When outsiders talk about Frankfurt, they usually mean the financial hub. The city hosts the head offices of Germany’s four main banks and the European Central Bank – plus more than 200 other financial institutions! Not to mention the country’s foremost stock exchange and financial market supervision. Plus investment trusts. And rating agencies. And management consultancies. And … no wonder that almost an eighth of Frankfurt’s workforce is employed in the financial sector. Offering plenty of promising career opportunities, the city is nevertheless more challenging than other German cities. You need to be strong and resilient to make it here
Incidentally, I am among the other seven eighths. After all, my city has a lot more to offer than an impressive skyline and people in smart business attire. Take Frankfurt’s 50,000 students who make the city an incredibly young and vibrant place to be. First and foremost, we have the Goethe University with its 18 Nobel Prize winners – previous lecturers include Adorno and Horkheimer. Those interested in other ‘ancients’ head down to the River Main for a leisurely 1.5 mile stroll past 24 museums on the river banks. My personal favorite here is the Schirn, our internationally acclaimed house of the arts, but I also frequent the German Film Museum – after all, this is where I work. I screen treasures from the vaults in the associated cinema. Further cultural gems include the opera, theater, and Wesel shipyards where art lovers can enjoy a summer of theater, concerts, and other performances. With its focus on both finance and culture, Frankfurt reaches an Urban Joy Index of 75. And if you find yourself needing a break from the skyline and riverside living, simply head out to the countryside. On my bike, it takes me less than 15 minutes from skyscrapers to the nearest fields. Frankfurt is a green city – and we celebrate our annual city festival in the municipal woods.
At the same time, Frankfurt also serves as an international hub for flights, freight, data, and ideas. Almost everyone in Germany has heard of Frankfurt’s Airport and trade fair complex. The latter also boasts one of the city’s most popular photo ops – the sculpture of a ‘Hammering Man’ – vying for pole position with the city’s town hall, the ‘Römer.’ While nobody remembers how the Römer (Roman) got its name, it hints at Frankfurt’s rich history as the coronation site of many kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. But let’s return to the Hammering Man and his ceaseless toil, capturing the gist and heart of my city. Frankfurt is a city of doers – and also known as the heart of Germany, not least of all thanks to its strong sense of hospitality.
In this spirit, let’s not forget the so-called Jöst Lodges, the city’s traditional watering holes dating back to the days when tap water wasn’t exactly potable. Sales of drinking water were supposed to curb beer and spirit consumption, but Frankfurter’s prefer their stöffche, äppler, or appelwoi anyway – the city is all about hard cider. People drink from a gerippter and pour from the bembler. Confused? Don’t worry, just lean back and enjoy our generous hospitality. The latter might have spawned the iconic ‘Frankfurt kitchen’ – the world’s first ever, and incredibly well-planned, kitchenette. Replete with sliding doors, pull-out work surfaces, ironing board, and a height-adjustable swivel chair. A design just like Frankfurt itself: multi-faceted, unafraid of going the extra mile, and with a strong love of detail. Yet always with a sense of subtle elegance.
Text: Janosch Kleber
Header image: kleinod analog/ photocase.com