The city is a product of economical growth in the 19th century. It was rural area until about 1860, when coal mining and steel production began to turn the Ruhr area into a huge industrial complex. Several villages merged in 1862 to form the artificial city. In 1929 the adjoining towns of Sterkrade and Osterfeld were incorporated into Oberhausen.
Oberhausen is a typical Ruhr area city, which was founded in order to become an industrial centre for miners and steelworkers. Today the city tries to get a new image. In the 1990s a new city centre was inaugurated. There is an art gallery and an international short film festival in Oberhausen.