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1886-1897; seven architects, led by Martin Haller

Tower top and finial

Note the Hamburg coat of arms against the red background The seal dates from the 13th century, and may only be used on government documents or buildings.

The Latin inscription below the seal and above a mosaic representation of Hammonia, patron goddess of the city says:

May posterity strive to preserve the freedom won by our forebearers

City Hall inner courtyard with the Fountain of Hygieia, classical goddess of health (photo by Ulrich Kerstling)

Christmas tree in a city hall gallery

Christmas tree in a city hall gallery

Senate Room (photo by Luxtonnere)

Music Gallery -- note lights and music stands in the balcony

“The form of every city hall expresses the dominant local ideas of civic power and authority at the time it was built.  All that is outside, also is inside [Was innen ist, ist außen], as Goethe observed of all forms.” — Bayard Coll

"The architecture and ornamentation of city halls and the activities  they housed embodied the efforts of the citizens to set themselves apart from other dominant secular and religious institutions, such as royal dynasties and the Catholic and Protestant churches. City halls were the sites of local governance or administration and also sites of festivals and rituals that helped construct a sense of collective or shared identity while legitimizing the authority of those individuals or groups that actually exercised some measure of power in the cities. Sculptures on façades celebrated local notables alongside important dynastic or national figures. The buildings thus linked civic authority with the performance of civic pride."

— Jeffry M. Diefendorf, "Rebuilding City Halls in Postwar Germany: Architectural Form and Identity"


"We call events and occasions public when they are open to all, in contrast to closed or exclusive affairs as when we speak of public spaces or public buildings. But, as in the expression public building, the term need not refer to general accessibility; the building does not even have to be open to public traffic. Public buildings simply house state institutions and as such are public." 

— Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere


"Art was not morally neutral but worked in the service of virtue…  Ornament was not crime, but the addition of beauty and instruction to the satisfaction of material needs.  Art began precisely where utility broke off.  Form was not to follow function, but to transcend it. Any evidence of restraint, understatement, or, worst of all, parsimony, will subvert its intention."

— Donald Olsen, The City as a Work of Art


"Not utility, but cultural self-projection"

— Carl Schorske, Fin-de-Siècle Vienna