An area of farmland bordered by the forest
Back in the Middle Ages, Neuhof was an uninhabited area, stuck in the middle of the Rhine floodplain and covered by dense forest land. It was owned by the powerful lords of Lichtenberg, who held it in fief of the bishops of Strasbourg. The land was sold in 1372 to a wealthy bourgeois of the city.
The first documentary evidence of the name "Neue Hoff" appeared in 1424, in a paper drawn up for the creation of a farm and its estate belonging to a village across the Rhine called Hundsfelden. The estate was jointly owned by several families of Strasbourg nobles, including the Zorns and Endingens and was rented out to a farmer for development. The 96 shares in the estate were gradually bought up over the next century by the City, which became the sole owner of the property in 1647, at which point Neuhof officially became part of the territory of Strasbourg.
Apart from farm workers, there were few other inhabitants except for a few gold washers seeking nuggets in the Rhine alluvia, and a handful of salmon fisherman.
In 1699, the lands of Neuhof were bought from the City by the Jesuits, who set up a farm to supply the needs of the Royal College by the Cathedral (now the lycée Fustel de Coulanges). Workers employed on the farm built themselves small houses on what is now rue Parallèle and route d’Altenheim. In 1728, Neuhof was a small Catholic community of 130 inhabitants, who included agricultural workers, fishermen and woodcutters. Most of these people were manants, or Schirmer who were too poor to buy into the bourgeoisie. These manants enjoyed hereditary rights which, without giving them actual civic rights, offered them the protection of the City which, in order to complement their meagre resources, used to grant them small allotments to grow their food. New land grants were made by the city in the 18th century, and parts of the forest were thus cleared (Stockfeld means "field gained from the forest"). The Jesuits were thrown out in 1760, and the big estates were divided up after the Revolution and acquired by the farmers of Neuhof.
The development of the village
The mills built along the Rhin Tortu and the Ziegelwasser brought in new inhabitants from neighbouring villages. One example was in the Ganzau, where a small industrial complex, owned by Royal moneylender François de Klinglin, included a grain mill, a tobacco mill, a fulling mill, a hemp mill and a laundry. After the revolution, a dye works, a producer of "chicory coffee" and a manufacturer of strong glue also moved into the Ganzau.
In the 19th century, the village grew in size alongside the city. The population of Neuhof rose from 1000 in 1812 to over 3000 by 1900. A number of charity organisations moved into the area, while jobs for the new inhabitants were provided by new activities, such as the straw hat factory in rue Riehl (still visible in no.13) and the Graffenstaden production plant. Neuhof became officially recognised as a district in the mid-19th century, following the construction of two churches and two schools. In 1885, a tramline was built linking the quarter to the City. The line was electrified in 1896 and continue to operate until 1962. In 1900, however, the railway to Kehl was shifted south of Neudorf. The new railway, which cut between the two districts, was surrounded by a glacis zone on either side, where no building was allowed, and this resulted in the partial isolation of Neuhof.
The period of expansion
The construction of the Stockfeld garden city in 1910 was a turning point for the district. 450 housing units were built in the village for people whose homes had been demolished to make way for the new city centre development. A further 250 units, the cité Ribot, were added some 20 years later. At the same time, the northern part of the district underwent a radical transformation, with the building of the Feldartilleriekaserne military complex (which is now the Quartier Lizé , the Lyautey hospital and the IUFM teacher training college). The availability of cheap and plentiful land provided the impetus for the vast building operations in the 30 years after the Second World War.
1936 saw the start of large-scale rehousing operations in the district. The Office HBM low-cost housing organisation constructed over 300 housing units in temporary, two-storey buildings (the "Blechs" in rue des Canonniers and rue de la Klebsau) built using metal panels filled with sand and meant for people whose homes had been demolished as part of the City's " Grande percée" redevelopment scheme and also for those who had lost their homes in the First World War and who were still living in temporary dwellings set up in abandoned barracks. The last remaining "Blechs" were only demolished in 1970.
Some 12,000 homes were destroyed in Strasbourg in the Second World War and new accommodation had to be found for many of their inhabitants. The French Ministry of Re-housing and Urbanism put up 300 temporary housing units in Neuhof, which were called "chalets", but were in fact simple prefabs without any modern conveniences. The last of these were demolished in 1972, with the construction of the cité des Aviateurs.
The face of the district underwent considerable change between 1950 and 1972, with large-scale social housing development. All the farmland to the north of the district became built up, replaced by "functionalist" tower blocks, built using a variety of increasingly industrialised construction methods. Some 4000 social housing units were built between 1950 and 1972, thereby doubling the population of Neuhof, which by then contained the highest concentration of social housing within the urban sprawl.
In the 1970s, even before the new housing developments, the local population joined forces to claim an improvement in the public facilities, better transport connections and more green spaces, which had largely been put to one side in the rush to build new homes, and also to bring about improvement in the management of the developments (cleaning, maintenance, service charges, etc). This spirit of local cooperation is still one of the driving forces of Neuhof.
Since 1977, the City has made considerable efforts to improve the housing estates, with new facilities and renovated public areas, but this generally failed to bring the district within the dynamic of the conurbation's overall development.
The urban renovation, undertaken in the early 2000s, as part of the major city project (Grand Projet de Ville - GPV) and extended through the agreement signed with the French national agency for urban renovation (ANRU), marked a new turning point for the district.
The new project comprises three major development areas: improved transport connections with the arrival of the new tramline, a better and broader choice of housing, along with improved public facilities and support for local business initiatives.