In medieval times, Stade was a prominent member of the Hanseatic League, but was later eclipsed by Hamburg. Stade was also occupied by Sweden for some time, with some of the buildings by the Swedes still being in use today.
There is also a nuclear power plant at Elbe river, which was connected to the power grid in 1972, making it Germany's second oldest reactor. Following Germany's 2002 decision to get out of nuclear power generation, Stade was the first German plant to be affected, getting shut down permanently on November 14, 2003. The process of dismantling the facility is supposed to be completed by 2015.