Windmills have been a part of the city's landscape for over six centuries. 's-Hertogenbosch's first windmill served its inhabitants as early as 1296. Unfortunately, this glorious age came to an end with the demolition of its last remaining windmill in 1939. Exactly how many windmills Den Bosch had is unknown, but in 1545 there were at least 17. The number of windmills has always varied due to natural disasters like storms and lighting strikes, fires, city expansion and economic decline. Technical improvements and the appearance of the steam engine brought an end to the use of windmills which were originally a Japanese invention.