International Electrotechnical Exhibition 1891

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Contemporary representation of the entrance area of ​​the exhibition grounds with arcade arch and electrically operated waterfall
“International Electrotechnical Exhibition” 1891 on the site of the former western train stations, view from the main train station to the east

The International Electrotechnical Exhibition took place from May 16 to October 19, 1891 on the site of the former West Railway Station in Frankfurt am Main . The organizer and technical director of the exhibition was Oskar von Miller . At the exhibition, the three-phase transmission Lauffen – Frankfurt was the first to demonstrate the powerful long-distance transmission of electricity that was generated in Lauffen am Neckar , 176 km away . As a result of this successful field test, three-phase current technology for the construction of electrical transmission networks established itself worldwide.


In 1881, when the first international electricity exhibition took place in Paris , the Electrotechnical Society was founded in Frankfurt as an association for the promotion of electricity. Research on their application in industry and technology was given priority. Three years later there were just about ten companies in Frankfurt that manufactured electrical equipment. Around 1890, however, some of the later large Frankfurt companies had already been founded: Hartmann & Braun , Staudt & Voigt (from 1891 Voigt & Haeffner ) and W. Lahmeyer & Co. (from 1893 Elektrizitäts-AG, formerly W. Lahmeyer & Co. ) . In Frankfurt, too, the beginning of the “second industrial revolution” was beginning to appear, which was to bring about fundamental upheavals like the entry of steam engines into the world of work 100 years earlier. In 1891 the German electrical industry was ready to present its capabilities to the public with the International Electrotechnical Exhibition . The site of the former Main-Neckar train station between the city and the main train station , completed in 1888, was chosen as the exhibition space between the station forecourt , Kaiserstraße , Gallusanlage , Gutleutstraße and Wiesenhüttenstraße.

Inspired by the Paris World Exhibition , Leopold Sonnemann , publisher of the Frankfurter Zeitung , had interested the Electrotechnical Society in the exhibition project. The preparations began in 1889. In addition to the international overview of the state of the electrical engineering industry, an acute Frankfurt problem should also be solved; Since 1886, the construction of a central power station for Frankfurt has been discussed in all political and technical committees, but there was no agreement on the appropriate electricity system. It was controversial whether it was better to produce direct current , alternating current or three-phase current . At the exhibition it was now possible to demonstrate an economical power transmission. Electrical energy was transmitted from Lauffen am Neckar to Frankfurt as high-voltage three-phase current with a low loss of 25 percent . This energy transfer was the main event of the exhibition, which was presented in the large three-part entrance gate: The central part was an arcade arch with the inscription Kraftuebertragung Lauffen – Frankfurt 175 km. This entrance arch was flanked on the right and left by rectangular panels named by the companies involved: on the right side was the logo of the Allgemeine Electricitätsgesellschaft founded in 1887 , on the left that of the machine factory Oerlikon . The entire entrance system was fitted with 1,000 light bulbs; Another central attraction was a waterfall that was electrically powered. With 1.2 million visitors from all over the world, the exhibition was a complete success. The price for a day ticket was an impressive 15 marks per person.

As a result of the exhibition, the question of the most economical form of transmission of electrical energy was considered to have been resolved in Germany. After the Frankfurt exhibition ended, the power plant in Lauffen began supplying the nearby city of Heilbronn . The city administration of Frankfurt built a power plant near the port, and another was privately built in Bockenheim .

The companies Siemens & Halske and Maschinenfabrik Buckau exhibited a dynamo coupled with a 500 HP steam engine , which received great attention.

A comprehensive report on this exhibition can be found in the Deutsche Bauzeitung on November 14, 1891.



  • Jürgen Steen (Ed.): "A new era ...!" The International Electrotechnical Exhibition 1891. (Exhibition catalog, Historisches Museum Frankfurt am Main) Frankfurt am Main 1991, ISBN 3-89282-022-8 .
  • Horst A. Wessel (Hrsg.): Modern energy for a new time. (7th VDE colloquium on September 3 and 4, 1991, on the occasion of the VDE anniversary event "100 Years of Three- Phase Current " in Frankfurt am Main) (= History of Electrical Engineering , Volume 11.) Berlin / Offenbach 1991, ISBN 3-8007- 1813-8 .
  • Volker Rödel: Factory architecture in Frankfurt am Main 1774–1924. Frankfurt am Main 1986, ISBN 3-7973-0435-8 , p. 30 f.
  • A. Askanasy (Ed.): Official catalog of the International Electrotechnical Exhibition in Frankfurt am Main 1891. Haasenstein & Vogler, Berlin 1891. ( Online edition of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya)

Web links

Commons : International Electrotechnical Exhibition 1891  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. 100 years Buckau-Wolf , Maschinenbaufabrik Buckau R. Wolf Magdeburg 1938, p. 132
  2. ^ The international electrical engineering exhibition in Frankfurt aM In: Deutsche Bauzeitung , Volume 25, 1891, No. 91 (from November 14, 1891), p. 550f (PDF), accessed on January 26, 2020.