For those who might have a little extra time on their hands, here are a few suggestions what to do:
Right at the time of your stay, 25. - 28.05.2017, there will be a major event: The Seaside City Festival.
It will take place around the Old and New Harbor as well as the whole pedestrian area. With lots of music, fireworks, international culinary delights and other attractions the Festival usually attracts many visitors from near and far.
There will be traditional motor ships, sail ships and tall ships and they all invite daily to open-ship. One of the many highlights is also all-day Sunday shopping in the Columbus Shopping Center, pedestrian area and in the Mediterraneo.
Although Bremerhaven is a young city, it actually incorporates four ancient settlements: the villages Weddewarden in the North (first written reference dating back to 1091), Geestendorf, Schiffdorferdamm and Wulsdorf in the South (all three first documented in 1139) and the market town Lehe (first written reference from 1275).
Bremerhaven itself was founded on an area north of the Geeste estuary of then 88.7 ha bought by the City of Bremen from the Kingdom Hanover in 1827 with the intention to build an outer harbor for Bremen to avoid the increasing siltation of the river Weser. The first artificial port basin, the “Old Harbor” was completed in September 1830 followed by the New Harbor in 1847. Bremerhaven thrived quickly, mainly due to the trade with America and mass emigration gaining major importance in transatlantic passenger transport, and was granted city rights in 1851.
In 1845/47 the Kingdom Hanover founded the city Geestemuende south of the Geeste estuary with ports and docks and a direct rail link in close proximity and direct competition with Bremerhaven. The place soon became an industrial site and a transshipment-center for wood, rice and petroleum. As from mid-century deep-sea fishery developed to be another important source of income.
On both sides of the river, shipyards, machine factories and other suppliers to the maritime industry were established. In the north, further harbor basins were built. In 1875 the Kaiserhafen was completed, followed by Kaiserhafen II in 1908 and Kaiserhafen III in 1909, all three later extended.
In 1889 Geestendorf was incorporated into Geestemuende, Wulsdorf in 1920. In 1924 Geestemuende and Lehe merged to become the city Wesermuende which was enlarged by the municipalities Schiffdorferdamm and Weddewarden in 1927.
This move turned Bremerhaven into an island within the larger Wesermuende. In order to clear the path to a union while safeguarding Bremen’s economic interests, Bremerhaven’s port area was separated from the city in 1938. A year later Bremerhaven was joined to Wesermuende. After the war, on January 1st 1947 the city of Wesermuende was given to the German state Bremen and renamed to Bremerhaven in March of the same year.
In the 1960s a structural change set in. Air transportation replaced transatlantic passenger transport while containerization revolutionized freight carriage. Shipbuilding and deep-sea-fishery suffered a dramatic decline.
The passenger facilities at the famous Columbus quay – largely destroyed in the war and rebuilt between 1958 and 1962 – were finally closed down in 1993, passenger traffic was redirected to another quay. A decade later, the Columbus Quay experienced a revival when in May 2003 the newly built Columbus Cruise Center Bremerhaven opened its doors.
In 1968, Bremerhaven started to build its first container terminal which was gradually enlarged from 1978 onward over a total of 6 expansion phases. Today, the so-called “Stromkaje” (= River Quay) is almost 5 km long and offers 14 berths for mega-container vessels. In 2010 this was the largest coherent container terminal world-wide and obtained an entry in Guiness World Records.
Of the former vast maritime industry, only two medium-sized shipyards remain to the day. The fisheries crisis was met with a diversification process so that the entire supply chain of the fish industry is represented in Bremerhaven.
All of this could not completely cushion the impact of the decline. To make up for the gap, the city’s current development focuses on the expansion and promotion of scientific research, especially in the area of climate protection, and an increased offer for tourists.
Those of you who are interested in the local ports might like to take a look a at the port guide "Ports Pilot" issued by the ports management company "bremenports". Please click for download: >> Ports Pilot 2015