Wuppertal – 'The Pretty City'
Sheltered by the long, steep river valley, Wuppertal can feel somewhat far-flung, cut off, due to the hill sides and greenery, yet it is part of the economic region known as the Bergisches Städtedreieck (Bergisch City Triangle) and occupies a pivotal position in the Rhine-Ruhr conurbation. The city is centrally located in the economic region of North Rhine-Westphalia and has excellent transport connections in all directions.
The city was in many ways thrown together by town planners and local politicians, Wuppertal (the name means literally “Wupper valley”) is a large city composed of several small towns along the Wupper River valley: whilst the towns still maintain their own identities, two things bring them all together – the River and the “Schwebebahn”, or translated, hovering railway. Wuppertal has two vibrant centres. Because of these historical factors, two separate commercial centres established themselves along the Wupper valley, each of which commands a hinterland worthy of any great metropolis.
Wuppertal is sometimes called “the San Francisco of Germany”, and not because it has a famous prison or a big red bridge, but for its steep hills lined by pretty houses and thousands of steps; meaning that Wuppertal’s residents are never more than two minutes (and a sweat!) from one of the city’s many fine hill parks and view points. Looking over the 15km valley city occupies, Wuppertal makes quite an industrial impression. Chimney stacks, red bricks, random lumps of steel and corrugated iron; the city was pioneering for Germany’s industrial revolution. One of the first areas in Germany to industrialise, Wuppertal benefited from the river Wupper, which gave easy access to energy, and later from its nearness to the coal riches of the Ruhr area. Wuppertal was however, a victim of its own beauty and location and was slowly overtaken by neighbouring cities which had more room for expansion. However, many companies see opportunity in Wuppertal and are quite happy to deal with the architectural difficulties of building in a valley. The Delphi Corporation (the supply arm of General Motors), has its German headquarters in Wuppertal, along with E/D/E, one of Europe’s largest purchasing organisations supplying medium sized hardware producers and dealers. One of the city’s oldest companies, Vorwerk, which was once a small carpet manufacturer in the industrial district of Barmen, has now grown to become an international distributor of household goods and cosmetics. Major employers in Wuppertal today include Bayer AG, Johnson & Johnson, the Schaeffler Group and Vorwerk & Co. KG. As home to the headquarters of Barmer GEK and Barmenia, Wuppertal is also a major insurance location.
Today, manufacturing at 27% still accounts for the biggest share of the employment market when service industries are split down into their individual segments. The shift towards a more service-based economy has not been as pronounced in Wuppertal as in other regions of Germany, although a business survey of the last two years shows a marginal advance by the tertiary sector. In addition, other important trade sectors in Wuppertal are mechanical engineering and publishing. Following on from mechanical engineering, no reference to Wuppertal could possibly be made, without highlighting the city’s Schwebebahn, or ‘hovering railway’. This greatest feat of metalwork runs the full length of the city, at times straddling the river, providing the perfect answer to the challenges of mass transit in an urban area surrounded by steep hills. The rails are hung mid-air, suspended from metal arch supports, with the train wheels on the roof of the carriages. Because there is nothing below the carriages, passengers have the impression of hovering along the valley. Stations sit above the streets and wherever you are in Wuppertal, the extremely impressive mode of transport is never far away: a truly unique transport experience hidden in provincial Germany.
Almost 90% of the more than 192,500 dwellings in Wuppertal are privately owned. This proportion is very high in comparison with other independent cities. It demonstrates the highly individual character of the housing market. By contrast, the number of owner-occupied dwellings as a proportion of the total housing stock is very low at 19.7 %. The average figure for independent cities in North Rhine-Westphalia is 23.5 %. The vacancy rate has been relatively constant over recent years. According to the Techem-empirica vacancy index, there was an active vacancy rate of 3.9 percent in Wuppertal in 2011.
In this city, we see a current a current unemployment rate of 11.5%, which is slightly above the national average of 9% (2010 stats), but with all the other cities in the region, a strong job supply. Due to the nature of this 'manufacturing region', with the development of the German economy over the next few years, migrant and domestic workers will provide a reasonable increase in the city's population.
The Investment Districts of Wuppertal:
Seemingly popular with families, throughout the district of Barmen there are several elementary, primary and secondary schools. The youngest residents of the district are served from 15 day care centres. Barmen is a multi-district, with a roughly 50:50 split of single family homes and apartments, which offers something suitable and versatility for any home requirements. Boasting one of the city's 'centres', shopping and entertainment are within a stone's throw. Rents in this area are on a par with the city average.
(Vacancy Rate – 4.4%)
Oberbarmen is a relatively small, heavily populated district in the north-east of the city. A very high population density with a very high immigrant population and in parts monotonous and high storey houses characterize the district; therefore the rents are accordingly lower than elsewhere in the city. In the outlying areas of the district you can find more attractive settlements with prettier dwellings, allotments and sports grounds. Residents here are either price conscious individuals or families with children that are convinced that the district has moer than meets the eye.
(Vacancy Rate – 4.1%)
The centrally-located Elberfeld, situated to the west of Barmen, is the most populated of the Wuppertal districts and can thus be viewed as a de facto centre of the city, as the footfall is higher than that of Barmen's centre.
The municipality belongs to the district Elberfeld, but is itself divided into six districts because of its size. Deemed as the city centre, and right on the Wupper, this area boasts the Central Station, many shops, bars, clubs, cafés and cultural facilities and two large shopping centres.
The closely built-up northern city and neighbourhood of Ostersbaum is characterized by a high population density with a high immigrant population and a lively street scene. Low rent in large part, older homes, dozens of pubs and smaller grocery stores make the area especially attractive to younger people. Just behind the main railway station Südstadt beginning with its nearly ten thousand inhabitants to little more than half a square kilometre area in the most densely populated neighbourhoods across the city. Despite its central location and excellent transport links, the rents are cheap. For those who want to live close to the heartbeat of the city, Elberfeld to the right place for them, without ever straying far from the views and beauty of the landscape.
(Vacancy Rate – 3.7%)
It is not difficult to guess the location, but the district is the largest of the Elberfeld 'micro districts'. West Elberfeld is perhaps the most exciting and dynamic district of Wuppertal. Here, newly arrived students feel equally at home with the old industrial aristocracy. A popular area with a low vacancy rate.
(Vacancy Rate – 5.1%)