Ilja van Damme - Hilde Greefs - Tim Soens
Antwerp is famous for becoming the northern hub of European trade around the turn of the sixteenth century. This international status went hand in hand with ambitious urban explansion plans, only some of which could be realized, and by around 1700 the city had contracted again inside its walls. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the port revived and industrialization brought renewed growth. New docks were built, the city centre was modernized, and the suburbs were integrated into the urban fabric. As before, however, the more ambitious plans, such as the construction of a whole new city on the left bank of the river, never got off the drawing board.
Using cartographic and visual historical material, this Historical Atlas of Antwerp provides a unique insight into ‘represented space’ as imagined by politicians, artist, planners and residents. With the help of innovative digital GIS analysis unsuspected connections and patterns of urban development are brought to light.
From the emergence of the ancient heart of the city, the Burcht (‘Fortress’), the reader is guided through its sixteenth-century heyday to the ever more rapid transformations of the post-war years. The construction of churches, quays and docks, trading houses, squares and urban mansions is presented in pithy narratives that say as much about how the city was intended to be constructed as about how it eventually turned out. Both are crucial to steering Antwerp’s further expansion in the twenty-first century.