History

c.1000 AD first settlement in the area of the present Waldhof
1214 founding of the town by Count Hermann IV of Ravensberg
after 1240 construction of Sparrenburg Castle and development of the new town



Sparrenburg Castle around 1900 and today (photo: town archive Bielefeld)

1293 establishment of St.Marien seminary
1346 after the end of the House of Ravensberg, the county falls to the House of Jülich-Berg
C.14 Bielefeld joins the Hanseatic League
1452 diversion of the river Luther to fill the town moat
1511 consecration of Franciscan monastery at Klosterplatz
1511 Bielefeld, with the county of Ravensberg, falls to the House of Kleve
1520 integration of old town and new town
c.1550 fortification of Sparrenburg Castle completed
1554 the Reformation reaches Bielefeld
1648 end of the Thirty Year War. Bielefeld and the county of Ravensberg become part of Brandenburg
1652 establishment of the first Legge, a linen testing institution by the Great Elector
1666 discovery of a medicinal spring at Kesselbrink, giving Bielefeld spa town status for over 150 years
1768 merchants establish a modern bleaching works, Bielefeld's first joint stock company
1775 construction of barracks for the Bielefeld garrison under Frederick the Great, using facing stones from Sparrenburg Castle. After 1830 major crisis in the linen trade caused by cheap, machine-made yarns and cloths from abroad
1847 the new Cologne-Minden railway connects Bielefeld to the German and European rail network
1851 the Bozi brothers establish "Spinnerei Vorwärts", the first large mechanised spinning mill in the town
1854 founding of the "Ravensberger Spinnerei" spinning mill as a joint stock company under Hermann Delius


The "Ravensberger Spinnerei" now and then (photo: town archive Bielefeld).

1860 the first metal industry company starts production, later to become the "Kochs Adler-Werke"
1867 establishment of the "Dürkopp-Werke" company
1872 Pastor Friedrich von Bodelschwingh becomes head of Bethel, a charitable institution founded in 1867
1879 the town purchases the ruin of Sparrenburg Castle from the Prussian state for 8934.90 Marks. Rebuilding begins
1891 Dr. August Oetker takes over Aschoff's chemist's shop, here developing his well-known pre-packed baking powder
1900 inauguration of tram services in Bielefeld


Bielefelder Stadtbahnen. (Foto: Stadtarchiv Bielefeld)

Tram service in Bielefeld now and then (photo: town archive Bielefeld).

1904 opening of the municipal theatre, construction of the town hall at Schillerplatz and of the post office at Herforder Straße
1910 construction of the main railway station
1917 official opening of the farmhouse museum at Ochsenheide
1930 Bielefeld becomes a city by incorporating parts of neighbouring communities
1930 opening of the "Rudolf Oetker-Halle" concert hall, famous for its excellent acoustics
1933 banning of unions and the Social Democrat "Volkswacht", dissolution of democratic political parties
1938 the synagogue is burnt down in the Third Reich's pogrom night
1944 heaviest air strike on Bielefeld on September 30. Large area of the town turns to rubble; more than 600 people die
1945 entry of American troops in April. The British take over the military administration in May
1946 Artur Ladebeck becomes the first democratically elected mayor
1953 official twinning with the English town of Rochdale
1968 the foundation stone is laid for Bielefeld University. The city art gallery is opened
1968 "Arminia Bielefeld" football club reach the First Division
1973 Northrhine-Westphalian boundary changes: the town of Bielefeld and its district are merged
1974 end of production at the Bielefeld site of Ravensberger Spinnerei
1990 opening of the civic hall
1991 official opening of the Stadtbahn tram network, running underground in the city centre
1993 opening of the Seidensticker Hall
1994 the History Museum is opened in the Ravensberger Spinnerei park
1995 official handing over of the arts and crafts collection Huelsmann in the former manager's mansion of the Ravensberger Spinnerei


Architecture in Bielefeld today: University, Kesselbrink, Kunsthalle, SchücoArena, town hall (photos: Bielefeld University)