The most visible sign of structural change in Bremerhaven is the '900-metre smile' - the new urban planning and urban design for the pedestrian precinct in Bremerhaven's city centre. The state of Bremen and the city of Bremerhaven have invested around 65 million euros in upgrading the city centre, and in projects such as the newly modernised theatre, or the repositories of the Historical Museum.
Efforts were concentrated on three main aims:
re-emphasising the role of Bremerhaven as a regional economic centre
enhancing the competitiveness of the city centre in relation to 'greenfield' retail outlets in surrounding areas and
attuning the city centre to the new attractions in the Old/New Harbour area.
The new city centre radiates warmth with its light-coloured granite paving; if the weather outside is cold and wet, protection is provided by glass roofing.
Special attention was devoted to planning and designing the lighting for the pedestrian precinct. Blue lighting strips under the glass roofs, new lamp posts and light columns, as well as spotlighting for the Great Church, the City Theatre and the new fountains provide plenty of atmosphere during the evening hours.
In 2002, the city of Bremerhaven was singled out for praise by the Federation of German Architects (Bund Deutscher Architekten - BDA) for the harmonious concept behind the project. Modified bus routing has created space for new ideas - playground equipment for children, as well as benches and places to sojourn. And for the fountains, a visible symbol of the mission behind Bremerhaven's city centre - to be the shopping attraction by the sea.