The development of Essen is intertwined with Europe's steel industry. In 1811, Friedrich Krupp founded Germany's first steel factory in Essen and thereby laid the cornerstone for what was to eventually become Europe's largest company. Krupp's steel factories ushered in the industrial revolution in Europe but also served as the armaments maker for kings and dictators. The fabulous wealth that it created for the Krupp family can be seen today in the palatial grounds of their former residence, the Villa Hugel.
Today, Essen is the ninth-largest city in Germany with a population of 582,000. The city remains an important business center and is headquarters to some of Germany largest companies, such as RWE, RAG and Hochtief. But like all of the cities in the Ruhr Region, Essen has undergone a difficult transition because of the crisis in the coal and steel industries more than a generation ago. A testament to this transition is the Zollverein, a steel mill that was shuttered in the 1980s but has now become a vibrant cultural center. It was because of this creative redevelopment project that the European Union chose Essen to host the European Capital of Culture for 2010.
For more infromation consult the sities website: www.essen.de