Holland is a coastal city in the western region of the Lower Peninsula of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is situated near the eastern shore of Lake Michigan on Lake Macatawa, which is fed by the Macatawa River (formerly known locally as the Black River).
The city is the largest municipality of the Holland-Grand Haven Metropolitan Statistical Area and the seventh largest metro area in the state of Michigan, with a population of 264,910 as of the 2010 census. Holland was founded by Dutch Americans, and is in an area that has a large percentage of citizens of Dutch American heritage.
Holland was settled in 1847 by Dutch Calvinist separatists, under the leadership of Dr. Albertus van Raalte. Dire economic conditions in the Netherlands impelled them to emigrate, while their desire for religious freedom led them to unite and settle together as a group.
Van Raalte and his colony settled on land in the midst of the Ottowa people's Old Wing Mission Colony near the Black River where it streamed to Black Lake (now Lake Macatawa) which, in turn, led to Lake Michigan. Joint occupation by the two communities was not a marriage made in heaven. Eventually, the Dutch settlers purchased the land from the natives, who moved north in an effort to preserve their way of life and culture.
In Holland's early history, Van Raalte was a spiritual leader, as well as overseeing political, educational and financial matters. In 1847 Van Raalte established a congregation of the Reformed Church in America, which would later be called the First Reformed Church of Holland. On March 25, 1867, Holland was incorporated as a city with Isaac Cappon being the city's first mayor. The city suffered a major fire on October 8–9, 1871, the same time as the Great Chicago Fire in Illinois and the very deadly Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin. Because of the Great Michigan Fire (which included the Port Huron Fire of 1871), Manistee and Port Huron, Michigan also burned at the same time.