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The word Bergisch in the name does not originate from its location in the earldom of Berg and was not added to distinguish it from Mönchengladbach as believed by many people, but from the earls who gave their name to the region. At the start of the 12th century the earls of "Berg" settled in the area and it became the grand duchy of Berg. This is where the first part of the name (Bergisch) comes from.
The second part of the name, Gladbach (cognate with English Ladbrooke) originates from Low German (Bergisches Platt) and means canalised stream, referring to the small river (the Strunde) that was artificially canalised (laid) in early medieval times. In Bergisch Platt, the regional dialect, laid is said gelaat, a word which eventually evolved to glad (in this case the 'd' is pronounced as a 't'). The second part of the word, bach is the standard German word for a small stream, referring in this case to the Strunde.
In 1975 the city incorporated the neighbouring Bensberg and when it reached a population of 100,000 in 1977 it was given municipality status.