History of Hamburg
In the 800s there were a castle on the shore of river Elbe called Hammaburg, and around it a town was formed. A episcopal seat was early founded here, from which such as Ansgar was sent out on an early mission to the Swedish settlement of Birka. The Hanseatic League led to a sharp rise in the city, which soon came to dominate the organization over the rival town of Lübeck. Denmark who controlled Schleswig and Holstein, several times tried to capture Hamburg without success. Sweden also strove towards incorporating city in its own realm in the 1600s. Even the German emperor failed to overtake the city, so Hamburg could retain its independence as a free imperial city (Freie Reichsstadt) until 1871 when Bismarck unified Germany.
Altona vas founded by the Danish in the Middle Ages as a economical and political counterweight to the independent Kingdom of Hamburg. Altona shortly grew to be Denmarks second biggest town and only port to the North Sea. In 1844 the railway between Altona and Kiel was buildt, and ran entirely through Danish territory. In 1864 the Danes lost Altona, and their only North Sea port, which lead to the foundation of Esbjerg.
In 1937 Hamburg incorporated Altona and today the city district has a population of 248000 inhabitants.
The area where St. Pauli lies began to plots already when Altona was a Danish town. St. Pauli lies in the middle between Hamburg and Altona, but the area belonged to Hamburg, which had initially planned to build a hill there. The hill would serve as a strategic defense against a Danish attack on Hamburg. The area was therefore named Hamburger Berg (Hamburg Hills) and was built initially only with residential buildings. In the late 1600s people officially lived in Hamburger Berg. After a while the city moved several noisy industries out of town, and Hamburger Berg was a suitable place for them.
Many ropemakers moved there because their activities require large facilities, something that was difficult to access in Hamburg (inside the city walls). Reeperbahn got its name from the rope making industry, Reep is the word for ropemaker in Low German. As more and more settled in Hamburger Berg, even hospitals and more jobs moved there. Later the name was changed from Hamburger Berg to St. Paul's after the church that was built there.