Aalsmeer ( pronunciation ) is a municipality and a town in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland. Its name is derived from the Dutch for eel (aal) and lake (meer). Aalsmeer is bordered by the Westeinderplassen lake, the largest open water of the Randstad, and the Ringvaart Canal. The town is located 13 km (8 mi) southwest of Amsterdam.
The town is sometimes referred to as the flower capital of the world, as the largest flower auction in the world is based in Aalsmeer, along with numerous nurseries and an experimental stations for floriculture
The municipality of Aalsmeer consists of the following cities, towns, and villages: Aalsmeer, Kudelstaart, Oosteinde, as well as the hamlet Calslagen.
Aalsmeer is located on the border of the former Haarlem Lake. The older portion of town is built on peat, and is surrounded by polders. The polders consist of loamy soil and are 9–15 feet (2.7–4.6 m) below sea level.
Aalsmeer is first referenced in a document from 1133 in which it is called "Alsmar" and is granted to the Abbey of Rijnsburg. Diederik VII van Kleef confirmed this grant in an act in 1199. The area was then a wilderness with alders and willow forests.
In its surroundings, large tracts of land were dug up for peat, creating large lakes and ponds such as Oosteinderpoel (East End Pool), Schinkelpoel (Schinkel Pool), Stommeer (Stom Lake), Hornmeer (Horn Lake), Legmeer (Leg Lake), and the Westeinderplassen (West End Ponds). This left little land for agriculture, causing Aalsmeer's inhabitants to switch to fishery. The land was cultivated intensely, mostly for tree nurseries.
The lack of dry land was countered by reclaiming some of the lakes, starting with Stom Lake in 1650, and followed by Horn Lake in 1674. In 1852, the large Haarlem Lake, bordering on Aalsmeer, was made into a polder. Then followed Schinkelpoel, Oosteinderpoel, and Legmeer. Peat was no longer dug up and the fishing business declined. Yet horticulture increased, especially strawberry cultivation, which peaked between 1850 and 1885. The strawberry became the symbol for the flag of Aalsmeer: red (fruit), green (leaf), and black (soil). The cultivation of flowers began circa 1880, first with roses in greenhouses.
The growers would sell their strawberries and flowers to distributors who would bring them with barges to the market in Amsterdam. But the trade shifted to Aalsmeer where auctions began to be held in local cafés. In 1912 two auction businesses were established: Centrale Aalsmeerse Veiling (Central Aalsmeer Auction) in the town's centre and Bloemenlust in Aalsmeer East.
During World War 2, Aalsmeer gained a reputation for its Nazi support, mostly because of its fanatical National Socialistic mayor and a handful of fascist supporters. The highest supreme commander of the German Wehrmacht in the Netherlands, Friedrich Christiansen, was a regular visitor. Following the war, more than a hundred court cases were held against Nazi supporters from Aalsmeer.
In 1950 Aalsmeer had 12,500 inhabitants. In 1968 the two auction businesses merged and formed the Verenigde Bloemenveilingen Aalsmeer (United Flower Auctions Aalsmeer). In 1972 a new large auction building was completed in South Aalsmeer and expanded in 1999.
The municipal council of Aalsmeer consists of 23 seats, which since 2014 are divided as follows:Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) - 6 seats
People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) - 6 seats
Aalsmeerse Belangen (AB) - 6 seats
Progressieve Aalsmeerse Combinatie Tweeduizend Aalsmeer (PACT Aalsmeer) - 4 seats
Het Aalsmeers Collectief (HAC) - 1 seat
The executive board consists of CDA and AB.
The current mayor is Jobke Vonk-Vedder (CDA).
The bus interchange in Aalsmeer is called the Hortensiaplein, where the buses meet. These services are:140 - Uithoorn - Aalsmeer - Hoofddorp Station - Hoofddorp - Heemstede - Haarlem - Haarlem Station
171 - Aalsmeer - Bovenkerk - Amstelveen - Amsterdam Bijlmer ArenA Station
172 - Kudelstaart - Aalsmeer - Amstelveen - Amsterdam City Centre - Amsterdam Centraal
169 - Aalsmeer - Hoofddorp Station - Spaarne Ziekenhuis (Hoofddorp)
198 - Aalsmeer - Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (Schiphol Sternet)
N71 - Amsterdam Centraal - Amsterdam City Centre - Amstelveen - Bovenkerk - Aalsmeer - Kudelstaart (Nightbus)
All of these services are very frequent, half-hourly or more frequent.
Having 999,000 square metres (10,750,000 sq ft) of floor space, the flower auction building of FloraHolland is one of the largest commercial buildings in the world. Its close proximity to Schiphol Airport allows the growers access to markets worldwide. Since January 1, 2008 the Aalsmeer flower auction has merged with the united auctions of Naaldwijk and Rijnsburg under the name FloraHolland, and is the largest auction market in the world. The flowers that are grown and sold here are carnations, roses, lilacs, freesias, chrysanthemums, cyclamens, and begonias.
The Endemol television studios are located in the former Central Auction building. The Bloemenlust building is nowadays a sports, event, and congress centre. Dominating the Ringvaart canal are the large building halls of Royal De Vries Scheepsbouw.
Agriculture and manufacturing also play an important role in the economy of the locality. Dairy, beef, potatoes, vegetables, and fruit are the areas within agriculture, and the types of manufacturing in the city are farm products, sporting goods, boats, and packaging material.
Aalsmeer has always had a number of yearly recurring events and festivals. The most famous event has always been the Flower parade (Bloemencorso), every first Saturday in September. After 60 years, this tradition has been discontinued in 2007. Other annual events are the "Pramenrace", every second Saturday in September and the Bands Night (Bandjesavond) in June.
Aalsmeer has always had a rich music scene. The best known groups and artists from Aalsmeer and Kudelstaart since 1970 are:Eton Crop
Hobo String band
Livin' at A
Café Blue (later: Koel Bewaren)
Ten Beers After
Katelijne van Otterloo Group
Anton Roosjen (1894–1978), politician
Jacques van Tol (1897–1969), author
J. F. Berghoef (1903–1994), architect
IJke Buisma (1907–1994), high jumper
Ada van Keulen (1920–2010), resistance member
Jan de Pous (1920–1996), politician
Jan Bol (1924), professional sailor
Joop Borgman (1928–1999), politician
Jan Jongkind (1932), professional sailor
Piet Bon (1946), professional rower
Fred Borgman (1946–1996), politician
Theodore van Houten (1952–2016), author and journalist
Peter R. de Vries (1956), journalist, author and television presenter
Joost Hoffscholte (1942), politician
Marianne van Wijnkoop (1945), actress and casting director (Kudelstaart)
André van Duin (1947), comedian, musician and actor (Kudelstaart)
Bonnie St. Claire (1949), musician
Frans Mulder (1952), actor
Jan Leliveld (1956), musician
Gerard Joling (1960), musician and television presenter
Stefanie van Vliet (1967), politician
Pieter Litjens (1968), politician
Michael Buskermolen (1972), professional footballer (Kudelstaart)
Laidback Luke (1976), DJ and producer
Simon Bon (1904–1987), professional rower
Corry Vonk (1901–1988), comedian (Kudelstaart)
Wim Kan (1911–1983), comedian and musician (Kudelstaart)
Piet Steenkamp (1925–2016), politician
Ria Beckers (1938–2006), politician
Bob de Jong (1976), professional speed skater (Kudelstaart)