While walking down the Reeperbahn the other night, I realised that the “Esso Buildings” (Esso Häuser) have been demolished already. If you are interested in how it came to that, I recommend Initiative Esso Häuser for some additional reading.
Basically, it was a building complex created in the 1960ies with some clubs (e.g. Molotow) and stores on the Spielbudenplatz as well as cheap apartments for low income tenants. In 2009 it was sold to Bayerischen Hausbau GmbH & Co. KG with plans for a new construction of commercial and residential real estate, at a totally different price point to be sure. in 2013 people were evicted from their homes within the buildings due to acclaimed danger of collapse. Regardless of many community meetings, demonstrations, protests and disputes with security forces, the demolition permit was sanctioned in January 2014. Now, the Esso buildings are gone… soon to be replaced with some prestigious structures with no more room for its previous urban culture who shaped the appeal of the Reeperbahn for over 50 years.
I kind of miss them. Here is a photo I took while I lived “above” the Esso gas station on the Reeperbahn. … oh boy, it wasn’t pretty.
PS: If you are interested in the gentrification of St. Pauli, the Reeperbahn and the surrounding area in Hamburg, I highly recommend watching Empire St. Pauli – a documentary from 2009, available online.