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Old Elbe tunnel Along under the Elbe

Old Elbe tunnel car-free until further notice

The renovation of the west tube of the St. Pauli Elbe Tunnel began on June 3, 2019. At the same time, the reopened eastern tube was closed to motor vehicles until further notice for operational and construction-related reasons. Pedestrians and cyclists can still walk and drive through the tunnel between St. Pauli and Steinwerder. The block for cars applies until further notice, an end date is not yet known.

Musical spectacle below the Elbe

There was a special highlight at the reopening: The renewed repair of the tunnel was celebrated with a musical spectacle 21 meters below the surface of the Elbo. The specially composed, multimedia “TunnelSymphonie” was performed for this occasion. a 144-piece orchestra let the Elbe tunnel sound.

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Source: smartport TV / HPA

The listed piece of city history has been fundamentally renewed with historical attention to detail and the highest level of craftsmanship. 104 lamps made in coordination with the monument protection office as well as 80 large ceramic plates with 14 different, harbor-relevant animal motifs were attached. Furthermore, 1,700 ring-shaped steel girders were exposed, 200,000 riveted and screwed connections were renewed and over 37 kilometers of joints were sealed. Initially, the traffic is to run through both the east and west tubes, before the restoration of the west tube is due on June 2, 2019. More on this later in this article.

East tube in new splendor

It is finally shimmering again in the east tunnel of the old Elbe tunnel. This has been extensively renovated over the past eight and a half years. The walls are freshly tiled and provided with reliefs - everything strictly according to historical models. By the way, there are around 400,000 tiles that adorn the inside of the tube and, with their special glaze, create the shadowy light that is typical of the Elbe tunnel. Speaking of light: the old lamps have also been restored and reinstalled.

Working on the road proved to be problematic. First of all, the tube had to be weighted down so that the road surface could be removed without the Elbe tunnel floating up. In addition, poisonous documents came to light in the roadway, which necessitated increased occupational safety. After all, the new roadway was the last act in the rehabilitation of the tube.

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Underpass of the Norderelbe

The Old Elbe Tunnel, opened in 1911, was built to serve as a connection route between the Landungsbrücken and Steinwerder for port and shipyard workers. Originally a technical innovation, the tunnel became a tourist attraction at the latest after the opening of the "new" Elbe tunnel in the seventies and further new bridges in the port.

A building with a green dome on the Landungsbrücken points to the tunnel running across the Elbe, which has been a listed building since 2003. Elevators bring pedestrians and cyclists down, cars use the hydraulically operated elevator cars and pay a fee of two euros.

Hafenstrasse, Park Fiction and Cap San Diego are in the immediate vicinity of the Old Elbe Tunnel. It is only a short walk to the Reeperbahn and the Speicherstadt including HafenCity.

Steinwerder lookout point

The 426 meter long tunnel is used nowadays to explore the winding corners of the port, to get to Wilhelmsburg or the Alte Land. The viewing platform is also very popular, from which tourists and locals alike have a wonderful panoramic view of Hamburg's Landungsbrücken.

The old Elbe tunnel can certainly not be compared with newfangled tunnels, because the light from the lamps on the side gives the arched and tiled tubes their very own atmosphere. The tunnel view is a very popular photo opportunity. Reliefs in the form of starfish or dolphins also decorate the walls. Art exhibitions, such as Elb-Art, which takes place annually until 2009, presented national and international contemporary art in the tubes. The St. Pauli Elbe Tunnel was even named after the Elbtunnel Marathon, a sporting event that ran until 2010. The organizers hope to be able to offer the events again after the renovation work has been completed.

Refurbishment of the old Elbe tunnel continues

The budget committee of the Bundestag decided in November 2014 to increase the culture budget. With this money a number of monument protection measures will be financed nationwide. Including the renovation of the west tube of the old Elbe tunnel.

The old Elbtunnel found advocates in the Hamburg Bundestag members Johannes Kahrs (SPD) and Rüdiger Kruse (CDU), who also successfully campaigned for the renovation of Rickmer Rickmers. Originally, the SPD parliamentary group had postponed further work on the Elbe tunnel for cost reasons and demanded that the federal government participate.

The old Elbe tunnel has been renovated since 1995 and the work should be completed on schedule in the anniversary year 2011. But complications drove up costs. The east tube was reopened in spring 2019, and the Hamburg Port Authority has been renovating the west tube since June 2019. A total of almost 100 million euros is expected for the general overhaul.