The people on this narrow strip of land struggled against the waters of the North Sea from the west, and the waters of the IJ and the Haarlem Lake from the east.
The town of Halfweg became a suburb, and Haarlem became a quiet bedroom community, and for this reason Haarlem still has many of its central medieval buildings intact.
The location of the village was a good one: by the river Spaarne, and by a major road going south to north.
By the 12th century it was a fortified town, and Haarlem became the residence of the Counts of Holland.
This allowed for a quicker and more efficient judiciary system, more suited to the needs of the growing city.
After a siege from the surrounding area of Kennemerland in 1270 a defensive wall was built around the city.