The river Alster is one of Hamburg’s landmarks. Nowadays the river is relatively clean, the Kingfisher is breeding at the riverside again and there are even fish swimming in the canals throughout town. But that is just possible thanks to the work of several environmental associations and the citizens of Hamburg.
Even many years after World War II the situation was completely different. Back then the river was only one thing: useful. Barges and ships used the Alster as a waterway through the city. They transported feedstock and goods back and forth from the harbor to the factories. Sewage from private households and the industry were released into the Alster and the canals.
The river was narrowed and polluted and suffered from a shadowy existence. The fish stock decreased, rare animals and plants disappeared and no one even remembered what it was like to swim in the river besides maybe the great-grandparents. Many buildings were built on the straightened riversides and sluices regulated the water level.
It took a lot of work and time to turn the river Alster into a resort for the citizens of Hamburg again. The city and the environmental associations NABU, BUND and the Active alliance Fischotterschutz are still working to revitalize the river from the source to the mouth. It is time for the first interim result this year. The goal: to create the most natural and vital river Alster as possible in a major city.