The Filder Plain is a plateau located between the Neckar River and the Schönbuch highland region. The landscape is characterized by expansive meadowlands, small forests, and the Körsch Valley. The date of the earliest settlement in the area within the present city limits of Osfildern is unknown. The first documented references to towns in the area date from the 12th and 13th centuries. The first town to be mentioned was Nellingen, in the year 1120; the name is derived from an Alemannic name, of a person called "Nallo." The next town documented was Ruit, then called "Rutte." The name likely referred to "gerodetes Land," or "cleared land." Another explanation is that Ruit was derived from "Ried," meaning "wet meadows." Kemnat was mentioned in a document in the year 1229. The name of the town comes from the word "Kemenate." Scharnhausen, finally, was mentioned in a document in 1242, initially referred to as "Husen." The name is derived from that of a local knight called "Walther, Scharre von Husen."
Buildings of historical importance
Even if the organizational patterns of the former villages in the neighborhoods in Ostfildern can hardly be discerned at first glance, there are still a number of buildings that attest to the area's history: in Scharnhausen, for instance, the City Hall dating from 1596; in Ruit, for example, the "Hirschbogen" or "Stag Arch," or the old parsonage, whic is said to have been built in the year 1608. A noteworthy building in Kemnat is the old City Hall, dating from the year 1579 . Not far away from it, in Heumadener Street, are the buildings of the former sheep farm of the House of Württemberg, whose existence has been dated to the 15th century, and which was in operation until 1824.
The Nellingen Priory, an administrative center belonging to the Monastery of St. Blaise, had a dominant position in the village and within the surrounding communities between the 13th and 17th centuries. The Priory stood under the protection of the House of Württemberg. This close connection to the emerging noble family had devastating consequences for Nellingen and Kemnat during the South German City War: Both villages were destroyed by the Free Imperial City of Esslingen in the year 1449. Ruit met the same fate in 1519, and in Scharnhausen, in the year 1590 a fire caused extensive damage.
Due to the Priory, Nellingen's importance extended beyond the local region -- which is not to say that Kemnat, Ruit and Scharnhausen were wholly unimportant villages. Kemnat, for instance, the name of which is derived from the Middle High German word "Kemenate," and conceivably refers to a castle owned by a local noble family, also exercised authority over the hamlet of Stockhausen, a former "grand village" in the Körsch Valley, which stood under the pastoral authority of the church in Neuhausen. Today the Stockhausen Mill from the year 1555 bears witness to this history.
In 1784, Duke Carl Eugen of the House of Württemberg had a small palace built in the early classicist style, with a distinctive colonnade, in the Körsch Valley near Scharnhausen. The gardens were expanded in the beginning of the 19th century to accommodate the Royal Private Stud Farm in Scharnhausen -- "Scharnhauser Park."
The name "Scharnhauser Park" did not originate with advertising copywriters, but rather can be traced back 200 years in state history. Its beginnings are to be found in the Körsch Valley near Scharnhausen. There, in 1784, Duke Carl Eugen built a small palace in the early classicist style, whose English gardens and wild-game enclosure ultimately became an agricultural estate owned by the royal family. King Wilhelm I expanded the area of the grounds and established the Royal Private Stud Farm. It was renowned throughout Europe for breeding Arabian horses, and this tradition continues today at the State Stud Farm in Marbach.
During the Second World War, an airport was established on the grounds, and after the war, American troops occupied Scharnhauser Park. With the ending of the Cold War, in November 1992, the last American GI left the Park.
Agriculture and small-scale artisanal businesses played a defining role in the lives of people on the eastern Filder Plain even into the 19th century. Factories were not established here at that time: The plateau had neither sufficient hydropower nor a satisfactory transportation infrastructure.
The Neckar Valley around Esslingen and the nearby city of Stutgart, however, did possess these locational advantages. There, rapid industrialization occurred in the middle of the 19th century. For Nellingen, Kemnat, Ruit and Scharhausen, this held out the promise of sought-after jobs - which, however, were not nearby. And so, many laborers set off every day on a long journey on foot to the factories and building companies in Esslingen and Stuttgart. The former farming villages were turning more and more into working-class communities.
In 1926, residents of Nellingen could ride to work on the newly built Esslingen-Nellingen-Denkendorf trolley line. Within three years, this convenient transportation option was also available to residents of Scharnhausen. The uncommon overland-streetcar of those days promised a relaxing ride through the dreamy world of the Filder Plain, "far away from the noise of the big city."
This situation changed in the 1960s and 1970s: The development of transportation infrastructure in the 1930s, including the autobahn and the airport, together with the location in the middle of the Stuttgart urban area and the mostly flat landscape combined to make the Filder Plain a top choice for the establishment of industrial zones with a promising future. A number of companies set up operations here, and the Filder Plain became a prosperous region.
The considerable population growth in the city since the end of the Second World War, from 10,000 to today's 40,000 inhabitants, was due not only to the arrival of refugees and people expelled from former German territories, but also to population pressure resulting from the economic expansion of the post-war period. The Parksiedlung neighborhood, which was built up in the 1950s and 1960s between Nellingen and Ruit, serves as a record of this period of growth. Since 1996, Scharnhauser Park has also contributed to the growth in the number of city residents.
In the look and feel of Ostfildern's neighborhoods today, there is evidence of change: A contemporary municipal infrastructure has been built, with a wide choice of schools, child-care centers, festival halls and municipal buildings, sports facilities, and two indoor swimming pools. The former villages have been transformed into appealing communities. Following the merger of Kemnat, Nellingen, Ruit and Scharnhausen to form the city of Ostfildern in the year 1975, the city's neighborhoods have taken on an urban character. In 1976, Ostfildern attained the status of a "large county town."