“Old” Stuttgart is located in the valley of the Neckar River (Flüss Neckar) surrounded by steep hills up to 300 meters high. On many of these hilltops and other valleys were independent villages with their own town centers. Stuttgart grew from a city of almost 300,000 to over 500,000 in the 1920’s mainly by annexing many of these surrounding villages. At late as 1942, they incorporated the village of Möhringen into their city. (The words annex and incorporate are used descriptively and do not necessarily have the same legal meaning as used in the United States; these villages may or may not have been cities in their own right). The map shown below, labelled by others as “Stuttgart’s suburbs” is really a map of Stuttgart’s neighborhoods, many of which were these former villages. Gerlingen on the west is outside the city limits and is one of the many separate cities or suburbs that surround the city.
Given the terrain of mountainous forests and valleys, the results is that 40 % of Stuttgart’s current land area of 207 square kilometers is protected forest. As can be seen in Figure 2, these forests are located throughout the city, not merely on the perimeter or the far east or west. Historically, these forests were considered too steep for building and now, they are mostly owned by the state of Baden-Württemberg or the City. The state not only owns the forest land, they also manage and harvest the timber themselves, bringing in revenue to the state. Decades if not centuries of forest management in Germany could and probably has filled the pages of several research papers.
In addition, 10% of the land area is agriculture; this land use is also considered essential for many reasons, not the least of which is climate; the winds from the mountains need the corridors provided by the agricultural lands to cool the city in the summertime. Retaining agriculture designation was aided if not enforced by national legislation in the 1960’s. Again, this crucial practice will be left for another research paper. Despite the industrial growth spurred by the invention of the automobile in the late 1800’s simultaneously in both Bad Cannstatt, (formerly a village and now a neighborhood of Stuttgart) and nearby Mannheim, and the resulting development pressures, Stuttgart retained both of these types of crucial “Open Space” that make Stuttgart a very green and visually attractive city.
There are a few indications of the terrain when you look at the public transit system:
- Typical slope for the Light Rail is as high as 7 %, and one line is even steeper, 8.5%.
- There are several tunnels for the light rail trains, which flatter cities don’t have to fund.
- There is one cog rail line, with a trailer for bikes.
- There is one cable car line, which serves a cemetery.