The dawn of a new era

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J. Elias, Strijp bij Eindhoven (Holland) Cotton and Linen Mill

When the second industrial revolution reached the southern Netherlands at the end of the nineteenth century, industry was already prospering in the small Brabant town of Eindhoven.

A new canal and train connections with Belgium, among other places, facilitated the import of flax yarn, cotton, wood, and tobacco from all over the world. These products left the busy region as cloth, cigars and matches. Tobacco, linen, and cotton factories flourished along the waterfront of rivers such as the Dommel, whereas neighboring communities mostly thrived on agriculture and home labor activities such as weaving.

Eindhoven was a regional trade, traffic, and administrative center, where Vincent van Gogh, who lived in the nearby village Nuenen, bought his paint. The town had a district court, education and medical facilities, as well as a post office. An Eindhoven factory produced gaslight as early as 1857.

The relatively quiet pace of development sped up in 1891, when the electrical engineer Gerard Philips came to town, followed a few years later by his brother Anton. Philips had noticed the large and inexpensive regional labor force and purchased a cheap and modern factory building. This little factory marked the start the era of electricity and electric light in the region.

How to cite this page


Giel van Hooff, 'The dawn of a new era', Inventing Europe,


  1. De Canon van Eindhoven, edited by Harry Lintsen and Peter Thoben. ‘s-Hertogenbosch, 2009.



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About this tour


Eindhoven: Bulbs, Brains, and Design

In the course of a century, Eindhoven developed from a regional trade center to a global technological hub. Philips, car and truck factory DAF, and subsequently VDL Group and Philips offshoots ASML, FEI, and Neways Electronics made the city famous for technology and innovation. While design became another of the city’s trademarks, innovation center Brainport is working hard to secure the region’s future in valorizing knowledge.

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Eindhoven in the 19th century

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