It is the birthplace of the former German chancellor Helmut Kohl and the philosopher Ernst Bloch. In antiquity, Celtic and Germanic tribes settled in the Rhine Neckar area. The Middle Ages saw the foundation of some of Ludwigshafen's future suburbs, including Oggersheim, Maudach, Oppau and Mundenheim; most of the area, however, remained swampland, its development hindered by seasonal flood of the Rhine river.The Rhine Neckar region was part of the territory of the Prince-elector of the Kurpfalz, or Electorate of the Palatinate, one of the larger states within the Holy Roman Empire.
With more jobs available, the population of Ludwigshafen increased rapidly.
In 1899 the city was governing more than 62,000 residents (compared to 1,500 in 1852).
Oggersheim in particular gained some importance, after the construction of both a small palace serving as secondary residence for the Elector, and the famous pilgrimage church, Wallfahrtskirche.
For some weeks in 1782, the great German writer and playwright Friedrich Schiller lived in Oggersheim, on flight from his native Württemberg).
In the area between the city centre and those two suburbs new quarters (“North” and “South”) were built after (then) modern urban development plans.
Because the ground was marshy and too low to be protected from Rhine floods, all the new houses were built on raised ground, sometimes as high as 5 metres above the original ground.
Visitors can see the original ground level in many backyards of Ludwigshafen, which are sometimes two floors below street level.
During World War I (1914-1918), Ludwigshafen's industrial plants played a key role in Germany's war economy, producing chemical ingredients for munitions, as well as much of the poison gas used on the Western Front.
In the 17th century the region was devastated and depopulated during the Thirty Years' War, and also in King Louis XIV of France´s wars of conquest in the later part of the century.
It was only in the 18th century that the settlements around the Rheinschanze began to prosper, profiting from the proximity of the capital Mannheim.
This population explosion looked quite “American” to contemporaries; it determined Ludwigshafen's character as a “worker's city”, and created problematic shortages of housing and real estate.