Dortmund - Encyclopedia




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DORTMUND, a town of Germany, the chief commercial centre of the Prussian province of Westphalia, on the Emscher, in a fertile plain, 50 m. E. from Dusseldorf by rail. Pop. (1875) 57,74 2; (1895) 111,232; (1905) 175,292. Since the abolition of the old walls in 1863 and the conversion of their site into promenades, the town has rapidly assumed a modern appearance. The central part, however, with its winding narrow streets, is redolent of its historical past, when, as one of the leading cities of the Hanseatic League, it enjoyed commercial supremacy over all the towns of Westphalia. Among its ancient buildings must be mentioned the Reinoldikirche, with fine stained-glass windows, the Marienkirche, the nave of which dates from the I Ith century, the Petrikirche, with a curious altar, and the Dominican church, with beautiful cloisters. The 13th-century town hall was restored in 1899 and now contains the municipal antiquarian museum, having been superseded by a more commodious building. Among the chief modern structures may be mentioned the magnificent post office, erected in 1895, the provincial law courts, the municipal infirmary and the large railway station. To the W. of the last there existed down to 1906 (when it was removed) one of the ancient lime trees of the Kdnigshof, where the meetings of the Vehmgericht were held (see Fehmic Courts). But the real interest of Dortmund centres in its vast industries, which owe their development to the situation of the town in the centre of the great Westphalian coal basin. In the immediate vicinity are also extensive beds of iron ore, and this combination of mineral wealth has enabled the town to become a competitor with Essen, Oberhausen, Duisburg and Hagen in the products of the iron industry. These in Dortmund more particularly embrace steel railway rails, mining plant, wire ropes, machinery, safes and sewing machines. Dortmund has also extensive breweries, and, in addition to the manufactured goods already enumerated, does a considerable trade in corn and wood. Besides being well furnished with a convenient railway system, linking it with the innumerable manufacturing towns and villages of the iron district, it is also connected with the river Ems by the Dortmund-Ems Canal, 170 m. in length.

Dortmund, the Throtmannia of early history, was already a town of some importance in the 9th century. In 1005 the emperor Henry II. held here an ecclesiastical council, and in 1016 an imperial diet. The town was walled in the 12th century, and in 1387-1388 successfully withstood the troops of the archbishop of Cologne, who besieged it for twenty-one months. About the middle of the 13th century it joined the Hanseatic League. At the close of the Thirty Years' War the population had become reduced to 3000. In 1803 Dortmund lost its rights as a free town, and was annexed to Nassau. The French occupied it in 1806, and in 1808 it was made over by Napoleon to the grand-duke of Berg, and became the chief town of the department of Ruhr. Through the cession of Westphalia by the king of the Netherlands, on the 31st of May 1815, it became a Prussian town.

See Thiersch, Geschichte der Freireichsstadt Dortmund (Dort, 1854), and Ludoff, Bauand Kunstdenkmdler in Dortmund (Paderborn, 1895); also A. Shadwell, Industrial Efficiency (London, 1906).

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