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A number of institutions and facilities were soon established, including the courthouse and town hall (1891), the gas and waterworks (1896) and the power plant (1907).
From the beginning of the 20th century, Esbjerg prospered not only as a fishing port but became one of the country's major export centres.
With an urban population of 71,618 (as of 1 January 2016 it is the fifth-largest city in Denmark, and the largest in west Jutland.
Before a decision was made to establish a harbour (now the second largest in Denmark) at Esbjerg in 1868, the area consisted of only a few farms.
The Esbjerg Performing Arts Centre was completed in 1997 to designs by Jan and Jørn Utzon.
When approached by sea, the Man Meets the Sea is one of the prominent monuments, consisting of four 9-metre-tall (27 feet) white-coloured men, overlooking Sædding Beach.
Over the years, many of the city's visitors have arrived by ferry from Harwich, Essex, England, but this service closed in September 2014 having run since 1875.
In addition to its fishing and shipping activities, it also became an important centre for agricultural exports.Established in 1895 by nine local dairies, the butter-packaging factory, Dansk Andels Smørpakkeri, employed some 150 workers until 1920, packing and dispatching butter for the London market.It was later extended to include egg marketing under the name Dansk Andels Ægeksport.Lonely Planet remarked that "nobody comes to Esbjerg for a holiday, in fact, as with many industrial ports, most visitors rush through as quickly as possible".Esbjerg is the main town for Denmark's oil and offshore activities, with companies like Maersk, Ramboll, Stimwell Services, ABB, Schlumberger, COWI and Atkins all having offshore-related activities in the town. The port has served the Danish offshore industry since oil and gas were first extracted from the North Sea in the early 1970s.