OFFENBACH, the principal manufacturing town in the grand duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt, lies on the left bank of the Main, 5 miles above Frankfort. The most interesting building in the town is the old Renaissance chateau of the counts of Isenburg, while the most conspicuous modern edifices are the five churches, the synagogue, the new residence of the Isenburg family, and the town-hall. The manufactures of Offenbach are of the most varied description, including carriages, machinery, hardwares, chemicals, aniline dyes, soap, perfumery, candles, chicory, gingerbread, tobacco and cigars, shoes, hats, felt goods, wax-cloth, paper, varnish, white lead, types, canvas, and woollen cloth. Its characteristic industry, however, is the manufacture of portfolios, pocket-books, albums, and other fancy goods in leather, which are largely exported to England, the United States, and other countries. The population in 1880 was 28,440, including 17,566 Protestants and 8782 Roman Catholics.
The earliest mention of Offenbach is in a document of 970. In 1486 it came into the possession of the imperial counts of Isenburg, and in 1816, on their mediatization, was assigned to Hesse. It owes its prosperity partly to the fact that it became the residence of the Isenburg family in 1685, but mainly to the industry of the French Protestant refugees who settled here at the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century.