Frankfurt Skyline Countdown # 17         

Frankfurt’s big illuminated Euro sign is a favorite photo location for tourists from all over the world. Just about every time I ride past here, there is somebody trying to find just the right angle to get his girlfriend, the Euro sign and the Eurotower all in the same photo.

And I do ride past here quite often (or used to, before the coronavirus swung into action), because the Euro sign is just across from the Frankfurt Opera on Willy-Brandt-Platz, and the Eurotower is opposite the city theater.

Eurotower and Frankfurt Opera from Main Tower

For over a decade, the Eurotower was the provisional headquarters of the European Central Bank, until construction of their new building in Frankfurt’s East End was completed in 2015.

After two years of renovation, the Eurotower is now used by a relatively new division of the European Central Bank, the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), which is responsible for supervising the largest banks in the Euro zone.

The Eurotower is currently Frankfurt’s seventeenth tallest building. It is 148 meters high, has 39 floors and was opened in 1977. It got its name long before the Euro as a currency was even thought of.

The building was originally built for a different bank entirely, the BfG or Bank für Gemeinwirtschaft, which then belonged to the German trade unions but moved to smaller quarters long before it was sold to the Swedish banking group SEB in 2000.

Occupy Frankfurt

In September 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement began in New York, protesting inequality, the power of banks and “the greed and corruption of the 1 %” — meaning the richest one percent of the population. The movement quickly spread to other cities throughout the world, including Frankfurt as Germany’s principal financial center. After a false start in September, protesters in Frankfurt set up camp in October 2011 under the big Euro sign in the park in front of the Eurotower, which at that time was still the provisional headquarters of the European Central Bank. A sign underneath the big Euro read: “Let us talk about the future! Now!”

Signs in the protest camp

These signs (in German) read “Stop the bankster-circus.” (Bankster as in gangster.) “Solidarity in economics.” And: “Dear Occupy Critics, do not expect ready-made solutions. Instead, help us find some.”

Discussions about how to end inequality and solve the world financial crisis were conducted daily and anyone was welcome to join in, including bankers who worked in the nearby skyscrapers.

Signs in French and English

“For a better world” and “Make love, not hedge funds.”

Notice boards at Occupy Frankfurt: “Breaking Banks”

For seven months, until May 2012, protesters from the Occupy Frankfurt movement camped out in front of the Eurotower.

My photos in this post are from 2004 and 2011. I revised the text in 2020.

Next: Frankfurt Skyline Countdown # 16.

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