History of Eindhoven
Eindhoven ranks as the fifth city in size in the Netherlands. With its round about 225,000 inhabitants it comes immediately after Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Eindhoven is the main hub of technology and industry in the south of the country, and its importance for the national and European economy is today recognized through the title ‘brainport’. The city also offers its citizens a wide range of shopping facilities, culture, entertainment, sports and leisure.
Modern Eindhoven started out as a small medieval town surrounded by a number of rural communities. In the nineteenth century the construction of canals and railroads brought it into connection with the wider world, and industries like textiles and cigar manufacturing were established. However, the great boost towards becoming the hive of economic activity and technological development it is today came in 1891. It was then that Gerard Philips, pioneer and entrepreneur in the new technology of electric lighting, decided to set up his business at Eindhoven.
The successful expansion of the Philips company attracted many new inhabitants to Eindhoven, varying from manual labourers to management and scientific personnel. Other major industries, like the DAF automotive company, also chose Eindhoven as the location for their main facilities. In just under a century, the number of inhabitants rose from a mere five thousand to today’s still rising number.
However, in the course of time Eindhoven also encountered setbacks. During the Great Depression of the nineteen thirties the Philips company had to lay off a considerable portion of its workforce. During World War Two, when the Netherlands was occupied by Hitler’s Germany, industrial firms were forced to deliver products to the enemy forces. The output of Philips was so significant that the British carried out several air raids against the factories. In September 1944, when Allied armies finally liberated Eindhoven from Nazi occupation, a German aerial bombardment caused further severe damage and loss of life.
As war ended in 1945, the Netherlands and also Eindhoven faced a daunting task of reconstruction. Also, the independence of the country’s former overseas colonies meant that the national economy would have to be based on new economic activities. The build-up of new industries would require large numbers of young people to be trained as scientists. One measure the government took to cater for this need was the establishment of a second university of technology, in addition to the existing institution at Delft.
After a selection process that took several years, it was decided that the new university was to be located at Eindhoven. The establishment of TU/e in 1956 further augmented the importance of Eindhoven, now not only as a leading industrial center, but also as a city of science and higher education. This was a major contribution to the further growth of the city and to the increasing diversity of its citizens. It was a decisive factor in the development of Eindhoven into the modern thriving city we know today.