By Kate Parvis, Toastmasters Agora 75, blogger-in-chief for the D59 2023 Conference

Eindhoven is a city in the Netherlands, located in the province of North Brabant. It is the largest city of the province and the fifth largest city in Holland, with a population of 227,000 people in 2021. Just as no one remembers who was the fifth man to walk on the moon, you may not have heard of Eindhoven, but it exists. In fact, the area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Still, the cavemen didn’t really do much with the place, perhaps because the Lowlands are quite sparse in the way of caves.

The city of Eindhoven as it is known today was founded in the 12th century by the Dukes of Brabant, a powerful medieval dynasty, and important patrons of the arts, culture, and education. They would have made excellent Toastmasters. The Duchy of Brabant ruled over much of what is now the Netherlands and Belgium, until the French revolutionaries decided they wanted to run the show and dissolved it, coincidentally grabbing a tidy chunk of territory in the process.

Eindhoven was a small town for centuries, until one night in the late 1800s, after draining a stein of delicious craft beer, it thought “It’s time to start industrializing,” whereupon the next day, the industrious Eindhovians rolled up their sleeves and developed it into a major city, which is, of course, more than the French Republic ever did.

Thereby ensued a significant increase in population and economic prosperity, interrupted in World War II by the German Luftwaffe, who bombed the city flat in the aptly—or ironically—named “Operation Market Garden,” which left unscathed few markets or gardens. Undaunted, the hardy city rebuilt itself and by the fifties, was once again humming along.

From tragedy springs innovation. Eindhoven, flattened and rebuilt, has a diverse architectural landscape, from the old and traditional to the new and contemporary. Indeed, it became a playground for architects with far-out ideas, perhaps after spending a bit too much time in coffee shops in Amsterdam. You’d certainly have to be in a psychedelic mood to design the Evoluon building, shaped like a flying saucer, or at least like flying saucers were supposed to look in the fifties, which is when the Dutch architect, Jacobus Oud, came up with the design. Jacobus, phone home! (upcoming blog article on Eindhoven architecture).Une image contenant clipart

Philips, one of the world’s largest electronics companies, was founded in Eindhoven in 1891 and has had a significant impact on the city’s development. Since then, a giant lightbulb was lit above the city’s head, and Eindhoven has since become a major center of technology and innovation, particularly in the field of electronics and electrical engineering. Eindhoven is known for its high-tech industry, research and development, and excellent universities.

But Eindhoven isn’t all just work, work, work, study, study, study—no siree! It’s known for having a vibrant nightlife, and one of the most popular areas for going out is the Stratumseind, also known as the Bar Street, one of the longest nightlife streets in Europe with over 40 different bars and pubs. The city also has a strong reputation for its vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, galleries, and music venues. (the topic of an upcoming article in this blog!)

Last but not least, dear readers, Eindhoven will host the 2023 District 59 conference, from May 5 to 7!