The Port of Rotterdam, also known as Europoort (Eurogate), has been an important trading center since approximately AD 1250. The history of the port reflects the evolution of the world’s economic base. Originally serving the North Sea herring fleets, it rapidly grew into a major mercantile port during the Dutch colonial period. The 19th century witnessed the Industrial Revolution, and steel and coal became major commodities passing through the port. Following the development of petroleum as a primary energy resource in the early 20th century, the port expanded westward to accommodate storage facilities and large oil tankers.
This westward expansion continued beyond the coastline in the 1970s, when a portion of the sea was cordoned off and drained to create the facilities visible in this astronaut photograph. Large petroleum storage tank fields and docks for supertankers occupy the center of the image. In 2004, more than 350 million tons of cargo passed through the port.
The image illustrates the close proximity of the Europoort to the surrounding cities of Hoek van Holland, Oostvoorne, Brielle. Between Oostvoorne and Brielle, a mixture of fertile and fallow agricultural fields create a green and tan checkboard. The presence of the port and its seawalls interrupts southward-flowing coastal currents, leading to accumulation of sediment to the south (lower left of image). Numerous ship wakes are visible within the port complex itself and in the North Sea, in the upper part of the image.