Although Bochum was founded in the 14th century, the town was insignificant until the 19th century, when coal mining and steel industry emerged in the Ruhr area, leading to the growth of the entire region. The population of Bochum increased tenfold between 1850 and 1890.
Bochum remained a pure mining town until about 1960. Then the mines were closed one by one, and in 1973 the last coal mine ceased to exist. Other industrial branches, e.g. automobile industry, compensated for the loss of jobs. In 1965 the Ruhr University was opened, the first university in the Ruhr area.
There are few sights in Bochum. Two castles from the Middle Ages survived on the northern banks of the Ruhr river. More famous are the German Mining Museum, and the nostalgic Train Museum in the borough of Dahlhausen.