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The city as it is today was founded in 1054 by Lopez Vazquez who was the Señor of the city (village at that time). Industry developed quite early, accelerating during the 18th and 19th centuries. During the 19th century, mining activities nearby helped in the growth of the city. In fact, Barakaldo was in the middle of transports roads between mining zones and the harbour. Its proximity to Bilbao also played an important role in its expansion.
After the Spanish Civil War, the city continued to attract immigrants from rural zones of the Basque Country, especially from other places in Spain, with the promise of finding a better future. The population reached a peak of 100,000 people in the late 1970s.
During the great crisis of the 1970s, unemployment rose significantly, to more than 20 percent, and many people left the city. Many companies closed their doors including AHV, Altos Hornos de Vizcaya, where more than 10,000 people worked at the peak of industrial activity. There were also many ship building companies. That’s one of the reasons why there aren't many brigdes in the zone.
However, during the last years some initiatives have been put in place in order to improve the situation. One of those initiatives is the Bilbao Exhibition Centre, which because of a lack of space, is moving from Bilbao to Barakaldo. San Vizenteko Dorreak and Loizaga Taldea are also part of this improvement. Many parks are being built as well as social flats designed to be more affordable than normal ones. Most of those initiatives are being developed in depressed industrial zones, such as the land that occupied the AHV company.