Electricity, the sign of the modern age, brought about radical changes in 20th-century day-to-day life.The first power stations were built already before the turn of the century. In 1888 Hamburg was one of the first cities in imperial Germany to build and finance its own power station, the »Centrale Poststrasse«. Four upright steam engines with a combined capacity of approximately 700 kWh initially supplied electricity to the neighbouring streets, the stock market and the new city hall built between 1886 and 1897.
Later a prototype of the modern district heating system provided heat for the city hall. In 1894 the station was taken over by Hamburgische Electricitäts-Werke AG. From 1921 more buildings were connected to the district heating system, making Hamburg a pioneer in the development of 20th-century district heating.