The official name Frankfurt (Oder) and the older and now informal Frankfurt an der Oder are used to distinguish it from the larger city of Frankfurt am Main.
The town of Frankfurt was chartered in 1253 at the Brandendamm, although the settlement is probably considerably older. The early settlers lived on the western banks of the Oder; later the town was extended to the eastern bank (today's Słubice). In late medieval times the town dominated the river trade between Breslau (Wrocław) and Stettin (Szczecin). In 1430 Frankfurt joined the Hanseatic League, but was a member for only a short time.
With the dissolution of the Margraviate of Brandenburg during the Napoleonic Wars, Frankfurt became part of the Province of Brandenburg in 1815. In the 19th century, Frankfurt played an important role in trade. Centrally positioned in the Kingdom of Prussia between Berlin and Poznań, on the heavily-trafficked river Oder, the city housed the second-largest annual trade fair (Messe) of the German Reich, surpassed only by that in Leipzig.
There was intense fighting for the city in 1945 during World War II when the city was declared a fortress (Festung) in an attempt to block the Red Army's route to Berlin. The postwar German-Polish border ran along the Oder, separating the Dammvorstadt on the eastern bank from the rest of Frankfurt; it became the Polish town of Słubice. While part of communist East Germany, Frankfurt was administered within Bezirk Frankfurt (Oder). It became part of the reconstituted state of Brandenburg with German reunification in 1990.
Today, Frankfurt and Słubice have friendly relations and run several common projects and facilities. Poland joined the European Union on 1 May 2004, and implemented the Schengen Agreement on December 21 2007 leading to the removal of permanent border controls.
In the post-communist era Frankfurt has suffered from high unemployment and low economic growth. Its population has fallen significantly from around 87,000 at the time of German reunification in 1990.
FC Viktoria Frankfurt is the town's local football team.
The Jewish community of Frankfurt celebrated its first Torah dedication since the Holocaust in March 2008. The procession of the new Torah scroll began from the spot where the city’s Frankfurter Synagogue stood prior to World War II, 500 meters from Germany’s border with Poland. Celebrants, including students from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, marched the scroll into the city’s Chabad-Lubavitch center, where they danced with the Torah that was donated by members of the Chabad-Lubavitch community in Berlin.
The Margraviate of Brandenburg's first university was Frankfurt's Alma Mater Viadrina, founded in 1506 by Joachim I Nestor, Elector of Brandenburg. An early chancellor, Bishop Georg von Blumenthal (1490-1550), was a notable opponent of the Protestant Reformation, as he remained a Catholic. Frankfurt also trained the noted archbishop Albert of Brandenburg around 1510, who also became a vocal opponent of the Reformation. The university was closed in 1811, and its assets divided between the new universities in Berlin (today's Humboldt University) and Breslau (University of Wrocław).
The university was refounded in 1991 with a European emphasis as the Viadrina European University, with close cooperation with the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań; they jointly run the Collegium Polonicum in Słubice.
In recent years, Frankfurt has been the setting for several notable German films: