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, city, Netherlands
Rotterdam (rŏtˈərdămˌ, Dutch rôtərdämˈ), city (1994 pop. 598,521), South Holland prov., W Netherlands, on the Nieuwe Maas (New Meuse) River near its mouth on the North Sea. One of the largest and most modern ports in the world, Rotterdam is the major foreign-trade center of the Netherlands and its second largest city. The city's inner port, which lies mainly on the left bank of the Nieuwe Maas, is connected to Hoek van Holland, its outer port, by the New Waterway. Europoort, a large harbor area opposite Hoek van Holland built largely in the 1960s, is designed chiefly for unloading and storing petroleum. Among the bridges and tunnels spanning the Nieuwe Maas is the elegant Erasmus Bridge (1996). Rotterdam owes its importance mainly to the transit trade with the Ruhr district of NW Germany, with which it is connected by several waterways and oil pipelines. The city is also a center of industry—the petrochemical industry being the most crucial to its economy. Rotterdam was chartered in 1328. Although it grew considerably due to the efforts of the Dutch statesman Johan van Oldenbarneveldt (1547–1619), the city was long overshadowed by neighboring Delft and its port Delfshaven (a present suburb of Rotterdam), from where the Pilgrims sailed to America. The separation (1830) of Belgium from the Netherlands diverted much trade from Antwerp to Rotterdam. However, Rotterdam experienced its principal growth with the construction (1866–90) of the New Waterway, making the port accessible to the large oceangoing vessels, along with the industrial expansion in NW Germany from the late 19th cent. and the European economic boom after World War II. During World War II the entire city center was destroyed by German air bombardment (May 14, 1940), several hours after it had capitulated. Most of the old houses of Rotterdam (including the birthplace of Erasmus) were destroyed; the Groote Kerk (a 15th-century church) was damaged. Among the noteworthy buildings that survived the raid were the stock exchange (18th cent.), the city hall (1920), and the Boymans–Van Beuningen Museum, with its collection of paintings by Dutch masters. Rotterdam's institutions of higher learning include Erasmus Univ. and the International School of Economics. The city is the birthplace of the 17th-century painter Peter de Hooch.


, town, United States
Rotterdam, town (1990 pop. 21,228), Schenectady co., E N.Y.; settled c.1670, inc. 1821. It is residential.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city in the Netherlands, in the province of South Holland. Largest port in the world, and the most important commercial and industrial center in the country. Second largest city in the Netherlands (after Amsterdam); population, 614,800(1973).

Rotterdam is located on both banks of the northern branch of the Rhine River delta, called the New Maas River. The city is connected with the North Sea by a deepwater canal—the New Waterway—and is accessible to large, oceangoing vessels; the Hook of Holland is the outer harbor. Rotterdam is a junction for railroad lines and air routes (Zestienhoven Airport).

Rotterdam’s location, at the mouth of the Rhine, in relation to internal and external waterways facilitated the city’s economic growth and helped make it an important transit and freight-reloading point for cargo shipped to and from the North Sea along the Rhine. The port handles approximately two-thirds of the country’s total exports and imports and approximately three-quarters of all the freight carried on the Rhine—as much as 300 million tons. The principal imports are petroleum (70 percent of all imports), ferrous and nonferrous metal ores, coal, timber, rubber, chemicals, grain, and cotton. Exports include petroleum products (70 percent of all exports), coal from the Ruhr basin, chemicals, machinery, equipment, and ships, as well as metals and food products. More than one-fifth of the exports and imports passing through Rotterdam are transit goods.

Rotterdam and the surrounding areas form a highly developed industrial region, whose industry is based primarily on imported raw materials. Rotterdam is one of the leading Western European oil-refining and petrochemical centers, producing plastics, nitrogen fertilizers, and other products. The oil refineries, belonging to Royal Dutch-Shell, British Petroleum, Esso, Chevron, and Gulf, have an output of approximately 90 million tons (1974), and the principal plants are located in the areas of Botlek and Pernis. From Rotterdam west to Schiedam and Vlaardingen and southeast to Dordrecht there is a chain of machine-building enterprises, shipyards, and enterprises for the production of port equipment. There are also electronics and metalworking factories. Rotterdam also has many enterprises in the food and condiment industry and light industries producing feeds, margarine, tea, cocoa, coffee, textiles, and clothing.

In Rotterdam are the headquarters of the Anglo-Dutch international monopolies Royal Dutch-Shell and Unilever, as well as the Rotterdam Bank. The Erasmus University of Rotterdam, the Academy of Arts, a conservatory, the National Institute of Shipping and Shipbuilding, the Royal Netherlands Natural History Society, the General Netherlands Society for Social Medicine and Public Health, and other scientific organizations are located in the city. Museums include the Rotterdam Historical Museum, the Prins Hendrik Maritime Museum, a picture gallery, and the Museum of Ethnology. The city’s largest libraries are the Municipal Library and the Library of the Erasmus University of Rotterdam.

Rotterdam is first mentioned in sources in 1282. In 1299 it received city rights. During the Middle Ages, the city was a center of herring fishing. In the 1880’s and 1890’s, following the 1882 opening of the New Waterway, connecting the city with the North Sea, Rotterdam became one of the largest ports in the world. It was the center of the Dutch workers’ and democratic movement; there were demonstrations in support of Soviet Russia in 1918 and barricade fights in the summer of 1934.

Rotterdam’s medieval buildings include the Gothic Church of St. Lawrence (15th–17th centuries). Since 1922, the city has been one of the centers of development of Dutch rationalist architecture; examples of the school’s designs include the Van Nelle factory and workers’ residential regions (such as the Kief-hoek Estate, 1925–29, architect J. J. P. Oud). During World War II, Rotterdam was heavily damaged; it was especially heavily bombed by fascist German air power on May 14, 1940. The reconstruction plan (1946, architect K. van Traa; completed 1955–60) for the destroyed central part of the city mainly called for high-rise buildings. Suburban regions are being built, as well as the three satellite cities of Hoogvliet, Botlek, and Har-ingvliet. Modern construction projects include the Lijnbaan commercial center (1949–53, architects J. H. van den Broek and J. B. Bakema) and the department store De Bijenkorf (1956–57, architect M. Breuer). The city also has many monuments and large-scale sculptures (M. S. Andriessen, M. Marini, H. Moore, O. Zadkine).


[Krasheninnikova, N. L.] Rotterdam. [Moscow, 1969.]
Blijstra, R. Rotterdam stad in beweging. Amsterdam, 1965.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a port in the SW Netherlands, in South Holland province: the second largest city of the Netherlands and one of the world's largest ports; oil refineries, shipbuilding yards, etc. Pop.: 600 000 (2003 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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