1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Düsseldorf
DÜSSELDORF, a town of Germany, in the Prussian Rhine province, on the right bank of the Rhine, 24 m. by rail N. by W. from Cologne. Pop. (1885) 115,190; (1895) 175,985; (1905) 252,630. Düsseldorf is one of the handsomest cities of western Germany. Its situation on the great mid-European waterway and as the junction of several main lines of railway has largely favoured its rapid growth and industrial development. It is the principal banking centre of the Westphalian coal and iron trade, and the favourite residence of the leading merchants of the lower Rhine.
The city consists of five main portions—the Altstadt, the original town with narrow, irregular streets; the Karlstadt, dating from 1787 and so called after the electoral prince Charles Theodore; the Neustadt, laid out between 1690 and 1716; and the Friedrichstadt and the Königstadt, of recent formation. In addition, the former villages of Pempelfort, Oberbilk, Unterbilk, Flingern and Derendorf have been incorporated and form the outer suburbs of the town proper. On the south side the town has been completely metamorphosed by the removal of the Köln-Mindner and Bergisch-Maerkisch stations to a central station lying to the east. The site thus gained was converted into new boulevards, while the railway to Neuss and Aix-la-Chapelle was diverted through the suburb of Bilk and thence across the Rhine by an iron bridge. A road bridge (completed 1898, 2087 ft. long), replacing the old bridge of boats, carries the electric tram-line to Crefeld. The town, with the exception of the Altstadt, is regularly built, but within its area are numerous open grounds and public squares, which prevent the regularity of its plan degenerating into monotony: the market-place, with the colossal bronze statue of the elector John William, the parade, the Allee Strasse, the Königs Allee, and the Königs Platz may be specially mentioned. Of the thirty-seven churches, of which twenty-six are Roman Catholic, the most noticeable are:—St Andrew’s, formerly the Jesuit and court church, with frescoes by J. Hübner (1806-1882), E. Deger (1809-1885), and H. Mücke (1806-1891), and the embalmed bodies of several Rhenish electors; St Lambert’s, with a tower 180 ft. high and containing a monument to Duke William (d. 1592); Maximilians, with frescoes by J. A. N. Settegast (1813-1890); the Romanesque St Martin’s, and the new Gothic church of St Mary. Besides the old ducal palace, laid in ruins by the French in 1794, but restored in 1846, the secular buildings comprise the government offices, the post-office in Italian style, the town hall on the market square, the law courts, the municipal music hall, the municipal theatre, the assembly hall of the Rhenish provincial diet, an Italian Renaissance edifice erected in 1879, the academy of art (1881; in pure Renaissance), the industrial art museum (1896), the historical museum, and the industrial art school. The town also possesses a library of 50,000 volumes, several high-grade schools, and is the seat of a great number of commercial and intellectual associations; but to nothing is it more indebted for its celebrity than to the Academy of Painting. This famous institution, originally founded by the elector Charles Theodore in 1767, was reorganized by King Frederick William III. in 1822, and has since attained a high degree of prosperity as a centre of artistic culture. From 1822 till 1826 it was under the direction of Cornelius, a native of the town, from 1826 to 1859 under Schadow, and from 1859 to 1864 under E. Bendemann (1811-1889). From Bendemann’s resignation it continued in the hands of a body of curators till 1873, when Hermann Wislicenus (1825-1899) of Weimar was chosen director. The noble collection of paintings which formerly adorned the Düsseldorf gallery was removed to Munich in 1805, and has not since been restored; but there is no lack of artistic treasures in the town. The academy possesses 14,000 original drawings and sketches by the great masters, 24,000 engravings, and 248 water-colour copies of Italian originals; the municipal gallery contains valuable specimens of the local school; and the same is the case with the Schulte collection. The principal names are Cornelius, Lessing, the brothers Andreas and Oswald Achenbach, A. Baur (b. 1835), A. Tidemand (1814-1876), and L. Knaus (b. 1829). An annual exhibition is held under the auspices of the Art Union; and the members of the Artists’ Society, or Malkasten, as they are called, have annual festivals and masquerades.
The town is embellished with many handsome monuments—notably a bronze statue of Cornelius, by A. Donndorf (b. 1835), an equestrian statue of the emperor William I. (1896), and a large bronze group in front of the assembly hall of the diet, representing the river Rhine and its chief tributaries. In the suburb of Bilk there are the Floragarten and Volksgarten, the astronomical observatory and the harbour. Extensive quays afford accommodation for vessels of deep draught, and the trade with the Dutch cities and with London has been thereby greatly enhanced. Within recent years Düsseldorf has made remarkable progress as an industrial centre. The first place is occupied by the iron industries, embracing foundries, furnaces, engineering and machine shops, &c. Next come cotton spinning and weaving, calico printing, yarn-spinning, dyeing and similar textile branches, besides a variety of other industries.
A little to the north of the town lies the village of Düsselthal, with Count von der Recke-Volmerstein’s establishment for homeless children in the former Trappist monastery, and in the suburb of Pempelfort is the Jägerhof, the residence at one time of Prince Frederick of Prussia, and afterwards of the prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.
Düsseldorf, as the form of the name—the village on the Düssel—clearly indicates, was long a place of small consideration. In 1288 it was raised to the rank of a town by Count Adolf of Berg; from his successors it obtained various privileges, and in 1385 was chosen as their residence. After it had suffered greatly in the Thirty Years’ War and the War of the Spanish Succession, it recovered its prosperity under the patronage of the electoral prince John William of the Palatinate, who dwelt in the castle for many years before his death in 1716. In 1795 the town, after a violent bombardment, was surrendered to the French; and after the peace of Lunéville it was deprived of its fortifications. In 1805 it became the capital of the Napoleonic duchy of Berg; and in 1815 it passed with the duchy into Prussian possession. Among its celebrities are Johann Georg and Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, Heinrich Heine, Varnhagen von Ense, Peter von Cornelius, Wilhelm Camphausen and Heinrich von Sybel.