and humanism on charity. This deficiency is particularly striking, first because urbanization was a key factor in the redefinition of charity in the eighteenth (and perhaps also in the seventeenth) century, and second, because eighteenth-century reformers themselves were acutely aware of the implications of urban size and especially of population growth for the formulation of social policies. Germany in the eighteenth century has enjoyed far less attention from social and urban historians than either Britain or France. Perhaps this is because one does not usually think of Germany as a land of thriving cities: our vision is more bucolic and rustic. Moreover, the lack of interest probably stems as well from the mistaken beliefs that Germany in the eighteenth century was still a shattered land, barely moving on the road to recovery after the devastation of the Thirty Years’ War, and that Germany until the mid-nineteenth century merely stumbled along in the wake of western European developments. Yet while Germany boasted of no metropolises to compare with London and Paris, there were numerous cities which were even then afflicted with the problems and, as we should not forget, also blessed by the advantages of urbanization. Vienna and Berlin were major cities; Frankfurt and Munich, although much smaller, were not insignificant dots on a rural landscape. But perhaps the one city in Germany, indeed in all of central Europe, whose development paralleled most closely that

of London and Paris, or of Amsterdam and Antwerp, was Hamburg. Hamburg in the eighteenth century began to experience all the problems of urbanization with which urban and medical historians are so familiar: an influx of population, growing human diversity, overtaxed sanitary facilities, acute deficiencies in housing and transportation. Urbanization dictated not only a new etiquette of city life, but also new governmental practices, new and expensive municipal responsibilities, and new directions in charity.1