Coal for the Country


The city of Essen was chosen as the European Capital of Culture in 2010. The Capital of Culture is awarded to a different city each year, and that city gets to host cultural events that show the collective culture of Europe from their perspective. Essen hosted these events as the representative of the entire Ruhr Valley, a large urban area known for being a hotspot of the early production of goods from natural resources in Germany.

Das Ruhrgebiet, the Ruhr Valley, has provided Germany with lumber, iron, coal and more since the 18th century. Many families who live in this area have relatives who earned money as coal miners and industry workers during and after World War II. The Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex, which includes the coal mines of Essen, was added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List in 2001. It was given this honor because of its outstanding architecture and the exemplary picture it paints of the rise and fall of the coal mining industry.

On my tour of Zollverein, I learned about the history of the population of the Ruhr Valley, how it was affected by World War II and what the future of coal mining looks like here.

What makes this environment special or different?:

In the mid-1920s, the Ruhr Valley had around 3,800,000 inhabitants.