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At the time, Esbjerg consisted of only a few farms.Developed under royal decree from 1868 until 1874, the harbour was officially opened in 1874, with rail connections to Varde and to Fredericia, an important hub on the east coast of Jutland.The Esbjerg Performing Arts Centre was completed in 1997 to designs by Jan and Jørn Utzon.

The market square (Torvet) was positioned at the centre, midway between the harbour and the railway station.

In 1893, Esbjerg became a municipality in its own right (initially known as Esbjerg Ladeplads), receiving the status and privileges of a market town in 1899 and incorporating the parish of Jerne (east of the centre) in 1945.

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.

Esbjerg developed quickly with the population rising to 13,000 by 1901 and 70,000 by 1970.

In addition to its fishing and shipping activities, it also became an important centre for agricultural exports.Initial planning of the town was conducted by chartered surveyor H.Wilkens in 1870 with streets laid out in the form of a rectangular grid.Once Denmark's principal fishing port, the Port of Esbjerg is still a driving force for the town's economy.While it has a long history of ferry services to England, the town is by no means a tourist destination.It is home to the Danish football club Esbjerg f B, who play their home matches at Blue Water Arena, and also has an ice hockey division called Esbjerg Elite Ishockey, which plays at the Granly Hockey Arena.

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