Ruhr area

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Germany map
Situation in Germany
Basic data
Country: Germany
Country : North Rhine-Westphalia
Area : 4,435 km²
Structure: 4 districts ,
11 independent cities
Residents: 5,111,530 (Dec. 31, 2018)
Population density : 1152 inhabitants / km²
Proportion of foreigners : 16.1% (Dec. 31, 2018)
Unemployment rate : 10.4% (July 30, 2017)
Location and cities of the Ruhr area in North Rhine-Westphalia
Niederlande Belgien Niedersachsen Rheinland-Pfalz Hessen Essen Wuppertal Solingen Remscheid Hagen Ennepe-Ruhr-Kreis Bochum Dortmund Herne Gelsenkirchen Bottrop Oberhausen Mülheim an der Ruhr Duisburg Kreis Mettmann Düsseldorf Rhein-Kreis Neuss Kreis Heinsberg Mönchengladbach Krefeld Kreis Viersen Kreis Wesel Kreis Kleve Rhein-Erft-Kreis Kreis Düren Rheinisch-Bergischer Kreis Oberbergischer Kreis Kreis Recklinghausen Kreis Borken Kreis Unna Märkischer Kreis Kreis Olpe Hamm Kreis Soest Kreis Coesfeld Kreis Steinfurt Kreis Warendorf Leverkusen Köln Städteregion Aachen Bonn Rhein-Sieg-Kreis Städteregion Aachen Kreis Euskirchen Münster Kreis Siegen-Wittgenstein Hochsauerlandkreis Kreis Paderborn Kreis Gütersloh Kreis Höxter Kreis Lippe Kreis Herford Kreis Minden-Lübbecke BielefeldLocation of the LVR in North Rhine-Westphalia
About this picture

The Ruhr area has approximately 5.1 million inhabitants and an area of 4,438.69 square kilometers, the largest metropolitan area in Germany and the fifth largest in Europe. The name of this densely populated central North Rhine-Westphalian region is the river Ruhr, which runs along the southern edge . With its likewise densely populated surrounding area and the metropolitan areas on the Rhine , which extend far into the Cologne Bay , it forms the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region , in which around ten million people live in an area of ​​around 7,000 square kilometers. It is the central part of the European mega-region " Blue Banana ". Plans to create a Ruhr Metropolis are often summarized under the term Ruhrstadt . In 2010, the Ruhr area was, under the abbreviation RUHR.2010, alongside Pécs (Hungary) and Istanbul, European Capital of Culture .

The Ruhr area is essentially made up of several large cities that have grown together . From the settlements on the central Lower Rhine , the urban landscape merges seamlessly to the east into the Rhine-Ruhr area and to the south into the Rhine line . The regional centers and core cities of the Ruhr area, Dortmund , Essen , Duisburg and Bochum , arose as early as the Middle Ages along the Westphalian Hellweg and achieved their present structure with industrialization and mining in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The term Ruhr area is usually based on the boundaries of the settlement association Ruhrkohlengebiet , founded in 1920, today's Regional Association Ruhr (RVR). The RVR includes the independent cities of Bochum , Bottrop , Dortmund , Duisburg , Essen , Gelsenkirchen , Hagen , Hamm , Herne , Mülheim an der Ruhr and Oberhausen as well as the districts of Recklinghausen , Unna , Wesel and the Ennepe-Ruhr district , which make up the parts of the Rhineland and Westphalia belong. The following data refer to the administrative area of ​​the RVR.


Panorama of the western Ruhr area (with markings)
The center of the “ Metropole Ruhr ” at Rolandstrasse 49 in Röhlinghausen

The regional association Ruhr determined the spatial extent and the boundaries of the Ruhr area in 2012. In this context, the center of the Ruhr area was calculated between the westernmost and easternmost as well as the northernmost and southernmost points. The intersection and thus the center of the "Ruhr Metropolis" is located in Herne district Röhlinghausen at the Rolandstr. 49 in 51 ° 31 '3 "  N , 7 ° 8' 42"  O . At this point, a granite stone with the inscription “You are at the geographical center of the Ruhr area in Herne-Röhlinghausen” was placed on the edge of the sidewalk.

Natural space

The Ruhr area has a share in several natural units. The urban landscape lies at the intersection of the Westphalian lowland plain , the Lower Rhine plain and the Rhenish slate mountains . North of the Lippe are the natural units of the Westmünsterland and the Kernmünsterland . South of the Ruhr it extends into the Bergisch and Märkische hill country. To the north of the Ruhr are the loess plains of the Westenhellweg natural area . The Emscherland lies between the Lippe and the Westenhellweg . The Emscher separates the Westphalian Bay from the Rhenish Slate Mountains. The cornerstones are Wesel in the northwest (Wesel district), Duisburg in the southwest , Hagen in the southeast and Hamm in the northeast . The west-east extension from Sonsbeck to Hamm is 116 kilometers, the north-south extension from Haltern am See to Breckerfeld is 67 kilometers.

According to the regional association Ruhr (RVR), 37.6 percent of the area of ​​the Ruhr area is built on. 40.7 percent of the area is used for agriculture . The proportion of forest is 17.6 percent. The remaining shares are accounted for by bodies of water and other areas. The relatively high proportion of forest and agricultural areas for an industrial region is initially explained by the four predominantly rural districts that also belong to the RVR . In addition, the urban districts of the Ruhr area also have a rural character in their outskirts. This includes the Siepentall landscape , which the incorporation agreements concluded at the beginning of the 20th century had classified as "valleys" worthy of protection. The Ruhr coal district settlement association also had the goal of preventing the individual cities from growing together and preventing urban sprawl . To this end, he bought up plots of land from 1923, kept them free from buildings of any kind and planned them as regional green corridors. Its north-south course has been preserved to this day between the cities in the agglomeration of the Ruhr area despite fundamental conflicting goals.


Map of the settlement structure of the Ruhr area

Viewed on a map, one could consider the Ruhr area to be a single large city, since there are no recognizable boundaries between the individual cities, at least in the west-east extension. The Ruhr area can be described as a polycentric urban landscape. One speaks in this context of the Ruhrstadt or "Metropole Ruhr". The area is characterized by its similar urban and economic geographic development.

Due to its history, the Ruhr area is structured differently than monocentric agglomerations such as Paris , which were created through the rapid merging of smaller towns and cities with a core city . The individual cities and districts of the Ruhr area grew independently of one another during industrialization . The population density of the core zone of the Ruhr area is just under 2,280 inhabitants per square kilometer.

Population, area and population density in the Ruhr area in 2018
City / district Residents surface Population density inh. Per km²
Bochum 364,628 145.66 2,503
Bottrop 117,383 100.61 1,167
Dortmund 587.010 280.71 2,091
Duisburg 498,590 232.8 2.142
Ennepe-Ruhr district 324.296 409.64 792
eat 583.109 210.34 2,772
Gelsenkirchen 260,654 104.94 2,484
Hagen 188.814 160.45 1,177
Hamm 179.111 226.43 791
Herne 156.374 51.42 3,041
Mülheim an der Ruhr 170,880 91.28 1,872
Oberhausen 210,829 77.09 2,735
Recklinghausen district 615.261 761.31 808
Unna district 394,782 543.21 727
Wesel district 459,809 1,042.8 441
Ruhr area (total) 5,111,530 4,438.69 1,152

The transitions between the cities are characterized by loose suburban development, undeveloped areas and sometimes even by agricultural areas. In the core zone of the Ruhr area, the city limits run partially across densely built-up suburbs and are difficult to see. Often the change of urban area cannot even be seen from a change in street names, as the streets in the peripheral areas can cross the city limits several times and, in order to avoid confusion, are consistently named and numbered.

The development of the Ruhr area from the original natural area to the location of the coal and steel industry and the rapid settlement during industrialization is a frequently chosen research subject in anthropogeography . For example, the settlement history of the Ruhr area is currently being examined in relation to the classic system of central locations .

In the course of the recultivation of industrial wasteland , new park landscapes and local recreation areas such as the Hoheward landscape park in the northern Ruhr area are being created. Along the Emscher, which has only been partially renatured , the Emscher Landscape Park , which connects the regional green corridors created by the SVR in a north-south direction , forms a green belt between the cities running in an east-west direction. The numerous gardens and parks in the region are part of the European Garden Heritage Network .


Minor coal seams (Namur C, Upper Carboniferous) in a quarry in Wetter (Ruhr)

Geologically , the Ruhr area is regularly defined by the occurrence of coal-bearing layers of the Upper Carboniferous, more or less independent of their depth. The coal seams graze the surface along the Ruhr and sink to the north. At the height of the lip they are at a depth of 600 to 800 meters. The thickness of the layers is on average 1–3 meters. The geology of the subsoil was decisive for the development of coal mining in the Ruhr area. It is related to the formation of the supercontinent Pangea . At the beginning of the Variscan ore formation 400 to 300 million years ago in the Devonian and Carboniferous periods (the name means coal age ) the rise of ore solutions began in the course of the mountain formation on tectonic fault lines and some ore deposits were formed .

Simultaneously with the rise of the Rhenish Slate Mountains in the Upper Carboniferous, the northern foreland subsided, into which sediments were periodically poured. Over millions of years , the sedimentation environment alternated between a shallow sea , the formation of river deltas and siltation by eroded sediments from the new mountains. In that time warm, humid air could be great Moore form, which were often covered with a layer of sandy sediments powerful what the coalification caused the plant material. Hundreds of coal-bearing layers were created in the underground. Of these, however, only those 70–80 seams that are sufficiently thick are and are worth mining . The large-scale subsidence meant that today near Witten (southern edge of the Ruhr area) the coal reaches up to the surface of the earth, but is about 1500 meters deep on the northern edge (for example near Marl ).


Prussian General Staff Map Essen, 1st half of the 19th century: The upper half of the map shows the predominantly agricultural settlement structure of the Ruhr area at the beginning of
industrialization , which was dominated by a few towns and first industrial villages .
Rhenish-Westphalian coal area 1896
Old illustration of St. Antony's hut
Overview map of the general strike in the Ruhr area in 1905 ( Die Woche , 3/1905)

The Ruhr area in the 18th century

At the end of the 18th century, the landscape of today's Ruhr area resembled the Münsterland, the Lower Rhine or the Soester Börde. Individual cities, including several Hanseatic cities , especially on Hellweg , as well as freedoms and villages shaped by agriculture determined the picture. At the beginning of the 19th century, Duisburg and Dortmund were the largest cities with only about 5,000 inhabitants. At the same time, more than 11,000 people were already living in the Mülheim an der Ruhr municipality in the south of the region. In contrast, Gelsenkirchen and Herne in the northern Emscherland only had a few hundred inhabitants at that time.


Individual ironworks formed the early nucleus of industrialization . The St.-Antony-Hütte in Oberhausen-Osterfeld , which was built in 1758 , the Gutehoffnungshütte in Oberhausen-Sterkrade , founded in 1782, and the Neu-Essen ironworks in Oberhausen-Lirich, where production began in 1791, deserve special mention. Here, important iron production technologies emerged early on in the smelting of the mined ores using charcoal .

Coal was mined as early as the 13th century, but at that time it was not possible to speak of mining , but rather of coal digging . The Muttental near Witten was a starting point for mining in the Ruhr . 1755 there were nearly 200 coal mines in the Ruhr area, in 1850 there were already almost 300. In coking plants was from coal coke produced in the blast furnaces of the settled iron and steel works was needed for iron and steel production. Even before the coal reserves along the Ruhr were exhausted, new mines were built further north. The Ruhr mining migrated, following the seams into the depths, from south to north, from the Ruhr to the Emscher and finally to the Lippe . According to Roland Günter, there have been around 3,200 collieries in the Ruhr area in around 200 years of mining. The development of the Ruhr area as a supplier of coal and steel required the construction of railway lines and the expansion of waterways.

Economic expansion made it necessary to recruit new workers . The population grew explosively. The reason for this was immigration from other parts of Germany, but also an above-average birth rate. If she had five children per woman in the German Empire, almost six children per woman were born in the Ruhr area. While Bochum still had 2,200 inhabitants in 1800, the number grew to 65,000 by the turn of the century and to 117,000 in 1905. Former villages along the Emscher also developed into large cities . Skilled workers in the mines often found their homes in newly built workers' settlements , so-called colliery colonies . In the following decades the growing Ruhrkohlenbezirk the largest industrial conurbation in Europe. Since the beginning of the coal crisis in 1957 and especially with the onset of the steel crisis since 1973 and the subsequent economic crisis , the Ruhr area has been in a sustained phase of structural change , which is characterized by economic adjustment difficulties.

Regional particularities

Names of the region

The most common names of the region are Ruhrgebiet or Revier . In the colloquial language, the negative connotations coal pot , Ruhr pot or Pott are used.

For a long time, different names were used for the region: expressions such as Rheinisch-Westfälischer Industriegebiet , Rheinisch-Westfälisches Industriegebiet , Niederrheinisch-Westfälisches Industriegebiet or Ruhrrevier often also included areas that are not part of the later Ruhr area, such as industrial areas in the Bergisches Land or around Düsseldorf. In the postage cards of the German Reich practically the entire area of ​​present-day North Rhine-Westphalia was recorded under the name Rheinisch-Westfälisches Industriegebiet . In contrast, the Ruhr area was initially only understood to mean the narrower catchment area of ​​the Ruhr River . In this sense, these terms are hardly used today.

The name Ruhrgebiet , which is common today , was coined in the course of the 1920s and only became a permanent name for the industrial region around 1930. In accordance with its geographical location, the core region should rather be called the "Emscher area", as the course of the Ruhr already marks the southern edge of the Ruhr area, while the Emscher flows right through it. However, the hard coal mining, which has shaped the industrial development of the region since the 1830s, actually began in the Ruhr valley between Essen and Mülheim and from there migrated north to the deeper deposits.

The term Metropole Ruhr is also used for the Ruhr area . Together with the Rhine the Ruhr region forms the region Rhein-Ruhr or the Rhein-Ruhr area .

Local population

There is no generally recognized self-designation for people living in the Ruhr area. Most residents consider themselves primarily residents of their respective hometowns, i.e. they would describe themselves as Dortmund , Essen , etc. Occasionally one finds the term "Ruhri" when it is to be expressed that the Ruhr area as a whole is meant as a home region. The use of this term by outsiders can, however, lead to irritations because of its sometimes disrespectful character. After Essen was elected European Capital of Culture for 2010 ( RUHR.2010 ), an image campaign entitled “Ruhri.2010” was started at the end of 2008, which was intended to make the term better known as a term for people living in the Ruhr area. The West German Broadcasting Corporation regularly used the expression “Ruhri der Woche” in its regional program in the run-up to the Capital of Culture year.


The prevailing perception of the Ruhr area as an industrial unit led to the language of the people living there being described as a unified Ruhr German . The variety of dialects spoken in the Ruhr area , however, is High German with Low German substrates. The often alleged influences from Polish immigrants around 1900 can only be recognized in isolated terms in the vocabulary, such as the Polish words Mottek (sledgehammer) and Matka (mother). But even these terms are hardly part of the active vocabulary of the local population.

Historically, the region on the Rhine, Ruhr, Emscher and Lippe was part of the Dutch and Lower Saxony language area. In particular, a distinction could be made between Lower Rhine and Westphalian . But the number of speakers of Low German is now vanishingly small. The maintenance of these historical languages ​​can usually be found in special groups in local history associations. Courses at adult education centers also occasionally teach the active use of old dialects. In Mülheim, for example, we have been offering We Learn Mölmsch Platt since 1984 .

Administrative structure

Regional Association Ruhr

Map of the administrative structure of the Ruhr area

The Ruhr area is primarily administered by the cities and districts of the Ruhr area themselves, which are united in a special purpose association . The Ruhr Regional Association (RVR) is based in Essen. The association is particularly responsible for regional planning, which is decisive for the municipalities' land use plans. It includes, among other things, the representation of areas for future residential construction areas, areas for the settlement of new businesses and the planning of subsequent uses of former mining sites in the region.

The association includes the independent cities of Bochum , Bottrop , Dortmund , Duisburg , Essen , Gelsenkirchen , Hagen , Hamm , Herne , Mülheim an der Ruhr and Oberhausen as well as the Ennepe-Ruhr district and the districts of Recklinghausen , Unna and Wesel .

The administrative districts of Arnsberg , Düsseldorf and Münster are also involved in the administration . The western Ruhr area with the cities of Essen, Duisburg, Oberhausen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and the Wesel district is part of the Düsseldorf administrative district. The cities of Dortmund, Bochum, Herne, Hamm, Hagen, the district of Unna and the Ennepe-Ruhr district are parts of the Arnsberg administrative district. The Emscher-Lippe area with the Recklinghausen district and the cities of Gelsenkirchen and Bottrop is administered by Münster.

In addition, the towns and districts of the district belong to the respective Rhineland Regional Association (cities in the Düsseldorf administrative district) or the Westphalia-Lippe Regional Association (cities in the Arnsberg and Münster administrative districts).

Overall, it is particularly noticeable in the administration of the Ruhr area that most of the administrative structures essentially relate to the historical-political structure of the Prussian provinces of the Rhine Province and Westphalia , so that it is not yet possible to speak of a uniform administration of the Ruhr area.

Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region

The Ruhr area is part of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region and, with its slightly more than five million inhabitants, is one of the largest metropolitan areas alongside Île-de-France (Greater Paris ), Moscow , Greater London , Milan , the Randstad in the Netherlands and Istanbul Europe. The entire metropolitan region has around 10 million inhabitants and was created in 1995 by the Ministerial Conference for Spatial Planning , which in Germany decides on so-called European metropolitan regions . The Ruhr area is thus also part of the European Spatial Development Concept (ESDP) drawn up by the European Commission in 1999 .


Structural development

Zeche Zollern in Dortmund

With the structural change , the coal and steel industry in the Ruhr area lost its importance, but coal and steel companies such as RAG Aktiengesellschaft , Evonik Industries or ThyssenKrupp still have their headquarters and largest production sites in the Ruhr area. The share of employees in the primary and secondary sector was still 28% in 2008. In the period from 1996 to 2012, the share of those employed in the manufacturing sector in the economy as a whole fell from 31.0% to 21.4%. At the same time, the share of people in employment in the service sector rose from 68.5% to 78.3% (Germany: from 66.5% to 73.6%).

Energy, services, food

According to a survey by the daily Die Welt , 37 of the 500 largest companies in the Federal Republic of Germany are based in the Ruhr area, 16 of which can be assigned to the industrial sector and 21 to the trade and service sector. The service sector is represented by the corporate headquarters of energy and water suppliers such as Amprion , RWE and E.ON Ruhrgas , the Signal-Iduna insurance industry , Continentale Krankenversicherung , and retail groups such as the Aldi Group, Douglas Holding , Arcandor and Tengelmann .

Due to its good infrastructural connection, the Ruhr area is one of the most important logistics locations in Germany and Europe. Numerous companies in the logistics sector have their headquarters here, Rhenus , Imperial Logistics and LOXX, or central logistics and distribution centers with a European reach, IKEA , Amazon or Decathlon . In 2016, Dortmund was recognized as a digital hub in the field of logistics within the Digital Hub Initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and, alongside Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Frankfurt, acted as the engine for digitization in Germany.

In addition, there are countless retailers in the inner cities, which are often designated as pedestrian zones, and in the shopping centers Thier-Galerie Dortmund, Ruhr-Park Bochum, RheinRuhrZentrum Mülheim an der Ruhr, Limbecker Platz (shopping center) Essen and CentrO Oberhausen.

The Ruhr area and especially Dortmund with the type of brewing " Dortmunder Export " was known for its breweries. Many breweries are now closed, even if the well-known brand names are continued. In contrast, the Ruhr area has numerous smaller private breweries in the cities, for example the Fiege brewery in Bochum or the Stauder brewery in Essen.


All the major regional daily newspapers in the region belong to the Funke Mediengruppe or Ruhr Nachrichten (RN). After the end of the Taz Ruhr in 2005, the picture is the only national daily newspaper with a Ruhr area edition. There are also a number of city and scene magazines in the Ruhr area. The city ​​magazine, which appears nationwide today as Prinz , had its origin in 1978 in Herne under the name Peephole . In addition to the Prinz , who is still represented in the region with a regional editorial office in Duisburg, the free titles Coolibri , Heinz , Smag and trailer appear . With the business magazine Ruhr there is also a magazine with this topic for the Ruhr area. Transfer magazine also deals with science in the area .

The West German Broadcasting (WDR) maintains studios in Essen, Dortmund and Duisburg. The regional programs for the central Ruhr area are produced and broadcast in Essen. In Dortmund, WDR produces the program Planet Wissen and the regional program for the eastern Ruhr area. In addition to various contributions for other WDR programs, the complete daily program of WDR 4 is also broadcast from here . The regional program for the Lower Rhine and for the western Ruhr area around Duisburg and the Wesel district is being developed in Duisburg . The Turkish broadcaster Kanal Avrupa is also based there. Studio 47 , based in Duisburg, is the first private local television broadcaster in North Rhine-Westphalia. The television station Sat.1 also has a studio in Dortmund. The program 17:30 is produced there. The Adolf Grimme Institute , based in Marl , awards the renowned television award Grimme Prize every year .

In contrast to the other large metropolitan areas in Germany, the entire Ruhr area is traditionally not an exposed media location. Gradually, however, a respectable agency landscape is also establishing itself here. Currently (as of 2012) the three largest advertising agencies in the Ruhr area are Westpress in Hamm with a turnover of 24.7 million euros, B&W Media-Service in Essen (20 million euros) and Move Elevator in Oberhausen (15 million euros).

Labor market situation

The total unemployment rate in the Ruhr area is around 10.5%, making it the highest in the western German federal states among the greater regions. The unemployment rates of individual cities in the core zone of the Ruhr area are among the highest in the old federal states: In Gelsenkirchen the unemployment rate is 14.2%, Duisburg 13.3%, Herne 12.8%, Essen 12.1% and Dortmund 11.6 % (all unemployment rates as of February 2017).

A defining structural feature of the former mining industrial core zones of the Ruhr area is the rate of female employment, which is still well below the national average. In North Rhine-Westphalia (and Saarland) fewer women work full-time jobs than in any other federal state. In 2013, only 28 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 64 worked full-time here. In 2014, only 47.5 percent of women in North Rhine-Westphalia were employed subject to social security contributions (in comparison: 58.5 percent in Saxony). This is mainly due to the low rate in the Ruhr area cities such as Gelsenkirchen (39.7 percent) and Herne (40.7 percent). This has to do with the shift work systems in heavy industry, but also with the comparatively high wages of men in the past, which made it necessary to provide “all-round care” for the working men (change of linen, etc.) and did not make it appear necessary for the women to “earn extra” . Due to the below-average number of services in the industrial regions, many families lived almost as self-sufficient in settlements far away from the city center with gardens, small livestock, etc. Conversely, the low female employment rate in the Ruhr area is still one of the reasons why service companies find it difficult to find highly qualified full-time women here. Industries with a high proportion of low-skilled female employees had to settle near the main train stations in order to be able to recruit workers at all because of the deficits in local transport. This was especially true for the clothing industry.

Social structure

In many parts of the Ruhr area, the federal motorway 40 marks a “social equator”, a border between the poorer north and the more prosperous south. This dichotomy is particularly evident within the central cities of Duisburg , Essen , Bochum and Dortmund , in which the southern districts often have significantly higher income structures than the mostly poorer northern districts. However, there are also clear differences between the northern and southern peripheral communities of the Ruhr area. While the average incomes in smaller to medium-sized northern cities such as Gladbeck , Herten , Marl , Lünen , Bergkamen and Bönen are well below the national average, they are sometimes significantly lower in smaller southern and southeastern cities such as Sprockhövel , Ennepetal , Herdecke , Schwerte and Holzwickede above the national average.

The emigration of more capable, more educated people in parts of the Ruhr area has resulted in dwindling human wealth and the growth of a precarious , people in uncertain economic circumstances. In addition, there are municipal financial difficulties and deficiencies in the previous structural policy . As a result of faulty problem analyzes and a lack of focus, the measures remained largely ineffective and an improvement in the structures could not be achieved. The poverty report of the social associations in 2016 shows that the poverty rate at 20 percent and the child poverty rate in the Ruhr area at 19 percent are well above the national average. Half of these children live in the household of a single parent. For the first time in 2016, the risk-of-poverty rate among pensioners was also above average at 15.6 percent. Ultimately, unemployment, poverty, precarious living conditions, poor living quarters and higher pollution levels lead to a significantly lower life expectancy.

In a regional economic comparison of German agglomerations from 2008, it was found that the Ruhr area is clearly lagging behind other agglomerations in terms of economic dynamism and employment development and that a trend reversal is not in sight, which has the consequence that the image of the North Rhine-Westphalian economy as a whole is influenced negatively. Although parts of the Ruhr area (especially Dortmund and Essen) are experiencing a gradual turnaround and investments and service levels are increasing, investments, employment and even the proportion of qualified workers are falling in other regions. Between 2008 and 2014, the proportion of Gelsenkirchen's population with a high level of education (master craftsman, technician, university degree) fell sharply from 24,000 to 18,000, but at the same time the proportion of people without any qualifications rose from 83,000 to 92,000.

What is negative for the attractiveness of the Ruhr area for companies is the level of municipal taxes in the Ruhr area, which is well above the national average, due to the very poor financial situation of almost all Ruhr area cities.

Structural change

Reduction and end of coal production

Zollverein Coal Mine World Heritage Site

Since the beginning of the coal crisis in 1957, and increasingly since the mid-1970s, the Ruhr area has been in a sustained phase of structural change that is characterized by economic adjustment difficulties.

The coal mining had already reached the Lippe with the north migration at the beginning of the 20th century , and in some cases it had already exceeded it; plans were still being made in the 1980s by the Radbod colliery to advance into the southern Münsterland north of Hamm. Between 1980 and 2002, about half of the one million manufacturing jobs were lost, while about 300,000 jobs were created in the service sector.

The structural change in the Ruhr zone was completed relatively early. Most of the mines including the small mines on the Ruhr were shut down by 1930. Today the Ruhr valley is a local recreation area.

Attempts were made to limit the negative consequences by means of state subsidies. On December 21, 2018, the Prosper-Haniel mine in Bottrop, the last active hard coal mine in Germany, ceased production.

Establishment of universities and technology centers

Ruhr-University Bochum

An important step from a production to a research location was the establishment of several universities . The University of Bochum was founded in 1962 as the first university in the Ruhr area, and it was also the first in the Federal Republic of Germany. This was followed by the University of Dortmund (1968) and the comprehensive universities of Essen and Duisburg (both 1972), which merged into the University of Duisburg-Essen in 2003 , as well as the Distance University in Hagen (1974). The founding of comprehensive universities, technology centers and advisory institutions were also helpful for the growth in the tertiary sector. In the past few years, the research landscape in the Ruhr area has become more differentiated. In 2009, on the initiative of the state government, the Ruhr West University of Applied Sciences with locations in Mülheim an der Ruhr and Bottrop and the Hamm-Lippstadt University of Applied Sciences added two further state universities of applied sciences .

Vehicle construction and electronics industry

The construction of the three automobile plants of the automaker Opel in Bochum in 1962 can be cited as an example of structural change . The factories offered the “underground” trained locksmiths , electricians etc. a job in a different branch. However, automobile production in Bochum was stopped at the end of 2014. Technology parks , in which small and medium-sized companies produce high technology , are more successful . One example of this is the Dortmund Technology Park .

State measures

The International Building Exhibition Emscher Park (IBA) was active in the Ruhr area from 1989 to 1999 and tried to accompany the structural change. Around two and a half billion euros were invested in the region and fallow industrial sites from disused mines, coking plants and steelworks were preserved as industrial monuments and new uses were developed, such as the Emscher Landscape Park . Similarly, the cabin is Duisburg-Meiderich as a landscape park Duisburg-Nord been vice uses the disused Gasometer Oberhausen has been converted into an exhibition hall. Further examples of new uses are the Nordsternpark in Gelsenkirchen, the Bottrop Tetraeder , the Essen Schurenbachhalde , the Duisburg inner harbor , the Jahrhunderthalle in Bochum and the Phoenix lake in Dortmund. Since the mid-1990s, the Emscher , for a long time the canalised sewer of the Ruhr area, has been renatured.

Shift towards the service sector

Some large corporations set new priorities, especially in the area of ​​information and communication technology as well as environmental protection. Some companies shut down their activities in the Ruhr area, such as the former steel producer and processor Mannesmann , and concentrated on new business areas.

Overall, the service industry recorded the greatest upturn. In 2012 around 3/4 of the employees worked in the service sector. Due to the convenient location in the EU and the favorable property offer, logistics companies and large retail chains have settled in the region.

A major project that is often viewed as a sign of structural change is the Neue Mitte Oberhausen, including the CentrO shopping center , which was built on the site of the disused Gutehoffnungshütte in the mid-1990s.


The world's largest mining museum in Bochum

Industrial history and museums

The Route of Industrial Culture is a themed touristic route that heads for the most important industrial-historical sites in the Ruhr area and serves as a starting point for marketing the Ruhr area as a tourist region.

In the Ruhr area there are numerous technology and industrial museums such as the German Mining Museum in Bochum, the Museum of German Inland Shipping in Duisburg, the Recklinghausen substation , the DASA - Working World Exhibition and the Hoesch Museum in Dortmund, the Bochum-Dahlhausen Railway Museum in Bochum and the decentralized museums Westfälisches Industriemuseum and Rheinisches Industriemuseum . There are also several art museums in the Ruhr area, such as the Folkwang Museum in Essen, the Lehmbruck Museum and Museum Küppersmühle in Duisburg, the Ludwig Gallery in Oberhausen Castle , the Karl Ernst Osthaus Museum in Hagen or the Ostwall Museum in Dortmund. With the opening of the Capital of Culture 2010 , the Ruhrland Museum was reopened as the Ruhr Museum in the former coal washing plant of the Zollverein colliery . The Zollverein colliery and coking plant in Essen was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001 . In 2010, Essen was the European Capital of Culture for the region .


Music theater in the Revier in Gelsenkirchen

The theater landscape in the Ruhr area is just as diverse. The most famous theaters include the Schauspielhaus Bochum , the Grillo Theater in Essen and the Oberhausen Theater . Music theater is also represented in the Ruhr area, such as the Musiktheater im Revier in Gelsenkirchen, the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Duisburg, the Aalto Theater in Essen, the Hagen Theater and the Dortmund Opera House with the connected children's opera . There are also concert halls in Bochum , Duisburg, Dortmund and Essen, and amateur stages such as the Waldbühne Heessen in Hamm .

Extra shift in 2009 at the Henrichshütte

In Bochum, the most successful musical in the world, Starlight Express, has been played in the specially built Starlight Express Theater since 1988 .

The most famous regional folk theaters are the Mondpalast in Herne and Stratmanns Theater Europahaus in Essen.

Folk festivals and festivals

Carnival is also celebrated in the Ruhr area . Parades take place in numerous cities, Weiberfastnacht is the main “holiday” for many. The archives of the city of Duisburg contain the first city invoice ever written in German from the year 1377, from which it emerges that the councilors and the citizens extensively celebrated fast evening (Vastavent). The first carnival societies were founded in Duisburg in the second half of the 19th century . The first attempt to establish a Rose Monday procession in Duisburg goes back to 1928. Duisburg is the seat of the Lower Rhine Regional Association in the Bund Deutscher Karneval e. V.

From 2006 to 2010 the Love Parade took place in the Ruhr area. The Love Parade, organized in 2010 as part of the European Capital of Culture events on the site of the former Duisburg freight yard, ended in disaster . In a crowd of thousands of visitors in an underpass , 21 people lost their lives, at least 652 were injured, some seriously.

The Cranger Kirmes , an annual folk festival in Crange , a district of the Wanne district of Herne , which has been taking place for 580 years and attracts around 4,000,000 visitors annually, is one of the largest festivals of its kind in Germany. The festivals taking place in the Ruhr area include the Juicy Beats in Dortmund, the Ruhr Reggae Summer in Dortmund and Mülheim, the Bochum Total in Bochum, the UZ press festival in Dortmund, the Essen Original in Essen, Olgas Rock in Oberhausen, the Traumzeit Festival in Duisburg and Mayday in Dortmund.

European Capital of Culture

The official logo of the European Capital of Culture RUHR.2010

The Ruhrtriennale , the Ruhrfestspiele , the ExtraSchicht and similar large-scale events bear witness to the lively cultural scene in the Ruhr area. Due to the high density of cultural institutions, the Ruhr area successfully applied for European Capital of Culture 2010 under the leadership of the City of Essen : “The power of RUHR.2010 is the ability to change through culture. The European Capital of Culture presents the result of a long and profound process of change in the Ruhr area. Hundreds of cultural institutions, artists and cultural workers in the Ruhr Metropolis have been the basis of this change for years and form one of the richest cultural landscapes in Europe. ”RUHR.2010 shows the status achieved on the basis of selected projects and is a temporary high point of the constant development. The aim is to establish permanent cultural offerings in Europe well beyond 2010 through the targeted selection of projects.

Education and Research

"Mathetower" of the TU Dortmund


Five universities, one art college and fifteen other colleges with around 256,000 enrolled students (WS 2013/14) in 600 courses make the Ruhr area Europe's densest education and research landscape. There are also numerous research institutes and technology centers. The first university in the Ruhr area existed in Duisburg from 1655 to 1818. Most universities, however, were founded in the 1960s and 1970s: The Ruhr University Bochum was founded in 1962, and the University of Dortmund in 1968 . The best-known universities also include the merged University of Duisburg-Essen , the private University of Witten / Herdecke , the Distance University in Hagen and the Folkwang University of the Arts with a focus on music, performing arts and design.

Research institutes and technology parks

The research institutes are closely connected to the universities. Three Max Planck Institutes are based in the Ruhr area: the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Physiology in Dortmund, the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research in Mülheim an der Ruhr and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion also in Mülheim . Four Fraunhofer institutes are located in the Ruhr area: the Oberhausen Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology called UMSICHT , the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics and the Fraunhofer Institute for Software and System Technology in Dortmund as well as the Fraunhofer Institute for microelectronic circuits and systems , Duisburg. The well-known research institutes also include social sciences and humanities such as the Rhenish-Westphalian Institute for Economic Research , the Center for Turkish Studies and the Cultural Studies Institute , all of which are based in Essen; Furthermore, the State Institute for Social Research in Dortmund and the Institute for Labor and Technology in Gelsenkirchen, the State Language Institute in Bochum and the DMT Research Institute for Mining History in Bochum.

Technology parks and start-up centers form the link between universities and business. In TechnologieZentrumDortmund more than 225 companies settled, for example, since 1988, with over 8,500 employees. Companies in the microtechnology sector have a particularly high share. With the science park in Gelsenkirchen, a start-up center specializing in renewable energies was created . The Mülheim Center for Innovation and Technology offers knowledge transfer between medium-sized companies that do not conduct their own research and universities and institutes.


Football enthusiasm of the fans of Borussia Dortmund


The sport of football has in the Ruhr an important social and integrative function. The two largest clubs are FC Schalke 04 and Borussia Dortmund . The meeting of these two clubs is considered a highlight of the season and, like all games between Ruhr area clubs, is referred to as the " Revierderby ". FC Schalke 04 and BVB, together with MSV Duisburg, are founding members of the Bundesliga . With VfL Bochum , founded in 1848, one of the oldest professional clubs in Germany today comes from the Ruhr area. In addition to these clubs, there are a number of other successful clubs in all leagues; the area also has countless amateur and hobby clubs. Many of these associations have their origins in factory teams from smelters and mines.

There is no uniform football association in the Ruhr area. The clubs in the Ruhr area are incorporated into the corresponding associations, the Lower Rhine Football Association , based in Duisburg, or the Westphalia Football and Athletics Association in Kamen .

Athletics and cycling races

The Ruhr Marathon led from 2003 to 2008 per year across central and eastern Ruhr area. The oldest marathon in Germany has been running around the Baldeneysee in Essen since 1963. The Rhine-Ruhr Marathon has been taking place in Duisburg since 1981, making it one of the oldest German city marathons. The Sparkassen Giro Bochum cycle race, which awards points in the world ranking list , leads from downtown Bochum to Stiepel ; the six-day race took place in the Westfalenhalle Dortmund until 2008 .


Road traffic

Bundesautobahn 52 over the Ruhrtalbrücke near Mülheim-Mintard

Around 3.1 million registered motor vehicles were counted in the Ruhr area in 2002. These can drive on 4,700 km of national roads. However, because city, regional and long-distance traffic overlap, especially during peak rush hour traffic, traffic jams often occur. These should be avoided in the future through advanced traffic information systems such as OLSIM , Ruhrpilot and the RVR project Information System Traffic Ruhr Area .

The main axes of motor vehicle traffic in the east-west direction are the three highways A 2 , A 42 and A 40 . The latter, including its further course in Dortmund over the Rheinlanddamm and the Westfalendamm (both parts of the B 1 federal highway ) is regionally still called "Ruhrschnellweg" for historical reasons after a road construction project that was already completed at the time the first autobahns opened. Nonetheless, it is also mockingly known for its nickname "Ruhrschleichweg" or "the longest / largest parking lot in the Ruhr area", as it is one of the streets with the highest traffic in Germany and is characterized by daily traffic jams.

In addition, run as a minor axis from north to south highways A 1 , A 3 , A 43 , A 45 , A 57 and A 59 , which in particular for commuting to the state capital Dusseldorf significant A 52 , A 535 and B227 .

Public transport

Rail transport

The most important junction stations for long-distance passenger transport are the main stations in Duisburg , Essen , Dortmund , Hamm , Hagen , Oberhausen , Bochum and Gelsenkirchen .

The S-Bahn Rhein-Ruhr contributes significantly to the infrastructural development of the Ruhr area with connection to the Rhineland . However, the main burden of regional transport services is carried by the Regional Express lines. Almost all RE lines lead from the Rhineland across the Ruhr area from Duisburg via Essen, Bochum, Dortmund to Hamm and partly further to eastern Westphalia . From 2018, the Rhein-Ruhr-Express is a new system of fast local trains that will run every 15 minutes.

Light rail and local transport

Lohring underground station in Bochum, which was awarded the Renault Traffic Future Award 2006
Regional and S-Bahn line network Rhine-Ruhr

Local public transport is largely organized by the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr (VRR). Public transport in the Unna district and in the area of ​​the city of Hamm is offered by the Verkehrsgemeinschaft Ruhr-Lippe (VRL).

In the first two decades of the 20th century, a comprehensive tram network was created , which made it possible to travel by tram from Bonn to Werne by changing trains . Many tram lines were shut down between the 1950s and 1970s, but it is still possible today, from Witten- Heven via Bochum, Gelsenkirchen, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Duisburg, Düsseldorf and Krefeld to Tönisvorst -St. Tönis with the tram or light rail .

In the 1960s, the plan arose to replace the predominantly meter-gauge tram routes with a standard - gauge, cross-city light rail network. So far, however, this project has only been partially implemented. Today the network of the Stadtbahn Rhein-Ruhr in the Ruhr area consists of four non-interconnected networks of the

The curiosity in the underground station below Mülheim's main train station is that two standard-gauge trams end there with the U 18 tram line from Essen and the 901 tram line from Duisburg, although it is currently not possible to connect them because, among other things, the signaling systems are not compatible.

In addition to trains, S-Bahns, trams and light rail vehicles, buses are the most important means of public transport in the Ruhr area.

air traffic

Terminal Dortmund Airport

The only significant commercial airport in the Ruhr area is Dortmund Airport , which handled more than 2,700,000 passengers in 2019. The airports in Düsseldorf and Cologne / Bonn , which can be reached in a short time from the Ruhr area via the rail network of the railway and the motorways, are also very important for the region . The Niederrhein Airport, which opened in 2003 in the Kleve district to the northwest of the Ruhr area, also plays an important role .

General aviation also found on the airfields Essen / Mülheim , Marl-Loemuhle and Dinslaken / Schwarze Heide instead. In addition, there are other special landing sites for glider and powered flight operations in the Ruhr area and its periphery . They are used and sometimes operated by aviation clubs.

Freight transport

Rail transport

In freight transport , the Ruhr area as a whole is still the largest railway complex in Europe with several marshalling yards ( Hagen-Vorhalle , Hamm (Westf) Rbf , Oberhausen-Osterfeld , after the privatization of the railways and the relocation of many rail transports to road traffic Süd , Schwerte (Ruhr) and Wanne-Eickel Hbf ) as well as with numerous industrial connecting railways.


The most important body of water in terms of traffic in the Ruhr area is the Rhine today . Until the middle of the 19th century, the namesake of the Ruhr area, the Ruhr , was one of the most important transport routes, see main lemma: Ruhr shipping .

In Datteln , four cross channels , Rhine-Herne Canal (RHK), Wesel-Datteln canal (WDK), Datteln-Hamm canal (DHK) and Dortmund-Ems canal (DEK), the order of the largest European hub for the IWT form. One of the sights is the Henrichenburg ship lift in Waltrop . The Ruhrschifffahrtskanal also connects the Rhine (Duisburg port) with the Mülheim Rhine-Ruhr port. The total throughput on the canals of the Ruhr area is around 25 million tons.

Both the largest inland port and the largest canal port in Europe are located in the Ruhr area. The Duisburg port “duisport”, which can be reached from the Rhine, the Ruhr and the Rhine-Herne Canal, is considered to be the transport hub for German inland shipping. It has a total annual turnover of around 96 million tons. In contrast, despite its size , the Dortmund Canal Harbor has lost a lot of its importance with the decline in steel production in recent decades.

See also

Portal: Ruhr area  - overview of Wikipedia content on the subject of the Ruhr area

TV documentaries


  • Günter Drozdzewski, Vera Mügge, Volker Wrede: About coral reefs, horsetail and the old man. Klartext, Essen 2005, ISBN 3-89861-439-5 .
  • Heinrich Hauser : Black Territory. S. Fischer Verlag, Berlin 1929, DNB 573688699 , (Reprint: Barbara Weidle (Ed.): Weidle Verlag, Bonn 2010, ISBN 978-3-938803-25-7 ).
  • Wilhelm Hermann, Gertrude Hermann: The old mines on the Ruhr. Past and future of a key technology. With a catalog of the "life stories" of 477 mines (series Die Blauen Bücher ). Verlag Langewiesche Nachhaben, Königstein im Taunus, 6th, 2008 edition expanded to include an excursus from p. 216 and updated in energy policy parts, ISBN 978-3-7845-6994-9 , pp. 13-133.
  • Detlef Hopp , Charlotte Trümpler (ed.): The early Roman Empire in the Ruhr area. Colloquium of the Ruhrland Museum and the city archeology / monument authority in cooperation with the University of Essen. Klartext Verlag, Essen 2001, ISBN 3-89861-069-1 .
  • Reinhard Felden, Axel Föhl: The Ruhr area. Ellert & Richter, Hamburg 2002, ISBN 3-8319-0030-2 .
  • Dirk Fleiter: Ruhr area. A crash course. DuMont Buchverlag, Cologne 2009, ISBN 978-3-8321-9129-0 .
  • Axel Föhl: Architekturführer Ruhrgebiet / Architectural Guide Ruhrgebiet. Reimer, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-496-01293-1 (German / English).
  • Nina Grontzki, Gerd Niewerth, Rolf Potthof: When the stones caught fire. Klartext Verlag, Essen 2003, ISBN 3-89861-208-2 .
  • Inge Zander, Ralph Lueger: The pot. Experience the Ruhr area. Droste Regional, Düsseldorf 2001, ISBN 3-7700-1135-X .
  • Roland Günter , Günter Mowe (photographer), Roland Göhre (illustrator): In the Valley of the Kings. A travel book on the Emscher, Rhine and Ruhr (on behalf of IBA Emscher Park ). Klartext, Essen 1994, 4th edition, continued and expanded after the IBA final, Essen 1999, ISBN 3-88474-044-X ; 5th expanded edition, Grupello, Düsseldorf 2010, ISBN 978-3-89978-123-6 .
  • KVR : The Ruhr area is unpacking. Bottrop 1996.
  • KVR / RVR: locations. Yearbook Ruhr area. Essen 1995 ff.
  • NN: The fascination of the Ruhr area. Industrial Heritage Route. Historical film material (89 min); Essen 2004 (DVD).
  • Hermann Beckfeld (Ed.): ... the boss continues to play in heaven - football stories from the Ruhr area. Henselowsky Boschmann, Bottrop 2006, ISBN 3-922750-62-1 .
  • Barbara Mettler-von Meibom (Ed.): "I belong here" Varieties of identification with the Ruhr area. LIT publishing house, Münster i. W. 2004, ISBN 3-8258-8200-4 .
  • Hennes Bender: Comma delicious for me at: Kleines Ruhrpott-Lexikon. Ullstein, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-548-37321-8 .
  • Rainer Henselowsky (ed.); Eckhard Brockhoff, Wolfgang Sykorra u. a .: From the coal pot to the Ruhr metropolis. edition rainruhr, Essen 2007, ISBN 978-3-9811598-0-6 .
  • Frank Goosen : Radio Heimat - stories from home. Stories. Eichborn Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2010, ISBN 978-3-8218-6072-5 .
  • Delia Bösch: Mine gold. The myth of the Ruhr area . Klartext Verlag, Essen 2010, ISBN 978-3-89861-959-2 .
  • Manfred Kaute (Ed.): Coke and Cola. The Ruhr area in the 1950s , Emons Verlag, Cologne 2012, ISBN 978-3-95451-000-9 .
  • Monika Barwinski, Michael Moll : Ruhr Area West - Adventure bike tours between Moers and Essen. Droste Verlag, Düsseldorf 2013, ISBN 978-3-7700-1475-0 .
  • Monika Barwinski, Michael Moll: Ruhr Area East - Adventure bike tours between Essen and Hamm. Droste Verlag, Düsseldorf 2013, ISBN 978-3-7700-1487-3 .
  • Bernd Langmack, Haiko Hebig: Steel + City. Views on the reality of the Ruhr area . Klartext Verlag, Essen 2011, ISBN 978-3-8375-0670-9 .

Web links

Commons : Ruhrgebiet  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Ruhrgebiet  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Ruhrpott  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Kohlenpott  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Pott  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikivoyage: Ruhr area  - travel guide

Coordinates: 51 ° 31 '  N , 7 ° 11'  E

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This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on May 27, 2005 .