Hilversum (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɦɪlvərsʏm] ( listen)) is a municipality and a town 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 is part of the Randstad, one of the largest conurbations in Europe.
The town is often called "media city" since it is the principal centre for radio and television broadcasting in The Netherlands. Radio Netherlands, heard worldwide via shortwave radio since the 1920s, is also based here. Hilversum is home to an extensive complex of audio and television studios belonging to the national broadcast production company NOS (Nederlandse Omroep Stichting), as well as to the studios and offices of all the Dutch public broadcasting organisations and many commercial TV production companies. As a result many old AM radio sets in Europe had a Hilversum dial position marked on their tuning scales (along with Athlone, Kalundborg and others).
Hilversum has one public library, two swimming pools (Van Hellemond Sport and De Lieberg), a number of sporting halls and several shopping centers (such as Hilvertshof, De Gijsbrecht, Kerkelanden, Riebeeck Galerij and Seinhorst.) In the region, the city centre is called "het dorp", which means "the village".
Earthenware found in Hilversum gives its name to the Hilversum culture, which is an early- to mid-Bronze Age, or 800–1200 BCE material culture. Artifacts from this prehistoric civilization bear similarities to the Wessex Culture of southern Britain and may indicate that the first Hilversum residents emigrated from that area. The first brick settlements formed around 900, but it was not until 1305 that the first official mention of Hilversum ("Hilfersheem" from "Hilvertshem" meaning "houses between the hills") is found. At that point it was a part of Naarden, the oldest town in the Gooi area.
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."
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. The city was the headquarters of the German ground forces (Heer) in the Netherlands.
The Nederlandse Seintoestellen Fabriek (NSF) company established a professional transmitter and radio factory in Hilversum in the early 1920s, growing into the largest of its kind in the Netherlands, and in 1948 being taken over by Philips. By then the textile industry had started its decline; only one factory, Veneta, managed to continue into the 1960s, when it also had to close its doors. Another major industry, the chemical factory IFF, also closed by the end of the 1960s. In the meantime, almost all Dutch radio broadcasting organizations (followed by television broadcasters in the 1950s) established their headquarters in Hilversum and provided a source of continuing economic growth. The concentration of broadcasters in Hilversum has given it its enduring status as the media city for the Netherlands.
In 1964, the population reached a record high – over 103,000 people called Hilversum home. The current population hovers around 85,000. Several factors figure into the decline: one is the fact that the average family nowadays consists of fewer people, so fewer people live in each house; second, the town is virtually unable to expand because all the surrounding lands were sold by city architect W.M. Dudok to the Goois Natuurreservaat (nl). The third reason for this decline of the population was due to the fact that the property values were increasing rapidly in that moment of time, and many people were forced to move to less expensive areas in the Netherlands.
Some sources blame connections in the television world for attracting crime to Hilversum; the town has had to cope with mounting drug-related issues in a community with higher than average unemployment and ongoing housing shortage.
Hilversum was one of the first towns to have a local party of the populist movement called Leefbaar ("liveable"). Founded by former social-democrat party strongman Jan Nagel, it was initially held at bay for alderman positions. In 2001, Nagel from 'Leefbaar Hilversum' teamed up with 'Leefbaar Utrecht' leaders to found a national 'Leefbaar Nederland' party. By strange coincidence, in 2002 the most vocal 'Leefbaar Rotterdam' politician Pim Fortuyn was shot and killed by an animal rights activist at Hilversum Media Park just after finishing a radio interview. This happened, however, after a break between Fortuyn and Nagel during a Leefbaar Nederland board meeting in Hilversum on Fortuyn's anti-Islamic viewpoints.
The town of Hilversum has put a great deal of effort into improvements, including a recent renovation to its central train station, thorough renovation of the main shopping centre (Hilvertshof), and development of new dining and retail districts downtown including the "vintage" district in the Leeuwenstraat. Several notable architectural accomplishments include the Institute for Sound and Vision, and Zanderij Crailoo (nl), the largest man-made wildlife crossing in the world.
The population declined from 103,000 in 1964 to 84,000 in 2006.
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- The large Catholic neo-gothic St. Vitus church (P.J.H. Cuypers, 1892, belltower 96 metres).
- The city played host to many landscape artists during the 19th century, including Barend Cornelis Koekkoek.
Hilversum is well connected to the Dutch railway network, and contains three stations:
One can get the best connections from the station Hilversum, as this is an Intercity station.
The municipal council of Hilversum in 2010 consists of 37 seats, which are divided as followed:
- D66 – 8 seats
- VVD – 7 seats
- PvdA – 6 seats
- CDA – 3 seats
- SP – 3 seats
- GroenLinks – 3 seats
- Hart voor Hilversum – 3 seats
- ChristenUnie – 2 seats
- Leefbaar Hilversum – 2 seats
It was the first city with a "Leefbaar" party (which was intended as just a local party).
Notable people born in Hilversum:
- Joop den Uyl (1919–1987), prime minister
- Henk Hermsen (1937), water polo player
- Hubert van Es (1941-2009), war journalist
- John Gerretsen (1942), politician
- André Hermsen (1942), water polo player
- Evert Kroon (1946), water polo goalkeeper
- Dick Diamonde (1947), bassist
- Wim Hermsen (1947), water polo player
- Bartha Knoppers (1951), lawyer
- Erland Van Lidth de Jeude (1953–1987), actor, wrestler and opera singer
- Ton van Klooster (1954), freestyle swimmer and swimming coach
- Nico Landeweerd (1954), water polo player
- Andy Hoepelman (1955), water polo player
- John de Mol (1955), media tycoon
- Dick Nieuwenhuizen (1957), water polo player and coach
- Ellen Bontje (1958), equestrian
- Hansje Bunschoten (1958), swimmer and TV-presenter
- Arjen Anthony Lucassen (1960), musician and composer
- André Rouvoet (1962), politician
- Reggie de Jong (1964), freestyle swimmer
- Koos Issard (1971), water polo player
- Dave Luza (1974), Improv Comedian, Actor
- Kelly van der Veer (1980), Big Brother contestant, singer, famous transsexual
- Gijsbert Haan (1801-1874), founder of the Christian Reformed Church in America
- Geertje Wielema (1934–2009) swimmer & Olympic athlete
- John van Altena (1947) 107 caps Dutch National Rugby XV
- Henri van Booven (1877-1964) first chairman Dutch Rugby Bond in 1932 and cricket international
- Ton Scherpenzeel (1952), keyboardist and a founding member of the Dutch rock band Kayak.
- Pim Koopman (1953-2009), drummer and percussionist of the Dutch Progressive rock band, Kayak.
- Max Werner (1953), former lead singer, drummer and percussionist of the Dutch Progressive rock band Kayak
- "College van Burgemeester en Wethouders" [Board of mayor and aldermen] (in Dutch). Gemeente Hilversum. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
- "Kerncijfers wijken en buurten" [Key figures for neighbourhoods]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 2 July 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
- "AHN Postcode tool for 1217JE". Actueel Hoogtebestand Nederland (in Dutch). Het Waterschapshuis. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
- "Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand" [Population growth; regions per month]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 26 June 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
- "Hilversum: Overview - History". Iguide.travel. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
- 1928 Summer Olympics official report. pp. 271–8.
- "Beeld en Geluid". Experience.beeldengeluid.nl. Archived from the original on 5 May 2012.
- [dead link]
- Media related to Hilversum at Wikimedia Commons
- Hilversum travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Official website
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