WELCOME TO DORTMUND
Hello, dear participants at Media Literacy Conference
We have the pleasure to have you as our guests in Dortmund from July 3rd to July 6th. Although the participation at the European Media Literacy conference will not leave you a great amount of time for sight-seeing in the city of Dortmund, we want to provide some information about the place that will be hosting you for the weekend.
Dortmund? Where is Dortmund?
Nobody outside Germany really knows about Dortmund and its location. But: If you are a fan of international football, you should know it, because Dortmund's club BORUSSIA DORTMUND was Champions League winner and Worldcup winner in 1997 and also winner of the National League in 1995, 1996 and 2002. If you are old enough to like beer, you probably have come across tasteful DAB beer or Dortmunder Union from well-known Dortmund breweries.
A very short survey of history
Dortmund is a very old city. The earliest recorded reference dates from 880 AD. In the 13th century, already it had developed into a wealthy trading town. An important trading route of the Middle Ages, the HELLWEG, went right through Dortmund, coming from France and the Rhine west of Dortmund and going to North and Eastern Europe. You can still drive and walk on the Hellweg today, which crosses the city as a main street from the farthest point in the west to the outskirts in the east. Near the youth hostel you will step on it, being the city centre shopping mile "Westenhellweg" and "Ostenhellweg", inviting you to stroll, to shop or to just sit on the basin of some fountain eating an ice cream.
In 1293 King Adolph from Nassau granted the Town of Dortmund the right to brew beer. During the centuries many breweries were established and Dortmund became known in the world as "beer city". In fact in the Sixties it was the second largest beer producer behind Milwaukee, USA: Today the breweries are sold to large corporations and the production of local beer has been very much diminished.
More information on the POP-UP website: How to become a brewer
In the 19th century, in the south of Dortmund people found coal lying around, literally, the deposits of the black gold being just under the surface. A very busy coal mining industry developed. The coal mines spread all across Dortmund and the region, the industry moving north, and the mines drilling down deeper and deeper. Near the coal, the iron making is not far, and therefore at the same time many iron mills were established and Dortmund became a major industrial town. Within 50 years, from about 1875 to 1925, the population of Dortmund grew from 50.000 to 500.000 people.
Not only Dortmund, but the whole area became one of the most important industrial regions in Germany. Because of the river RUHR which is meandering from the East to the West and finally flowing into the Rhine, the area is called the RUHR AREA, for more than a century the synonym for heavy industry.
The Ruhr area having been the main steel production spot for weapons of the Nazi warmongers during World War II, was heavily bombed in 1945. 93% of the city was destroyed.
Architecture and landmarks
For this reason, Dortmund does not offer a great number of old historical buildings. The city and its centre were rebuilt after the war The station, the theatre, the opera house, the city hall, the library were built within the last 50 years. The new library, looking like a hatbox, situated right opposite the station, was built only a couple of years ago. Very new is the Dortmund Concert Hall, which opened last year. Nether the less you will see quite a number of old looking churches near the youth hostel in the Gothic style of the Middle Ages. They have been reconstructed according to the old plans and now furnish the city centre with a tiny bit of a cosy historical flair.
Dortmund's two best know landmarks are the tower FLORIAN TURM, (220 m, about 600 ft) where you can take a speedy lift upwards and have a coffee enjoying the fantastic view, and the WESTFALENHALLE, one of Europe's largest hall for pop-concerts, exhibitions and sportive events.And, very new, there is a third landmark, even newer than the concert hall: The famous Borussia's football stadium has been furnished with huge yellow braces (to hold the roof), rising above the surrounding buildings and giving the impression of a (four-legged!) monster spider.
After WW II Dortmund had again developed to a booming industrial centre of coal and steel production, giving workplaces to ten thousands of workers and food and lodging to their families. Since the Fifties, Dortmund has about 600.000 inhabitants. Because of the need for industrial workforce in the Sixties and Seventies, many workers from Italy, Turkey. Greece, Spain and other countries were asked to come to work in the coal mines and the steel plants, and many of them settled down in Dortmund with their families. Today, 10% of our population are immigrants, the majority of them having their roots in Turkey. There is a vibrant ethnic economy developing, especially in the so-called NORDSTADT, a multicultural neighbourhood in the northern part of the city centre with many shops and restaurants.
If you think that you will to come to a dark industrial city with houses black from coal dust and blast furnaces towering over drab neighbourhoods you are quite mistaken. This picture of Dortmund has become history meanwhile. Dortmund's last pit closed in 1989. The steel production has also been cut off, the global players seeking their profits in other parts of the world.
However, the consequence of this severe structural change in local economy was the loss of ten thousands of jobs during the last 30 years, leaving Dortmund to struggle with an unemployment rate which constantly is around 14 to 15 %.
The local government and economy are striving hard to create new working opportunities by establishing new industries, information technology, production of software, micro systems and bio-technology as well as services. This situation has created the huge task of developing our competencies and skills towards the new requirements by these workplaces. But it will take many more years to come up with enough new jobs for everybody. Many of the young people are experiencing extremely hard times, training and working places being scarce.
An interesting fact: Several of the really over towering furnaces on the premises of the steel plants in the city have just been dissembled by hundreds of Chinese workers, all the parts being stacked into containers and shipped to China, where the furnaces will be rebuilt to work.
Dortmund for you
On the whole, the quality of the "new" Dortmund has very much improved, and you will be able to find a lively and bright city. If you get up early on Saturday morning you will find a busy market just round the corner of the youth hostel. During the weekend of 4th / 5th July there will be the annual event "Dortmund à la carte" on this market place, Dortmund's most accomplished restaurants will be coming out to the public, presenting delicious food and drinks at numerous tents and stalls. Unfortunately we can offer you nothing more than the meals at the youth hostel. But you can take a look and smell, anyway.
Many of the relics of the industrial history of Dortmund have been transformed into industrial historical sites which are interesting places to visit. One of the most impressive locations is the ZECHE ZOLLERN.
The winding towers of the coal pits still are characteristic landmarks today. Actually our training centre EWZ is located on the premises of a former pit, looking out on one of those towers.
We hope to have provided you with some interesting information with this, making you looking forward to come to Dortmund and meet its friendly people.
As part of the programme of the conference, on Friday morning, we will go to a huge Indian tent, the BIG TIPI. It is run by the Youth Department of the City Council. There we will have our first plenary session. From there we will go to a disused depot for trams, where we will have lunch. By this you will be able to experience at least one of the transformed historical places in Dortmund. (The historical site is the tram depot, not the Tipi, which is not part of our history, as we never had Sioux living in Germany)