Essen
Villa huegel.jpg
ThyssenKrupp Quartier (31798903101).jpg
Essen-Südviertel Luft.jpg
Grillo-Theater-2012.jpg
Schloss-Borbeck-Komplettansicht-Sonnenuntergang-2012.jpg
Zollverein Schacht 12.jpg
Essen Einkaufsstadt Hotel Handelshof 2014.jpg
Aalto-Theater-Abends-02-2014.jpg
Clockwise from top: Villa Hügel, Essen Business District, Schloß Borbeck, Hotel Handelshof, Aalto Theatre, UNESCO world heritage site Zeche Zollverein, Grillo-Theater, and ThyssenKrupp Headquarters.
Flag of Essen
Flag
Coat of arms of Essen
Coat of arms
Location of Essen within North Rhine-Westphalia
North rhine w E.svg
Essen is located in Germany
Essen
Essen
Essen is located in North Rhine-Westphalia
Essen
Essen
Coordinates: 51°27′3″N 7°0′47″E / 51.45083°N 7.01306°E / 51.45083; 7.01306Coordinates: 51°27′3″N 7°0′47″E / 51.45083°N 7.01306°E / 51.45083; 7.01306
CountryGermany
StateNorth Rhine-Westphalia
Admin. regionDüsseldorf
DistrictUrban district
Subdivisions9 districts, 50 boroughs
Government
 • Lord MayorThomas Kufen (CDU)
Area
 • Total210.32 km2 (81.21 sq mi)
Elevation
116 m (381 ft)
Population
 (2018-12-31)[1]
 • Total583,109
 • Density2,800/km2 (7,200/sq mi)
Time zoneCET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes
45001–45359
Dialling codes0201, 02054 (Kettwig)
Vehicle registrationE
Websitewww.essen.de
www.visitessen.de

Essen (German pronunciation: [ˈɛsn̩] (About this soundlisten); Latin: Assindia) is the central and second largest city of the Ruhr, the largest urban area in Germany. Its population of 583,109 makes it the ninth largest city of Germany, as well as the fourth largest city of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. On the Ruhr and Emscher rivers, Essen geographically is part of the Rhineland and the larger Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region. The Ruhrdeutsch regiolect spoken in the region has strong influences of both Low German (Westphalian) and Low Franconian (East Bergish).

Essen is seat to several of the region's authorities, as well as to eight of the 100 largest publicly held German corporations by revenue, including two DAX corporations. Essen is often considered the energy capital of Germany with E.ON and RWE, Germany's largest energy providers, both headquartered in the city. Essen is also known for its impact on the arts through the respected Folkwang University of the Arts, its Zollverein School of Management and Design, and the Red Dot industrial product design award. In early 2003, the universities of Essen and the nearby city of Duisburg (both established in 1972) were merged into the University of Duisburg-Essen with campuses in both cities and a university hospital in Essen. In 1958, Essen was chosen to serve as the seat to a Roman Catholic diocese (often referred to as Ruhrbistum or diocese of the Ruhr).

Founded around 845, Essen remained a small town within the sphere of influence of an important ecclesiastical principality (Essen Abbey) until the onset of industrialization. The city then — especially through the Krupp family iron works — became one of Germany's most important coal and steel centers. Essen, until the 1970s, attracted workers from all over the country; it was the 5th-largest city in Germany between 1929 and 1988, peaking at over 730,000 inhabitants in 1962. Following the region-wide decline of heavy industries in the last decades of the 20th century, the city has seen the development of a strong tertiary sector of the economy. The most notable witness of this Strukturwandel (structural change) is the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex, which has once been the largest of its kind in Europe. Ultimately closed in 1993, both the coking plant and the mine have been inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2001.

Notable accomplishments of the city in recent years include the title of European Capital of Culture on behalf of the whole Ruhr area in 2010 and the selection as the European Green Capital for 2017.[2]

Geography

General

DEU Oberhausen COA.svg
Oberhausen
DEU Bottrop COA.svg
Bottrop
DEU Gladbeck COA.svg
Gladbeck
DEU Gelsenkirchen COA.svg
Gelsenkirchen
DEU Muelheim an der Ruhr COA.svg
Mülheim an der Ruhr
Map of the Districts and Boroughs of Essen
Essen
(Map of districts and boroughs)
Stadtwappen der kreisfreien Stadt Bochum.svg
Bochum
DEU Ratingen COA.svg
Ratingen
DEU Heiligenhaus COA.svg
Heiligenhaus
DEU Velbert COA.svg
Velbert
DEU Hattingen COA.svg
Hattingen

Essen is located in the centre of the Ruhr area, one of the largest urban areas in Europe (see also: megalopolis), comprising eleven independent cities and four districts with some 5.3 million inhabitants. The city limits of Essen itself are 87 km (54 mi) long and border ten cities, five independent and five kreisangehörig (i.e., belonging to a district), with a total population of approximately 1.4 million. The city extends over 21 km (13 mi) from north to south and 17 km (11 mi) from west to east, mainly north of the River Ruhr.

The Ruhr forms the Lake Baldeney reservoir in the boroughs of Fischlaken, Kupferdreh, Heisingen and Werden. The lake, a popular recreational area, dates from 1931 to 1933, when some thousands of unemployed coal miners dredged it with primitive tools. Generally, large areas south of the River Ruhr (including the suburbs of Schuir and Kettwig) are quite green and are often quoted as examples of rural structures in the otherwise relatively densely populated central Ruhr area. According to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, Essen with 9.2% of its area covered by recreational green is the greenest city in North Rhine-Westphalia[3] and the third-greenest city in Germany.[4] The city has been shortlisted for the title of European Green Capital two consecutive times, for 2016 and 2017, winning for 2017.[5] The city was singled out for its exemplary practices in protecting and enhancing nature and biodiversity and efforts to reduce water consumption. Essen participates in a variety of networks and initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to improve the city's resilience in the face of climate change.

The lowest point can be found in the northern borough of Karnap at 26.5 m (86.9 ft), the highest point in the borough of Heidhausen at 202.5 m (664 ft). The average elevation is 116 m (381 ft).

City districts

Main station

Essen comprises fifty boroughs which in turn are grouped into nine suburban districts (called Stadtbezirke) often named after the most important boroughs. Each Stadtbezirk is assigned a Roman numeral and has a local body of nineteen members with limited authority. Most of the boroughs were originally independent municipalities but were gradually annexed from 1901 to 1975. This long-lasting process of annexation has led to a strong identification of the population with "their" boroughs or districts and to a rare peculiarity: The borough of Kettwig, located south of the Ruhr River, and which was not annexed until 1975, has its own area code. Additionally (allegedly due to relatively high church tax incomes), the Archbishop of Cologne managed to keep Kettwig directly subject to the Archdiocese of Cologne, whereas all other boroughs of Essen and some neighboring cities constitute the Diocese of Essen.

Climate

Essen has a typical oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb) with cool winters and warm summers (different of Berlin or Stuttgart). Without large mountains and the presence of inland seas, it ends up extending a predominantly marine climate is found in Essen, usually a little more extreme and drier in other continents in such geographical location.[6] Its average annual temperature is 10 °C (50 °F): 13.3 °C (56 °F) during the day and 6.7 °C (44 °F) at night. The average annual precipitation is 934 mm (37 in). The coldest month of the year is January, when the average temperature is 2.4 °C (36 °F). The warmest months are July and August, with an average temperature of 18 °C (64 °F).[7] The record high is 36.6 °C (98 °F) and the record low is −24 °C (−11 °F).[8]

Climate data for Essen (Bredeney), elevation: 152 m, 1971–2000 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 4.5
(40.1)
5.5
(41.9)
9.1
(48.4)
12.7
(54.9)
17.6
(63.7)
19.9
(67.8)
22.2
(72.0)
22.3
(72.1)
18.3
(64.9)
13.7
(56.7)
8.2
(46.8)
5.6
(42.1)
13.3
(55.9)
Daily mean °C (°F) 2.4
(36.3)
2.9
(37.2)
6.0
(42.8)
8.9
(48.0)
13.4
(56.1)
15.8
(60.4)
18.0
(64.4)
18.0
(64.4)
14.7
(58.5)
10.7
(51.3)
5.9
(42.6)
3.6
(38.5)
10.0
(50.0)
Average low °C (°F) 0.2
(32.4)
0.3
(32.5)
2.9
(37.2)
5.0
(41.0)
9.1
(48.4)
11.6
(52.9)
13.7
(56.7)
13.7
(56.7)
11.1
(52.0)
7.6
(45.7)
3.6
(38.5)
1.6
(34.9)
6.7
(44.1)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 84.5
(3.33)
58.1
(2.29)
78.2
(3.08)
61.0
(2.40)
72.2
(2.84)
92.8
(3.65)
81.2
(3.20)
78.8
(3.10)
78.0
(3.07)
75.1
(2.96)
81.1
(3.19)
93.1
(3.67)
934.1
(36.78)
Average precipitation days 14.1 10.5 13.6 11.1 11.1 12.0 10.4 9.9 11.2 10.9 13.6 14.1 142.5
Source: WMO[7]

History

Essen on an engraving from 1647
YearPop.±%
18164,721—    
18315,460+15.7%
18398,813+61.4%
187151,513+484.5%
189596,128+86.6%
1905231,360+140.7%
1919439,257+89.9%
1925470,524+7.1%
1935654,461+39.1%
1939666,743+1.9%
1950605,411−9.2%
1961726,550+20.0%
1970698,434−3.9%
1987623,427−10.7%
2001591,889−5.1%
2011565,900−4.4%
2017583,393+3.1%
Population size may be affected by changes in administrative divisions. Source:

In German-speaking countries, the name of the city Essen often causes confusion as to its origins, because it is commonly known as the German infinitive of the verb for "eating" (written as lowercase essen), and/or the German noun for food (which is always capitalized as Essen, adding to the confusion). Although scholars still dispute the interpretation of the name,[11] there remain a few noteworthy interpretations. The oldest known form of the city's name is Astnide, which changed to Essen by way of forms such as Astnidum, Assinde, Essendia and Esnede. The name Astnide may have referred either to a region where many ash trees were found or to a region in the East (of the Frankish Empire).[12] The Old High German word for fireplace, Esse, is also commonly mentioned due to the industrial history of the city, but is highly unlikely since the old forms of the city name originate from times before industrialization.

Early history

The oldest archaeological find, the Vogelheimer Klinge, dates back to 280,000 – 250,000 BC. It is a blade found in the borough of Vogelheim [de] in the northern part of the city during the construction of the Rhine–Herne Canal in 1926.[13] Other artifacts from the Stone Age have also been found, although these are not overly numerous. Land utilization was very high – especially due to mining activities during the Industrial Age – and any more major finds, especially from the Mesolithic era, are not expected. Finds from 3,000 BC and onwards are far more common, the most important one being a Megalithic tomb found in 1937. Simply called Steinkiste (Chest of Stone), it is referred to as "Essen's earliest preserved example of architecture".[14]

Essen was part of the settlement areas of several Germanic peoples (Chatti, Bructeri, Marsi), although a clear distinction among these groupings is difficult.

The Alteburg castle in the south of Essen dates back to the 1st or 2nd century BC, the Herrenburg to the 8th century AD.

Recent research into Ptolemy's Geographia has identified the polis or oppidum Navalia as Essen.[15]

8th–12th centuries

Around 845, Saint Altfrid (around 800–874), the later Bishop of Hildesheim, founded an abbey for women (coenobium Astnide) in the centre of present-day Essen. The first abbess was Altfrid's relative Gerswit (see also: Essen Abbey). In 799, Saint Liudger had already founded Benedictine Werden Abbey on its own grounds a few kilometers south. The region was sparsely populated with only a few smallholdings and an old and probably abandoned castle. Whereas Werden Abbey sought to support Liudger's missionary work in the Harz region (Helmstedt/Halberstadt), Essen Abbey was meant to care for women of the higher Saxon nobility. This abbey was not an abbey in the ordinary sense, but rather intended as a residence and educational institution for the daughters and widows of the higher nobility; led by an abbess, the members other than the abbess herself were not obliged to take vows of chastity.

Around 852, construction of the collegiate church of the abbey began, to be completed in 870. A major fire in 946 heavily damaged both the church and the settlement. The church was rebuilt, expanded considerably, and is the foundation of the present Essen Cathedral.

The first documented mention of Essen dates back to 898, when Zwentibold, King of Lotharingia, willed territory on the western bank of the River Rhine to the abbey. Another document, describing the foundation of the abbey and allegedly dating back to 870, is now considered an 11th-century forgery.

In 971, Mathilde II, granddaughter of Emperor Otto I, took charge of the abbey. She was to become the most important of all abbesses in the history of Essen. She reigned for over 40 years, and endowed the abbey's treasury with invaluable objects such as the oldest preserved seven branched candelabrum, and the Golden Madonna of Essen, the oldest known sculpture of the Virgin Mary in the western world. Mathilde was succeeded by other women related to the Ottonian emperors: Sophia, daughter of Otto II and sister of Otto III, and Teophanu, granddaughter of Otto II. It was under the reign of Teophanu that Essen, which had been called a city since 1003, received the right to hold markets in 1041. Ten years later, Teophanu had the eastern part of Essen Abbey constructed. Its crypt contains the tombs of St. Altfrid, Mathilde II, and Teophanu herself.

13th–17th centuries

Alte Kirche (Old Church, built 1887), Altenessen

In 1216, the abbey, which had only been an important landowner until then, gained the status of a princely residence when Emperor Frederick II called abbess Elisabeth I Reichsfürstin (Princess of the Empire) in an official letter. In 1244, 28 years later, Essen received its town charter and seal when Konrad von Hochstaden, the Archbishop of Cologne, marched into the city and erected a city wall together with the population. This proved a temporary emancipation of the population of the city from the princess-abbesses, but this lasted only until 1290. That year, King Rudolph I restored the princess-abbesses to full sovereignty over the city, much to the dismay of the population of the growing city, who called for self-administration and imperial immediacy. The title free imperial city was finally granted by Emperor Charles IV in 1377. However, in 1372, Charles had paradoxically endorsed Rudolph I's 1290 decision and hence left both the abbey and the city in imperial favour. Disputes between the city and the abbey about supremacy over the region remained common until the abbey's dissolution in 1803. Many lawsuits were filed at the Reichskammergericht, one of them lasting almost 200 years. The final decision of the court in 1670 was that the city had to be "duly obedient in dos and don'ts" to the abbesses but could maintain its old rights—a decision that did not really solve any of the problems.

In 1563, the city council, with its self-conception as the only legitimate ruler of Essen, introduced the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic abbey had no troops to counter this development.

Thirty Years' War

During the Thirty Years' War, the Protestant city and the Catholic abbey opposed each other. In 1623, princess-abbess Maria Clara von Spaur, Pflaum und Valör, managed to direct Catholic Spaniards against the city in order to initiate a Counter-Reformation. In 1624, a "re-Catholicization" law was enacted, and churchgoing was strictly controlled. In 1628, the city council filed against this at the Reichskammergericht. Maria had to flee to Cologne when the Dutch stormed the city in 1629. She returned in the summer of 1631 following the Bavarians under Gottfried Heinrich Graf zu Pappenheim, only to leave again in September. She died 1644 in Cologne.

The war proved a severe blow to the city, with frequent arrests, kidnapping and rape. Even after the Peace of Westphalia from 1648, troops remained in the city until 9 September 1650.

Industrialisation

Three rings of the Krupp logo and the historic house of the Krupp Family in 2014

The first historic evidence of the important mining tradition of Essen date back to the 14th century, when the princess-abbess was granted mining rights. The first silver mine opened in 1354, but the indisputably more important coal was not mentioned until 1371, and coal mining only began in 1450.

At the end of the 16th century, many coal mines had opened in Essen, and the city earned a name as a centre of the weapons industry. Around 1570, gunsmiths made high profits and in 1620, they produced 14,000 rifles and pistols a year. The city became increasingly important strategically.

Resident in Essen since the 16th century, the Krupp family dynasty and Essen shaped each other. In 1811, Friedrich Krupp founded Germany's first cast-steel factory in Essen and laid the cornerstone for what was to be the largest enterprise in Europe for a couple of decades. The weapon factories in Essen became so important that a sign facing the main railway station welcomed visitors Hitler and Mussolini to the "Armory of the Reich" (German: Waffenschmiede des Reiches) in 1937.[16] The Krupp Works also were the main reason for the large population growth beginning in the mid-19th century. Essen reached a population of 100,000 in 1896. Other industrialists, such as Friedrich Grillo, who in 1892 donated the Grillo-Theater to the city, also played a major role in the shaping of the city and the Ruhr area in the late 19th and early 20th century.

First World War

Riots broke out in February 1917 following a breakdown in the supply of flour. There were then strikes in the Krupp factory.[17]

Occupation of the Ruhr

On 11 January 1923 the Occupation of the Ruhr was carried out by the invasion of French and Belgian troops into the Ruhr. The French Prime Minister Raymond Poincaré was convinced that Germany failed to comply the demands of the Treaty of Versailles. On the morning of 31 March 1923 it came to the sad culmination of this French-German confrontation.[18] A small French military command, occupied the Krupp car hall to seize several vehicles. This event called 13 deaths and 28 injured. The occupation of the Ruhr ended in summer 1925.

Phase of the Nazi seizure of power in 1933–34

Heinrich Maria Martin Schäfer was appointed mayor of Essen on 21 December 1932. After the Nazi seizure of power Theodor Reismann-Grone became the mayor on 5 April 1933. Essen was then divided in 27 local NSDAP groups (NSDAP-Ortsgruppe).[19]

1938 November Pogrom

On the night of 10 November 1938, the synagogue was sacked, but remained through the whole war in the exterior almost intact.[20] The Steele synagogue was completely destroyed.

Forced labor camps and concentration camps

Tens of thousands of forced laborers arrived in the Nazi era in 350 Essen camps, forced to Forced labour under German rule during World War II at companies like Krupp, Siemens and for mining work.[21][22] In Essen there were in Second World War several Subcamps as the sub campHumboldtstraße, the Gelsenberg ssub camp and the subcamp Schwarze Poth.

Second World War

Devastation of Krupp factory

As a major industrial centre, Essen was a target for allied bombing, the Royal Air Force (RAF) dropping a total of 36,429 long tons of bombs on the city.[23] Over 270 air raids were launched against the city, destroying 90% of the centre and 60% of the suburbs.[24] On 5 March 1943 Essen was subjected to one of the heaviest air-raids of the war. 461 people were killed, 1,593 injured and a further 50,000 residents of Essen were made homeless.[25] On 13 December 1944 three British airmen were lynched.[26]

The Krupp decoy site (German: Kruppsche Nachtscheinanlage) was built in Velbert to divert Allied airstrikes from the actual production site of the arms factory in Essen.

The Allied ground advance into Germany reached Essen in April 1945. The US 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 17th Airborne Division, acting as regular infantry and not in a parachute role, entered the city unopposed and captured it on 10 April 1945.[27]

Under British occupation

After the successful invasion of Germany by the allies, Essen was assigned to the British Zone of Occupation. On 8 March 1946, a German Army Officer and a civilian were hanged for the lynching of three British Airmen in December 1944.

Twenty-first century

View over Central Essen from Bottrop

Although weaponry is no longer produced in Essen, old industrial enterprises such as ThyssenKrupp and RWE remain large employers in the city. Foundations such as the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung still promote the well-being of the city, for example by supporting a hospital and donating €55,000,000 for a new building for the Museum Folkwang, one of the Ruhr area's major art museums.

Largest groups of foreigners[28][citation needed]
Nationality Population
(31-Dec-2017)
Turkey 14,748
Syria 10,601
Poland 7,086
Iraq 5,024
Romania 4,142
Serbia & Montenegro 3,900
China 3,260
Greece 3,008
Italy 2,786
Croatia 2,639
Afghanistan 2,301
Bulgaria 2,105
Spain 1,914
Russia 1,763
Lebanon 1,689

Politics

Old and new government seats: Essen Cathedral (front) and the city hall (background)

Historical development

The administration of Essen had for a long time been in the hands of the princess-abbesses as heads of the Imperial Abbey of Essen. However, from the 14th century onwards, the city council increasingly grew in importance. In 1335, it started choosing two burgomasters, one of whom was placed in charge of the treasury. In 1377, Essen was granted imperial immediacy[29] but had to abandon this privilege later on. Between the early 15th and 20th centuries, the political system of Essen underwent several changes, most importantly the introduction of the Protestant Reformation in 1563, the annexation of 1802 by Prussia, and the subsequent secularization of the principality in 1803. The territory was made part of the Prussian Province of Jülich-Cleves-Berg from 1815 to 1822, after which it became part of the Prussian Rhine Province until its dissolution in 1946.

During the German Revolution of 1918–19, Essen was the home of the Essen Tendency (Essener Richtung) within the Communist Workers' Party of Germany. In 1922 they founded the Communist Workers' International. Essen became one of the centres of resistance to Social Democracy and the Freikorps alike.

During the Nazi era (1933–1945), mayors were installed by the Nazi Party. After World War II, the military government of the British occupation zone installed a new mayor and a municipal constitution modeled on that of British cities. Later, the city council was again elected by the population. The mayor was elected by the council as its head and as the city's main representative. The administration was led by a full-time Oberstadtdirektor. In 1999, the position of Oberstadtdirektor was abolished in North Rhine-Westphalia and the mayor became both main representative and administrative head. In addition, the population now elects the mayor directly.

City council

The last local elections took place on 27 September 2015. Thomas Kufen (CDU) was elected Lord Mayor[30] and the following political parties gained seats in the city council:

SPD (Social Democrats) 34
CDU (Christian Democrats) 31
GRÜNE (Greens) 11
FDP (Liberals) 3
The Left (Left-wing) 5
Essener Bürgerbündnis (Independent) 4
REP (National Conservatives) 0
NPD (Far right-wing) 1
Essen steht AUF (MLPD) (Marxist–Leninists) 0
Total 90

The city is governed by a coalition of SPD and CDU.

Coat of arms

Essen's coat of arms

The coat of arms of the city of Essen is a heraldic peculiarity. Granted in 1886, it is a so-called Allianzwappen (arms of alliance) and consists of two separate shields under a single crown. Most other coats of arms of cities show a wall instead of a crown. The crown, however, does not refer to the city of Essen itself, but instead to the secularized ecclesiastical principality of Essen under the reign of the princess-abbesses. The dexter (heraldically right) escutcheon shows the double-headed Imperial Eagle of the Holy Roman Empire, granted to the city in 1623. The sinister (heraldically left) escutcheon is one of the oldest emblems of Essen and shows a sword that people believed was used to behead the city's patron Saints Cosmas and Damian. People tend to connect the sword in the left shield with one found in the Cathedral Treasury. This sword, however, is much more recent.[31] A slightly modified and more heraldically correct version of the coat of arms can be found on the roof of the Handelshof hotel near the main station.

The Handelshof Hotel with modified coat of arms and unofficial motto

International relations

Essen is twinned with:[32]

The City of Monessen, Pennsylvania, situated along the Monongahela River, was named after the river and Essen.[35]

There are cooperations with the following cities:[32]