MÜLHAUSEN (in French: Mulhouse), the chief town of a circle and the industrial centre Upper Alsace, Germany, lies between the Ill, and affluent of the Rhine, and the Rhine-Rhone Canal, about 56 miles to the south of Strasburg and 18 to the north-west of Basel.
The old town, surrounded by arms of the Ill, has narrow and irregular streets, while to the south, on the canal, lie the handsome villas and fine promenades of the new town. Most of the older buildings have had to make way for manufactories, so that the town-house, dating from 1552, is an almost solitary witness to the towns mediaeval prosperity. The Roman Catholic church of St. Stephen, the new Protestant church, the building of the Société Industrielle, and the new Musée are the most prominent modern buildings. The educational institutions include a gymnasium, modern schools, technical schools fo the various handicrafts, and an academy in which designers are trained for the tectile industries of the town.
The most important interest of Mülhausen centres in the making of cotton and muslin goods, and calico-printing. This industry was introduced in 1746, and was since steadily prospered in the hands of several wealthy families which are closely connected by intermarriage and lend each other a firm and powerful financial support. From 20,000 to 24,000 hands in the town and upwards of 60,000 in the neighbourhood are engaged in textile manufactures, the products of which are exported to all parts of the world. The manufactures of machinery, locomotives and railway plant, chemical, and hardware are also important.
A very noteworthy feature connected with the rise of the commercial prosperity of the town is the attention paid by the manufacturers to the wellbeing of their workpeople. In 1853, John Dollfuss, mayor of the town, founded the "workman's quarter" to the north-east of the old town , which now consists of about 1,000 model buildings, with public bath-, wash-, and bake-houses, library, &c. The houses are let on a system by which the occupant becomes the owner after the payment of a certain number of monthly installments.
Besides this more prominent effort, which has been the model for similar attempts in many other towns, a "Société Industrielle" for the encouragement of original discovery and invention among the workmen has existed since 1825, and there are various benevolent societies, including a large institution with 250 beds for the reception of ages workmen. Mülhausen also carries on an active trade in grain, wine, colonial produce, and timber, which is much facilitated by its fine river harbour.
After the annexation of Alsace to Germany in 1871 the French sympathies of the inhabitants were shown by the extraordinary decrease in the number of its inhabitants. The population has now, however, regained its full proportions, amounting in 1880 to 63,629, of whom 47, 395 were Roman Catholics.
Mentioned as early as 717, Mülhausen was raised to the rank of a free town of the empire in 1198, and received very extensive privileges from Rudolph of Hapsburg in 1273. It suffered considerably in maintain its independence. In 1446 it expelled its nobles and formed an alliance with Switzerland, and this became a permanent union in 1515. By the peace of Westphalia (1648) it was recognized as an independent ally of the Swiss League. In 1798 it sought incorporation with France from motives of commercial policy, and in 1871 it passed to Germany.
Compare Metzger, La République de Mulhouse 717-1798 (1876); and Schall, Das Arbeitetquartier von Mülhausen (1876).