The effects of the decline of industry on urban development can particularly be felt in the former nineteenth-century industrial regions in Europe. In Germany the Ruhr Area was one of the most important industrial regions with a dominance of heavy industry (coal, steel, chemicals and energy). Although the area had a strong urbanisation level, the urbanisation pattern was strongly influ-enced by the development of industry. Thus, the southern parts were more urbanised as the later developed northern parts and suburbs in the neighbourhood of the plants soon dominated the urban fabric to the detriment of the former centres. Although the area had a population of over 5 million inhabitants and the urbanisation level was quite high, plans to make one administrative region never were successful. The decline of heavy industry, which started in the 1970s., showed a comparable pattern as in other European (and American) industrial regions. Compared to other regions of Europe, which were affected by the decline of industry, the Ruhr Area did not collapse totally.Thanks to the policies of the central and regional government (Bund and Land) it was possible to transform the area partially (ecological, cultural and educational policies). However, the existence of independent urban communities could be seen as a problem, because it led to strong inter-urban competition at a moment that the incomes of these communities dimin-ished. The decline of industry not only meant the development of social weaker traditional urban centres with mass unemployment, but also placed a heavy burden on urban governments to supply social help.