The history of Rotterdam began in the second half of the thirteenth century with the establishment of a dam on the river Rotte. Rotterdam received municipal rights in 1340, and twenty years later the city had its own city wall.
Around 1875 the city was breaking apart at the seams. They were building south, north and west of the city. At the end of the nineteenth and at the beginning of the twentieth century, working-class areas were built. People lived here in poor circumstances. In the 1920's and 1930's they tried to improve the quality of life. Communal gardens were laid out in the Spangen quarter and in the Kiefhoek quarter they tried to combine functionality with architecture.
In May 1940 virtually the entire city centre was devastated by a German bombardment. West-Kralingen and the 300 year old harbour were also destroyed. On a surface area of 260 hectare, almost 25,000 houses, 24 churches, 13 hospitals, 63 school buildings, 25 public buildings and 6,000 commercial properties were destroyed. The city was redrawn
The oldest harbour areas on the southern bank of the river Meuse were modernized at the beginning of the 1980's. The conversion of the Leuvehaven and Wijnhaven into the tourist centre Waterstad, consisting of hotels, esplanades, theatres and museums, is one of the most recent developments. Another prestigious project is the Kop van Zuid on the southern bank of the Meuse. Here lies the Wilhelminahof office block and the former Holland-America Line building that has been converted into a hotel. The Kop van Zuid is connected to the city centre by the impressive Erasmus bridge (1996).