Ruhr industrial area
Decades ago, EmscherRiver in Ruhr region, in western Germany, was one of the most polluted. Parents cautioned their children that they would die if they fell into poisonous stew of sewage and chemical waste. However, today Emscher is the backdrop to over twenty new art installations. The development has been a result of European effort to change blighted industrial into cultural target for tourists and to start a new life into the area. Across the Ruhr area, about one thousand industrial structures have been transformed into cultural venues.
The Dortmunder U was turned from a brewery to a gallery and Zeche Nordstern was turned into an office space and a museum for model railroads from a coalmine. The region by 2010 had a hundred theaters and a couple of concerts and musical festivals occurring every year. The area is one of the most culturally vibrant in Europe due to its dense population. Confirming the success of the Ruhr transformation program, the European Union chose the area together with its fifty-three cities and 5.3 million inhabitants as the capital of culture in 2010.
Apart from the creative installations, most of the Ruhr 2010 cultural ventures merge long-term reconstruction efforts seeking to revive a region on the decline since the 70s with cutting-edge art. On top of the financial support that the region receives for being the European capital of culture, the EU is spending 4.4 billion euros on Emscher cleanup for the next fifteen years. The cleanup is the world largest renaturation program.
The region was once the driver of industrialization and prosperity in Germany but it became notorious for hopelessness, heavy pollution, unemployment upon the closure of the mines with young people seeking for a brighter future elsewhere.