The central station was built as part of the redevelopment of the Hamburg railway system in 1901-1906 as the hub for all railway lines passing through Hamburg. It is interesting that the station was built in or over the former city fortifications; the rails therefore lie on the foundations of the old walls. The steel construction of the massive three-aisled hall is enclosed on the outside by a cut stone construction in the so-called historical-monumental style. Most recently, around 2005/06, the huge Wandelhalle (on the northern bridge) and the southern bridge facilities were modernised.
Today around 450,000 travellers and pedestrians use the station. Every day 800 local and long-distance trains and 60 goods trains pass through; add to that 1,000 suburban railway journeys and underground trains.