Before I come up with some metaphysical description of Hamburg's warehouse city, here is what Wikipedia has to say:
The Speicherstadt (lit. city of warehouses, meaning warehouse district) in Hamburg, Germany is the largest timber-pile founded warehouse district in the world. It is located in the port of Hamburg—within the HafenCity quarter—and was built from 1883 to 1927.
The district was built as a free zone to transfer goods without paying customs. As of 2009 the district and the surrounding area is under redevelopment.
HistorySince 1815, the independent and sovereign city of Hamburg was a member of the German Confederation—the association of Central European states created by the Congress of Vienna—but not member of the German Customs Union. With the establishment of the German Empire in 1871, Hamburg could not be a customs free zone and part of the German Empire. Due to treaties of 1888 Hamburg was part of the German customs zone and a free port was established. 
In 1883 the demolition of the Kehrwieder area began and more than 20,000 people needed to be relocated. From 1885 to 1888 the first part was built and managed by the Freihafen-Lagerhaus-Gesellschaft (the predecessor of the Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG) During the Second World War the Speicherstadt was half-destroyed and partly reconstructed. Since 1991 it is listed a heritage site in Hamburg,  and since 2008, part of the HafenCity quarter.  In an attempt to revitalize the inner city area, the Hamburg government initiated the development of the HafenCity area, for example with the construction of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall. 
There are some of my impressions from walking the Speicherstadt. It was very impressive and I loved the atmosphere.