The name Ostra is derived from Slavic and means the equivalent of 'island'. This name refers to the structure of the landscape at this location where the Weisseritz river joins the Elbe. In 1832, Caspar David Friedrich was so excited by the landscape that he immortalised it in one of his oil paintings. Even today, the charm of the landscape continues to persist.
As early as at the turn of the century, the plan in Dresden to erect a large civically supervised cattle stall and slaughterhouse was becoming mature. Under city mayor Otto Beutler, the director of the city construction office, Hans Erlwein, was charged with the concrete planning, and construction began in 1906.
A prerequisite for safe construction required that the Ostragehege, a flood area, would be fitted with a secure construction foundation. So, in the period from 1891 to 1893, the Friedrichstadt flood channel was developed according to city building plans. These initial natural conditions needed to be changed so that a secure construction site could be created for the slaughterhouse project. For this purpose, large portions of the Ostragehege area were built up to form a terrace, and the mouth of the Weisseritz was moved further west between 1891 and 1893.
The area of the civic cattle stall and slaughterhouse covered a total area of 36 hectares in its time. Overall, the complex consisted of 68 buildings. In its opening year of 1910, this complex was among the largest of its kind in Europe. At the time of its commissioning, cattle from Northern Germany and Austria were processed in addition to local inventory.
With the new trade structures that resulted after 1990, significant framework conditions for operating the slaughterhouse changed. Based on these developments, this institution was shut down in 1995. The most important later use of the complex is by Messe Dresden.
After the connection and renovation of the historically-protected building vis-à-vis the main entrance of the Dresden Trade Fair, a location was created on historical grounds which would host events of a yet unseen scope. The green space, the Seehaus restaurant, the Seebühne lake stage, and the 'Erlwein-Capitol' event hall combine for 1,200 m² of useful space, a feature that is unique in the region.