Grote Markt (Haarlem) — Large Grote Markt, with its flanks of restaurants and cafés and a clutch of historical buildings, is a good place to start an exploration of Haarlem (the capital of the province of North Holland – located just 20 km west of Amsterdam). In the center of the square stands the 17th-century Vleeshal, a former meat market, and the Verweyhal, an old fish market; both serve as modern art annexes of the Frans Hals Museum.
For those who are curious, it’s no accident that one of New York City’s neighborhoods (Harlem) is derived from this Dutch town. In 1658, Peter Stuyvesant, the Director-General of the Dutch colony of Nieuw Nederland (New Netherland), founded the settlement of Nieuw Haarlem in the northern part of Manhattan Island as an outpost of Nieuw Amsterdam (New Amsterdam) at the southern tip of the island. After the English capture of New Netherland in 1664, the new English colonial administration renamed both the colony and its principal city “New York,” but left the name of Haarlem more or less unchanged. The spelling changed to Harlem in keeping with contemporary English usage. Nowadays, that area is one of New York’s major African-American communities.