Ruhr Museum

The Boom Years

Industrialisation in the Ruhr area reached its peak before the end of the 19th century. The structures that had developed by then would remain relatively unchanged until the crisis in the late 1950s. Major coal and steel companies merged into powerful cartels and corporate associations. In the process they aligned their economic interests closely with the national ideology of the German Empire, whose imperial armaments programmes further boosted heavy industry in the Ruhr area.

Coal mining spread throughout the Emscher zone. A complex industrial society developed, marked by an enormous population growth, large-scale immigration, the merging of urban and industrial landscapes and specific proletarian ways of life.

The demands of the emerging labour movement and their strikes were directed against harsh and dangerous working conditions. The damage inflicted on the natural environment gave rise to health hazards.