Speckgürtel

Speckgürtel ("bacon belt"): That’s how Germans refer to the rings of wealthy suburbs around their cities

Once a day, the city of Frankfurt reminds me of a bathtub where you pull the plug. Just like the water gurgling down the drain, the city empties in no time at just after 5 in the afternoon.

This is when all the suits from the banking district get into their fancy cars to drive to the suburbs. Into the Speckgürtel of Frankfurt, to be exact. This area is home to some of the richest municipalities in Germany. Some of them seem almost deserted during the day. If you meet anyone at all before the afternoon in prosperous suburbs like Königstein or Kronberg, it’s mostly early retirees with Nordic walking sticks.

Towns like these usually form a ring around major German cities within a radius of about 30 kilometers. Hence the analogy of a “belt.” The “bacon” part however refers to the wealth that these moneymakers’ nests take in through income taxes alone—and that the core cities miss out on as a result. In return, the citizens of Frankfurt can look forward to the everyday inner-city traffic jam when the bathtub fills up again the next morning.

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