In 1881, the German architect Hermann Eggert won the design contest for the station hall, his runner-up in the contest, Johann Wilhelm Schwedler was made chief engineer for the steel-related works. The station was built by the contractor Philipp Holzmann with construction starting in 1883. The Central-Station Frankfurt was finally opened on 18 August 1888. Over the course of the next few years, the area eastward of the new station, the Bahnhofsviertel was built up, finishing around 1900. Until the completion of Leipzig Central-Station in 1915, Frankfurt station was the largest in Europe.
The 24 platforms with 26 tracks on one level make it probably the world's largest one-level railway hall. In 1924 two neoclassical halls were added on each side of the main hall, increasing the number of platforms to 24. During World War II, the building was partly damaged (most notably the windows in the halls covering the platforms). In 1956 the station was fully electrified. One year later, Europe's then-largest signal box was commissioned, which, having been built in a contemporary style of the time has now become a listed building.
The appearance of the station is divided into perron (track hall) and vestibule (reception hall). Dominant in those parts built in 1888 are Neo-Renaissance features, the outer two halls, added in 1924 follow the style of neoclassicism. The eastern façade of the vestibule features a large clock with two symbolic statues for day and night. The roof of the front hall carries a monumental statue of Atlas supporting the World on his shoulder, in this case assisted by two allegorical figures representing Iron and Steam.