Holland, Michigan: 1945 - Present


The postwar period brought a rush of veterans to Hope College. Capitalizing on the GI Bill, enrollment jumped from 400 in 1945 to 1200 in 1947. Due to the rising student population, the college built several new buildings and residence halls to accommodate such a large enrollment.

Holland continued to thrive in the postwar period. The industry that had developed in the first part of the century continued.

Perhaps the most important event directly following World War II was Holland's Centennial Celebration. Events included exhibitions sent by the Dutch government, drama plays, barbershop singing, and the consumption of a gigantic cake decorated with a replica of the first log cabin. This same year, Queen Julianna of the Netherlands paid a visit to Holland. While here, she enjoyed music played by Ruth Keppel.

In 1965, De Zwaan Windmill, brought straight from the Netherlands, opened at Holland's Windmill Island. First erected in Krommenie, near Amsterdam, in 1761 and the last windmill to leave the Netherlands, the windmill continues to be fully operational and is one of the main tourist attractions, particularly during Tulip Time.

Despite the apparent Americanization of the city, Holland continues to be a more conservative, homogenous and religious community. As late as the 1950s, 90 percent of the population were of Dutch heritage. This would change with the influx of Hispanic and Southeast Asian immigrants who were able to come to Holland through the sponsorship of various churches.

The 1990s brought revitalization to downtown Holland with the restoration of the Amtrak Railroad Station, the conversion of the old Post Office into the Holland Museum, as well as the building of Freedom Village, a new Post Office, and Haworth Inn. The city continues to be a popular tourist destination and boasts several prestigious awards, including being one of the country's "Dozen Distinctive Destinations," a "Great American Mainstreet," and "All American City" from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

holland sign
  Contact: Madalyn Muncy  

Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Scholars Program in the Arts and Humanities, Hope College

Madalyn Muncy, 2012