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type of New Town:
> scale of autonomy
Context of it's foundation
In 1935 the goverment decided that Zoetermeer should become a 'groeikern' of The Hague. A groeikern is a Dutch word which means that Zoetermeer has become a city which will serve other big cities. For instance The Hague and Rotterdam. In reality it means that Zoetermeer will grow and will relieve The Hague.
The first growth spurts occurred during the second half of the 19th century as a result of industrialization. But this growth was almost nothing compared to the expansion Zoetermeer started to under go in the 1960's. In 1962 the national government decided to develop Zoetermeer. A projectteam is appointed by the goverment, this projectteam exsists of three urban engineers, Van Embden, Fedderus and Schut. At that moment a village with a population of 9000 was to be turned into a city with a population of 100,000.
In 1965 the projectteam presented a structural plan for the city of Zoetermeer. This concept was simple in its form with four different neigbourhouds around the centre of the city. The first structural works began in 1966 en thus the makeover from village to city had begun. Since that time, Zoetermeer has experienced rapid expansion. Not just in residential development but also in businesses related developments. It's no wonder, then, that the city's motto is "Zoetermeer: always on the growth". In less than 40 years, Zoetermeer's population has jumped from 9,000 to 115,000 while 2900 businesses provide almost 45,000 jobs.
The once small polder community is now a fully developed, multifaceted city. Attention is being devoted not only to further expansions but also to maintenance and modernization of the existing city. Zoetermeer has many points in its favor that will continue to attract residents and businesses in the future. Its strategic location in the middle of the Randstad provides excellent opportunities for making this happen.
Biography of the town
In the tenth century Zoetermeer already existed. At that moment it were only two small fishers villages called Soetermeer and Zegwaard. A few hundred years later the 'Dorpstraat' was already the centre of the village (1275-1300) In the year 1568 till 1648 the 80 year war was around the village of Soetermeer en Zegwaard. In this war the Spanjards were fighting against the Dutch. In the year 1614 the Dutch state gave permission to drain the lake near the village. This lake was called Zoetermeerse meer. After that also driemanspolder (1672) and the binnenwegsepolder (1701) were drained. In the golden century both the villages were growing due to economic growth. In the 18th and the 19th century Soetermeer and zegwaard became smaller and times were difficult. A significant date in the more recent history of Zoetermeer was the year 1935. It was then that the current Municipality of Zoetermeer was formed by the administrative amalgamation of the rural villages of Soetermeer and Zegwaard. Fortunately, several important features and points of interest from Zoetermeer's past have been preserved. In the old city centre, elevated drainage courses and historic buildings such as the Old Church with its tower dating back to 1642, farmsteads, manors, a water tower and a flourmill still remind us of days gone by.