Oberhausen is called the „Cradle of the Ruhr industry“ as St. Antony ironworks in 1758 have been the first ironworks in the region. In the following years a rapidly growing industrial town developed with migrants coming from other parts of Germany and Europe. In 1874 the municipality of Oberhausen received city rights and grew to a thriving industrial city until World War II, when it was destroyed up to 50 percent. After World War II the reconstruction began and migrants from Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Former Yugoslavia etc. came to find work mainly in the coal and steel industry. For various reasons since the 1980s neither mining nor steel production are active on the territory of the city. A radical process of transformation began. Today Oberhausen with 213.000 inhabitans from 156 countries of the world is part of the Metropolis Ruhr with all over 5 million people. In the heart of the city, at the place of the no longer existing heavy industries, emerged one of Europe‘s biggest shopping and entertainment centres with about 23 million visitors per year. At the Arena up to 12,500 spectators can experience concerts and shows, sporting events and parties. At the Oberhausen Marina, directly on the Rhine-Herne Canal, is Germany’s largest seawater aquarium, the Sea Life Centre; just a few metres away, cinemas and a great variety of restaurants offer evening entertainment. There are also various leisure acitivities for families like the Lego Discovery Centre, the Aquapark in mining design, the trampoline park Tiger Jump, the Tree-2-Tree high ropes courses and lately also the modern sports and leisure facility Topgolf.
The nearby Gasometer on the „European Route of Industrial Heritage“ is a landmark and the symbol of the change in the region. It is a former industrial gas tank that since 1994 is used for spectacular exhibitions mainly about the beauty of nature and the impact of man.
A cultural highlight is Schloss Oberhausen – the town’s namesake – with its Ludwig Gallery showing art from all over the world. In the LVR Industrial Museum historical traces can be followed from the beginnings to the heyday of industrialisation. The International Short Film Festival founded in 1954 is worldwidethe oldest short film festival and still one of the most important platforms for this art.
The city is twinned with Middlesbrough (UK), Zhaporizhzhia (Ukraine), Carbonia and Iglesias (Italy), Mersin (Turkey) and Tychy (Poland).
Oberhausen and the Ruhr region have been European Capital of Culture in 2010 with the motto „Culture through Change – Change through Culture”. Culture is seen as an important motor for the economic and social change in the region. For this reason the municipality is very active in developing its own institutions like for example the Theater Oberhausen as a producing municipal theatre and supporting socio-cultural centres, artists and initiatives in arts and creative industries. The recreation process is still going on as the employment rate and the financial and social problems in Oberhausen and the Ruhr region are still bigger than in most other German cities.