A milestone will be reached this year as the City of Peoria celebrates the 30th anniversary of its sister-city relationship with Friedrichshafen, Germany. Due in large part to the efforts of then-Mayor Richard Carver, Friedrichshafen became the first of what are now three sister-cities. President Eisenhower encouraged sister-city relationships because, “…wars are less likely if the people of each country have friendships and a deeper level of understanding.”
The realization that it would be beneficial for us to extend our friendship to Friedrichshafen formed an outstanding model for our future sister-city relationships with Clonmel, Ireland and Benxi, China.
I’m very excited about the opportunity I have to visit our friends in Friedrichshafen later this month to mark the anniversary of our thriving relationship. I’m honored that Mayor Carver and others who’ve played a significant role in the success of the relationship will be there as well. It’ll be my first trip to Europe and, obviously, a very special time for both of our cities.
Friedrichshafen is located in southwest Germany on the northern edge of Lake Constance, Europe’s 14th largest inland lake. The city is a regional economic center and a very popular vacation destination, as well as the regional seat of government. When the Zeppelin airship traffic began in July 1900, Friedrichshafen began its climb to becoming a major junction for world air traffic. Its population rose from 5,000 in 1900 to almost 28,000 in the mid-WWII years. Friedrichshafen’s economic importance was also the reason for the vast devastation it incurred by WWII bombings, which destroyed two-thirds of the city.
The people of Friedrichshafen are very proud that their city was completely rebuilt within 10 years and has developed into an outstanding community that, today, numbers in excess of 55,000 residents.
Our relationship with Friedrichshafen has been enhanced by the fact that it’s the Caterpillar dealer for the entire region. How wonderful for both of our cities to have such a close relationship with a world leader such as Caterpillar. We’ve also enjoyed an exchange program with Friedrichshafen whereby, on alternating years, we take turns sending and receiving exchange students to our cities.
As the world truly becomes smaller and relationships with countries around the world become more important in the new global economy, the opportunities we have to partner become exceedingly significant. The vision and leadership of Mayor Carver and others have proven to be beneficial to Peoria. As we move forward, it’ll be imperative that we look at opportunities such as this one with Friedrichshafen when considering further partnerships around the world. IBI