Gera is a county-level city in eastern Thuringia. Behind the state capital Erfurt Gera is to surface on the second and after the population behind Jena in third place in Thuringia. Gera is located on the White Elster in the East Thuringian hills about 200 meters above sea level and is part of the metropolitan region of central Germany. Leipzig is located about 60 kilometers to the north, 80 kilometers west of Erfurt, Zwickau about 40 kilometers southeast and Chemnitz about 70 kilometers east. Gera has historical significance as the capital of the Principality of Reuss younger line (1848 to 1918) and the people's state Reuss (1918 to 1920). With the onset of industrialization in the mid-19th century, the city experienced a major economic and population growth. Gera was the heyday of the fabric and cloth industry one of the richest cities in Germany. About 100 sometimes very significant townhouses (such as Villa Schulenburg) bear witness to the splendor and wealth of yesteryear. The city was during the 19th century and to the transport hub, as meet many railway lines at the main station. During World War II, from May 1944 to April 1945, Gera was partially destroyed by air strikes. After the founding of the GDR in 1952, the city was the seat of the newly created district Gera. Since 1990 it belongs administratively back to Thuringia and here is one of three regional centers. The city is home to the University of Cooperative Education Gera and a private medical college and was the 2007 Federal Garden Show venue.