Hilversum is a municipality and a city in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland. Located in the region called “Het Gooi”, it is the largest town in that area. It is surrounded by heathland, woods, meadows, lakes, and smaller towns. Hilversum lies 31 km (19 mi) south-east of Amsterdam and 19 km (12 mi) north of Utrecht.
Farming, raising sheep and some wool manufacturing were the means of life for the Gooi in the Middle Ages. In 1424, on 21 March at 6:30 am (the hour at which people got up, as the farm was full of restless and loud animals), Hilversum received its first official independent status. This made possible further growth in the village because permission from Naarden was no longer needed for new industrial development. The town grew further in the 17th century when the Dutch economy as a whole entered its age of prosperity, and several canals were built connecting it indirectly to Amsterdam.
In 1725 and 1766 large fires destroyed most of the town, leveling parts of the old townhouse and the church next to it. The town overcame these setbacks and the textile industry continued to develop, among other ways by devising a way to weave cows’ hair. In the 19th century a substantial textile and tapestry industry emerged, aided by a railway link to Amsterdam in 1874. From that time the town grew quickly with rich commuters from Amsterdam moving in, building themselves large villas in the wooded surroundings, and gradually starting to live in Hilversum permanently. Despite this growth, Hilversum was never granted city rights so it is still referred to by many locals as “het dorp,” or “the village.”
1903. Hilversum. Emmastraat
The city played host to many landscape artists during the 19th century, including Barend Cornelis Koekkoek. For the 1928 Summer Olympics in neighboring Amsterdam, it hosted all of the non-jumping equestrian and the running part of the modern pentathlon event.