The golden age
The fire and the long siege had taken their toll on the city. The Spanish left in 1577 and under the Agreement of Veere, Protestants and Catholics were given equal rights, though in government the Protestants clearly had the upper hand and Catholic possessions once seized were never returned. To restore the economy and attract workers for the brewing and bleaching businesses (Haarlem was known for these, thanks to the clean water from the dunes), the Haarlem council decided to promote the pursuit of arts and history, showing tolerance for diversity among religious beliefs. This attracted a large influx of Flemish and French immigrants (Catholics and Hugenots alike) who were fleeing the Spanish occupation of their own cities. Expansion plans soon replaced plans of rebuilding the destroyed city walls. Just like the rest of the country, the Golden Age in the United Provinces had started.
Linen and silk
The new citizens had a lot of expertise in linen and silk manufacture and trading, and the city’s population grew from 18,000 in 1573 to around 40,000 in 1622. At one point, in 1621, over 50% of the population was Flemish-born. Haarlem’s linen became notable and the city flourished. Today an impression of some of those original textile tradesmen can be had from the Book of Trades document created by Jan Luyken and his son.
In 1632 a tow canal between Haarlem and Amsterdam, the Haarlemmertrekvaart was opened, the first tow canal in the country. The empty areas in the city that were a result of the fire of 1576 were filled with new houses and buildings. Even outside the city wall buildings were constructed—in 1643 about 400 houses were counted outside the wall. Having buildings outside the city walls was not a desirable situation to the city administration. Not only because these buildings would be vulnerable in case of an attack on the city, but there was also less control over taxes and city regulations outside the walls. Therefore, a major project was initiated in 1671: expanding the city northwards. Two new canals were dug, and a new defensive wall was constructed (the current Staten en Prinsenbolwerk). Two old city gates, the Janspoort and Kruispoort, were demolished. The idea that a city had to be square-shaped was abandoned.
After the fall of Antwerp, many artists and craftsmen migrated to Haarlem and received commissions from the Haarlem council to decorate the city hall. The paintings commissioned were meant to show Haarlem’s glorious history as well as Haarlem’s glorious products. Haarlem’s cultural life prospered, with painters like Frans Hals and Jacob van Ruisdael, the architect Lieven de Key and Jan Steen who made many paintings in Haarlem. The Haarlem councilmen became quite creative in their propaganda promoting their city. On the Grote Markt, the central market square, there’s a statue of Laurens Janszoon Coster who is allegedly the inventor of the printing press. This is actually the second and larger statue to him on the square; the original stands behind the city hall in the little garden known as the Hortus (where today the Stedelijk Gymnasium school is located). Most scholars agree that the scarce evidence seems to point to Johann Gutenberg as the first European inventor of the printing press, but Haarlem children were taught about Lau as he is known, well into the 20th century. This legend served the printers of Haarlem well, however, and it is probably for that reason the most notable Dutch history books from the Dutch Golden Age period were published in Haarlem; by Hadrianus Junius (Batavia), Dirck Volkertszoon Coornhert (Works), Karel van Mander (Schilderboeck), Samuel Ampzing (Description and Ode to Haarlem), Petrus Scriverius (Batavia Illustrata), and Pieter Christiaenszoon Bor (Origin of the Dutch wars).
Beer brewing was a very important industry in Haarlem. Until the 16th century the water for the beer was taken from the canals in the city. These were, through the Spaarne and the IJ, connected to seawater. However, the water in the canals was getting more and more polluted, and no longer suitable for brewing beer. A place 1.5 km (0.9 mi) south-west of the city was then used to take fresh water in. However, the quality of that water was not good enough either. From the 17th century a canal (Santvaert) was used to transport water from the dunes to the city. The water was transported in barrels on ships. The location where the water was taken is called the Brouwerskolkje, and the canal to there still exists, and is now called the Brewers’ Canal (Brouwersvaart).
Haarlem was a major beer producer in the Netherlands. The majority of the beer it produced was consumed in Noord-Holland. During the Spanish siege there were about 50 brewing companies in the city; while 45 years later in 1620 the city numbered about one hundred breweries.
There was another epidemic of the Black Death in 1657, which took a heavy toll in the six months it ravaged the city. From the end of the 17th century the economic situation in the city turned sour, for a long time. In 1752 there were only seven beer breweries left, and in 1820 no breweries were registered in the city anymore. In the 1990s the Stichting Haarlems Biergenootschap revived some of the old recipes under the new Jopen beer brand, that is marketed as a “Haarlem bier”. In 2010 Jopen opened a brewery in a former church in central Haarlem called the Jopenkerk. In 2012 Haarlem gained a new local brewery with Uiltje Bar in the Zijlstraat, which specializes in craft beers.
From the 1630s until present day, Haarlem has been a major trading centre for tulips, and it was at the epicentre during tulip mania, when outrageous prices were paid for tulip bulbs. From the time that the Leiden-Haarlem canal Leidsevaart was opened in 1656, it became popular to travel from Rotterdam to Amsterdam by passenger boat rather than by coach. The canals were dug for passenger service only, and were comfortable though slow. The towpath led these passengers through the bulb fields south of Haarlem. Haarlem was an important stopover for passengers from the last half of the 17th century and through the 18th century until the building of the first rail tracks along the routes of former passenger canal systems. As Haarlem slowly expanded southwards, so did the bulb fields, and even today rail travelers between Rotterdam and Amsterdam will see beautifully blooming bulb fields on the stretch between Leiden and Haarlem in Spring.