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DEU Elberfeld COA.svg
Coat of arms of the city of Elberfeld
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Location of the Elberfeld district in Wuppertal
Elberfeld's location in the city of Wuppertal, which was created in 1929 by merging several cities (outlined in red)

Until it was merged with four other cities to form what is now Wuppertal on August 1, 1929, Elberfeld was a large mountain city in the eastern Rhineland . Today Elberfeld as a district of Wuppertal extends to the districts of Elberfeld , Elberfeld-West and Uellendahl-Katernberg . Since 1975, some incorporations from the former city of Neviges belong to the district .


Elberfeld around 1855, lithograph by Wilhelm Riefstahl
Elberfeld around 1899


Tell the foundation of the place

According to legend, Elberfeld was created when there was only forest where Elberfeld is today. A knight lived nearby and was accompanied by a loyal servant on every journey. Once the knight's wife fell ill. Nobody could help. One healer explained: “If someone were to bring the sick woman fresh milk from a lioness, then she could recover.” The faithful servant brought lion's milk in a jar. The knight's wife drank it and was well again. However, all those who asked the servant where he got the lion's milk from received only evasive answers. This made the knight suspicious. Although his servant had always served him faithfully, he feared his supernatural powers. He would no longer tolerate him in the house. As a farewell, the servant asked for five thalers as a reward for his long service . With this money he bought a little bell which he hung in the most beautiful spot in the forest.

Soon the knight was sorry that he had let his servant go. Whenever he mounted his horse, he always thought of the good servant. However, this never returned. In the course of time, the knight came to the realization that he must have been a good spirit or Elbe . Whenever he heard the little bell ringing in the forest, he thought of the lost servant, and it wasn't long before the place in the forest where the bell hung was called “Elbenfeld” and later “Elberfeld”. Everywhere in the country people are talking about this wondrous place. And when curious hikers came to the Elbenfeld, heard the bell and saw the wonderful meadow valley on the rushing river, then many of them didn't want to leave the place anymore. They built their huts here, and so a small village came into being on the Elbenfeld and later a town that was named Elberfeld.

Actual name origin

The name "Elberfeld" is derived from "Elve", an Old Saxon - Low German word for "river" (cf. Nordic "Elv" or "Älv"), so that the name means something like "area on the river".

middle Ages

Historicizing view of Elberfeld Castle

From the 7th century, the relatively late and sparse settlement of the predominantly wooded Wupper area by old Germanic tribes (possibly Borchter , a former Franconian tribe that was under Saxon influence, or Westphalia ) took place. For a long time the region was the border area between the Franconian Empire and the area of ​​influence of the Saxons , which, in addition to the inhospitable agricultural conditions compared to the Rhine plain, prevented larger settlement structures. With the Frankish conquest in the 9th century, the sparse population under Saxon influence was assimilated.

As a result, Charlemagne had Franconian manors built to protect the Wupper area, including probably Elberfeld. The historian Widukind , who worked in Corvey, reported towards the end of the 10th century about the first lord of a refuge in Elberfeld. This Fliehburg was owned by the Archbishop of Cologne from 955 and probably served as a supply station on Heerstraße to Soest . Widukind's chronicles speak of a Saxon lord of the castle Droste Brüning, feudal man of King Konrad I. After his death, according to Widukind, Eberhard von Franken claimed the castle. Despite the siege, he could not enforce his claims.

The first church in Elberfeld was built before 931, a predecessor of the Old Reformed Church . It was consecrated to St. Lawrence of Rome and is probably one of the churches of triumph and thanksgiving that were built after Otto I's victory over the Hungarians in the battle of the Lechfeld . The first actual documented mention of the Laurentius Church did not take place until 1371. The patronage was later taken over by the new main church of St. Laurentius .

In 1161 a Schulte ( Villicus ) from Tafelhof Elverfeldt was first mentioned in a document. The Archbishop of Cologne, Philipp I von Heinsberg , pledged the monasteries in Elberfeld and Hilden for 400 marks to Count Engelbert von Berg as a leasehold in 1176 because he needed money for the crusade of Emperor Barbarossa .

On August 9th, 1366 knight Johann von Elverfeld sold the fiefdom "Burg und Herrschaft Elverfeld" to knight "Engelbrecht Sobbe". Ten days later on August 19th, Cologne's Archbishop Engelbert III confirmed. this fief to the knight Sobbe.

In 1402, according to a document, Engelbrecht's son "Johann Sobbe" sells Elverfeld Castle and Lordship to the Archbishop of Cologne. In another document from 1409, Wilhelm von Nesselrode confirms to the Archbishop of Cologne that he is his bailiff in Elverfeld and that all services rendered to the archbishopric have been paid. In accordance with an agreed right of repurchase, Johann von Sobbe again acquired the castle and lordship of Elverfeld in 1414 and confirmed to the Archbishop of Cologne that this property was a fiefdom of the Cologne resident. According to a marriage contract between Adolph von Quade and Metzin von Elvervelde, the latter was the daughter of Johann von Sobbe, the castle and glory Elvervelde belonged to the dowry. The couple were therefore able to sell the castle and the glory to Duke Adolf von Jülich-Berg in 1427.

In 1397 Wilhelm II von Berg tried to assert claims against his nephews Adolf von Kleve and Dietrich II von der Mark . He was defeated by his nephews at the Battle of Kleverhamm and taken prisoner. In order to raise the enormous sum of 3,000 gold shields for release, he subsequently pledged large parts of his property to the victors, including Elberfeld Castle, until 1399 . The three sons of Wilhelm II von Berg, Adolf , Gerhard and Wilhelm, did not accept the loss, occupied their father's palace in Düsseldorf , temporarily deposed their father and began a military dispute with their Brandenburg cousins. The ensuing fighting formed the climax of the Bergisch-Märkischen feuds .

After the death of Dietrich II von der Mark, probably during the siege of Elberfeld Castle, the county of Mark fell to Adolf von Kleve. At this time, Eberhard von Limburg (husband of Johann's sister Anna Sobbe and Adolf VII von Jülich-Berg's follower) was the lord of Elberfeld Castle. The Bergische began to prevail again.

In 1408 Adolf von Berg followed his father to the ducal seat after his death. The Duchy of Jülich fell to him in 1424 and he united it with the Duchy of Berg to form the United Duchy of Jülich-Berg . As already mentioned, he bought Elberfeld Castle with fresh funds in 1427, which, together with the Elberfeld parish, remained a permanent Bergisch property. The parish was then appointed to a Bergisch office .

City foundation

Elberfeld was referred to as " freedom " from 1444 (1530 as a city) and thus had an urban council constitution. However, the city privilege was not granted until 1610 and expanded in 1623.

In 1527 Elberfeld and Barmen received the ducal privilege of yarn food , the exclusive right to bleach and twist yarn within the united duchies. Yarn food formed the basis of the most important branch of industry in Wuppertal for centuries, textile manufacture and trade .

In 1536 Elberfeld Castle and the freedom burned down. The plague broke out in 1631 and burned again in 1678. On May 22, 1687, another city ​​fire in Elberfeld destroyed 350 houses and the entire town center. It was not until 1707 that the town hall was rebuilt for the approx. 3,000 citizens (around 1700) of the city.

Elberfeld in 1702

As Erich Philipp Ploennies in 1715 his Topographia Ducatus Montani of the Duchy of Berg wrote, he put this in the description of Elberfeld determined that in 1678 first half and in 1687 "was laid entirely in the ashes" and "nothing there From left stayed ” . The immediate and generous help of the sovereign for the rapid reconstruction of the city of Elberfeld and the production facilities was decisive here as well: “Because of misfortunes, namely this city ... completely burned down, from the ... izo ruling elector. .. Johann Wilhelm has been given 20 years of freedom from the date of the damage, in which time you should be free from all charges and taxes, so this city will soon recover and Vorizo ​​will be in a good position again ”.

French rule

After the French took over the Duchy of Berg in 1806, Elberfeld was given the municipal constitution . The Elberfeld office is dissolved and the Elberfeld arrondissement and the Elberfeld canton are established.

Survey on mayor's office

After the transition to Prussia in 1815, Elberfeld became the seat of a district that was formed from the mayorships of Elberfeld and Barmen . In 1820 the municipalities of the Mettmann district were affiliated to him. Elberfeld itself was appointed mayor.

In the early modern period there was extensive proto- industrial production of yarns and textiles, which in 1527 led to a location-specific ducal production privilege ( yarn food ), and industrialization began rapidly in the neighboring Wupper towns of Elberfeld and Barmen from the end of the 18th century . In the middle of the 19th century, Elberfeld and Barmen were the most highly industrialized cities in Germany, whose economic importance put later economic centers such as Cologne , Düsseldorf or the Ruhr area in the shade. The now consistently mechanized textile industry was followed by supporting branches such as the chemical industry, which initially devoted itself to the development of textile dyes ( Bayer AG's main plant is in Elberfeld), mechanical engineering (textile machines) and electrical engineering. In addition, Elberfeld developed into a trading center with high turnover, which mainly sells local products ( Barmer items ) worldwide. The growth of the economy was followed by a considerable increase in the population, the growth of which consisted primarily of the immigrant workforce. Between 1830 and 1885 the population quadrupled and Elberfeld, like neighboring Barmen, which developed in a similar way, grew into a large city.

Poststrasse in the city center, 1912

In 1841 the first steam-powered railway was opened in western Germany. It led from Düsseldorf to Elberfeld- Steinbeck . The revolution of 1848/1849 also led to barricades and street fights in Elberfeld .

Due to the rapid industrialization in "German Manchester ", as Elberfeld was also called in relation to the British industrial city, the social problems of pauperism first appeared, but efforts to solve the social question with civic engagement also originated in Elberfeld. The Elberfeld model for poor relief and social provision introduced in 1853 was adopted in Hamburg and other cities.

In 1854 the businessman Hermann Heinrich Grafe founded the first Free Evangelical Congregation in Elberfeld together with five other men , which thus also laid the foundation for the later founding of the Federation of Free Evangelical Congregations in Germany . As early as 1846, Johann Gregor Breuer founded the first Catholic journeyman's association in Germany, which was led by the well-known priest Adolph Kolping between 1847 and 1849 in Elberfeld. This idea was also a cornerstone for further associations throughout Germany. On June 1, 1861 Elberfeld left the Elberfeld district and formed its own urban district . The synagogue , which fell victim to the Reichspogromnacht in 1938, was completed in 1865 . The Old Synagogue Wuppertal meeting place has been located at its former location since 1994 .

Around 1885 the population of Elberfeld exceeded the 100,000 mark and became a major city .

City merger to form the city of Wuppertal

Through the law on the municipal reorganization of the Rhenish-Westphalian industrial area of July 29, 1929, Elberfeld was initially united with the cities of Barmen , Cronenberg , Ronsdorf and Vohwinkel to "Barmen-Elberfeld". In the same year the city council of the newly founded municipality decided to propose to the Prussian State Ministry that the city be renamed "Wuppertal". The proposal, on which a public consultation took place, was approved in January 1930.

Population development

Population development of Elberfeld (red) compared to the population development of Barmen (green), which was almost the same, and Wuppertal (blue) according to a table in the article Population development of Wuppertal

The following overview shows the number of inhabitants according to the respective territorial status. Up to 1810 these are mostly estimates, then census results (¹) or official updates from the respective statistical offices or the city administration itself. From 1871 onwards, the information relates to the "local population" and 1925 to the resident population . Before 1871, the number of inhabitants was determined according to inconsistent survey procedures.

Year / date Residents
1610 2,500
1687 3,000
1773 7,500
1780 8,695
1800 12,000
1807 16,900
1810 18,783
December 1, 1831 ¹ 25,418
December 1, 1840 ¹ 31,514
December 3, 1852 ¹ 40,500
date Residents
December 3, 1855 ¹ 41,080
December 3, 1858 ¹ 48,700
December 3, 1861 ¹ 56,300
December 3, 1864¹ 62,000
December 3, 1867 ¹ 65,300
December 1, 1871 ¹ 71,384
December 1, 1875 ¹ 80,589
December 1, 1880¹ 93,538
December 1, 1885 ¹ 106,499
December 1, 1890¹ 125,899
date Residents
December 2, 1895 ¹ 139,337
December 1, 1900 ¹ 156.966
December 1, 1905 ¹ 162,853
December 1, 1910¹ 170.195
December 1, 1916 ¹ 142,673
December 5, 1917 ¹ 136,703
October 8, 1919 ¹ 157.218
June 16, 1925 ¹ 167.025
December 31, 1928 173.235

¹ census result

Elberfeld's coat of arms

coat of arms

The heraldic animal is the lion of the Duchy of Berg and holds a grate, the symbol of the patron saint Lawrence of Rome .


Mayor and Lord Mayor

Honorary citizen

sons and daughters of the town

Other personalities in the city


Loan from the city of Elberfeld for 1000 marks from March 1, 1922
The Elberfeld chicken, the Schlotterkamm
  • Elberfeld became known to a wider public through Loriot's sketch “The School of Behavior” . The sketch says, among other things, that Elberfeld has a “first-class arts and crafts school”. This passage is one of the most popular Loriot quotes.
  • The Bergischer Schlotterkamm chicken breed was also known in French as "Poule d'Elberfeld".


  • Karl Lempens: History of the city of Elberfeld from the oldest times to the present . Loewenstein, Elberfeld 1888 ( digitized edition of the University and State Library Düsseldorf ).
  • Annals of the city of Elberfeld: enth. D. Events d. Year. ( Digitized edition of the University and State Library Düsseldorf )
  • Johann Rütger Brüning : Elberfeld and its civil constitution, from the fifteenth century to the most recent times. Elberfeld 1830. (digitized version)
  • Zentralblatt der Bauverwaltung. XXVII. 1907, No. 21, p. 142: Road openings and road regulations in Elberfeld. (with city maps from 1870 and 1905)
  • Zentralblatt der Bauverwaltung. XXVII. 1907, No. 72, p. 477: Development plan for a site in the north of the city of Elberfeld.
  • Hinrich Heyken: The East of Elberfeld - from bleachers and dyers, textile industry and district court, theater and insurance. ( PDF file; 4.7 MB ).
  • Edmund Strutz: The pedigree of the Elberfeld mayors and city judges from 1708–1808. (= Bergische Research Volume III). 2nd Edition. Neustadt ad Aisch, 1963.
  • Heinrich Born (ed.): The city of Elberfeld. Festschrift for the three-century celebration in 1910. Elberfeld 1910.
  • Hinrich Heyken: City history Hofaue - street of the textile industry and textile wholesale. ( PDF file; 0.3 MB )
  • Bergischer Geschichtsverein, Dept. Wuppertal et al. (Ed.): 400 years of Elberfeld city rights. (= History in Wuppertal. 19). 2010. ISSN  1436-008X
  • Daniela-Nadine Reiher, Hermann-Peter Eberlein (Hrsg.): Hermann Klugkist Hesse: Elberfeld and his church in the Middle Ages and in the Thirty Years War. Came 2013, ISBN 978-3-89991-147-3 .
  • Address and citizen handbook for the city of Elberfeld together with the mayor and community of Sonnborn. Loewenstein, Elberfeld 1877–1885. Digitized

See also

Web links

Wikisource: Wuppertal  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Otto Schell : Bergische Sagen . Baedeker, 1897.
  2. Stefan Seitz: Historical find: coffin remains proves: Elberfeld older than assumed. In: Wuppertaler Rundschau. Retrieved January 9, 2017 .
  3. ^ Theodor Joseph Lacomblet, in: Document book for the history of the Lower Rhine or the Archbishopric of Cöln, document 455. 1840, part 1, p. [335] 319. Online edition 2009
  4. Theodor Joseph Lacomblet, in: Document book for the history of the Lower Rhine or the Archbishopric of Cöln, document 669 + 670. 1853, part 3, 1301–1400, p.
  5. Theodor Joseph Lacomblet, in: Document book for the history of the Lower Rhine or the Archbishopric of Cöln under remarks on documents 669 + 670. 1853, part 3, 1301–1400, p. [580] 568.
  6. Theodor Joseph Lacomblet, in: Document book for the history of the Lower Rhine or the Archbishopric of Cöln, Document 182 . 1858, Volume 4, 1401-1609, p. [240] 214.
  7. Cf. Deductio historica… In terms of the Franckfurther Magistrate, Contra Die Elberfelder- and Barmer-Handels-Leuthe… In terms of the Franckfurther Leinwands-Haus . Caspar Proper Sons, Mülheim am Rhein 1726 ( Google Books ).
  8. ^ Official journal for the administrative district of Düsseldorf 1861, p. 250 f.
  9. ^ Markus Burgdorf: Website about the composer Franz-Josef Breuer. January 30, 2017, accessed January 30, 2017 .
  10. T. Büchi: Beurselaub - Pictures from four centuries of securities trading, p. 69
  11. ^ Jörg Thomann: The great Loriot Lexicon. In: FAZ.net . November 12, 2003, accessed December 12, 2014 .

Coordinates: 51 ° 15 '  N , 7 ° 9'  E