Business and Development in Cologne: A German City Regenerated
Business and Development in Cologne: A German City Regenerated13th October 2021
Cologne is the largest city of North Rhine-Westphalia, the most densely populated region in Germany. The city is one of the oldest in Germany and the fourth largest in the country with a population of 1.1 million. Cologne is considered the historic, cultural and economic centre of the Rhineland. Having been heavily bombed in the Second World War, the city underwent a sizeable reconstruction. Today, Cologne has a strong, diverse economy and is a popular destination for business travellers from around the world. The city is home to many multinationals and has an impressive array of corporate venues, with its Koelnmesse being one of the largest trade exhibition centres in Germany. We have a collection of high quality serviced apartments in Cologne, catered entirely for business travellers. Keep reading to learn more about the history and regeneration of Cologne.
The History of Cologne
Cologne was founded in the first Century by the Romans. The city was seized by the Franks and became an integral part of Medieval Germany. In modern history, Cologne was taken by the French during the Revolutionary Wars in 1794 with occupation ending in 1814 when Cologne was seized by Russian forces. Following World War I, Cologne was occupied by the British under the Peace Treaty of Versailles until 1926. A former region of Prussia, Cologne was one of the most heavily bombed German cities by Allied forces during the Second World War. By 1945, around 95% of the population of Cologne had been evacuated. 61% of Cologne was destroyed by the Allies with approximately 20,000 civilian deaths.
In order to understand the history of Cologne, it is necessary to dive deeper into events in the city prior to World War II. Despite an underlying Nazi concern about deep-rooted communism and Christian influences in the city, the party came to power in 1933, winning 39.6% of the vote in an election. Subsequently, the Nazis imprisoned Communists and Socialists and strengthened their hold on the city. By 1939, around 40% of the local Jewish population had fled Cologne as the Nazis escalated their persecution. In 1938, the atrocities of Kristallnacht saw the destruction of Cologne’s synagogues. As the war progressed, the Royal Air Force stepped up their bombing campaigns on German cities, with Cologne, Berlin, Dresden and Hamburg key targets under a mission codenamed Operation Millennium.
Development in Cologne
In 1947, architect and urban planner Rudolf Schwarz established a master plan for reconstructing Cologne. Two years earlier, Schwarz had referred to the city as the ‘‘world’s greatest heap of rubble’’. The post-war rebuilding plan prioritised the restoring of major historical landmarks including the Twelve Romanesque Churches and Cologne Cathedral, with the restoration finally completed in the 1990s. Schwarz anticipated a rise in automobile transport and designed a number of highways through the city. Modern Cologne has a unique cityscape containing a mixture of historic landmarks and modern buildings. The city is now credited for having one of the best transportation networks in Germany.
With the population having dropped almost entirely by the end of War, regeneration helped to bring people back to Cologne. The reconstructing of the city was a lengthy task. It involved considerable investment into industry, transportation and housing to re-establish Cologne as an economic hotspot. Ultimately, it was not until around 1959 that the population of Cologne reached levels prior to World War II.
Business in Cologne
Despite Cologne being the largest city in the region, Bonn was chosen as the capital of West Germany in the aftermath of World War II. Nearby Dusseldorf was chosen as the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia. The reunification of Germany in November 1989 saw business surge in Cologne, with the city’s geographical location, being situated in-between Bonn and Dusseldorf bringing multiple benefits. The city became an important business hub in the region, being notable for its financial industry. Cologne is now home to an abundance of multi-national corporations. German flag carrier Lufthansa is headquartered in the city, with pharmaceutical giant Bayer located in nearby Leverkusen. The city is also home to the European division of the Ford Motor Company. Since the turn of the century, the economy in Cologne has diverted away from traditional industry towards telecommunications. In 2001, the Colonius Tower was opened. The 44 storey office skyscraper is located in Cologne’s Media Park. The city became a hotspot for media companies, with Westdeutscher Rundhunk, RTL and Deutschlandradio being a few of many national organisations situated locally. Cologne is also home to Koelnmesse, or the Cologne Trade Fair. This exhibition centre is one of the largest trade fairs in Germany, staging around 80 trade fairs and 2000 conferences in Cologne annually. Finally, one of the most iconic fragrances emerged from Cologne, with the city being famous for producing eau de Cologne. The perfume was invented by an Italian living in the city in the early 18th Century.
Although Cologne was detonated during World War II, the city has been almost entirely regenerated. It's historic buildings have been restored and business is booming. With Cologne re-established as the economic core of western Germany, now is the perfect time to visit the city. For the best accommodation, be sure to check out our serviced apartments in Cologne.