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100 years of fusion of Brussels, Laeken, Neder-Over-Heembeek and Haren

One hundred years ago, Brussels, Laeken, Neder-Over-Heembeek and Haren merged to form the current City of Brussels, with the Willebroek Canal as the unifying element. Throughout 2021, the event 1921-2021: 100 years in ups and downs will celebrate this anniversary with a lot of culture, folklore and solidarity.

Many activities take place in collaboration with associations and local cultural centres and in compliance with health regulations: walks, exhibitions, a folklore event,... More info:

The Willebroek Canal was dug between 1550 and 1561. It was 2 meters deep, 30 meters wide and 28 kilometers long. Because the Senne no longer proved to be sufficient for the expansion of Brussels, this artificial waterway was constructed for intensive inland navigation to the Scheldt and the sea.

In the centuries that followed, river traffic became very important and inland vessels soon proved too large for the existing infrastructures. In 1830, a second canal was completed and on 12 November 1922, an important new infrastructure the size of a seaport was put into use in the northern part of the Pentagon.

After the liberation, the three traditional Brussels parties formulated new proposals for the extension of the territory of the city. On 30 March 1921, a law was published to enlarge the city with a view to expanding the shipping facilities.

Another argument was also in favor of the enlargement of the territory. A few months earlier, on 24 April 1921, the municipal elections had been held, with universal suffrage and with the right to vote for women. The new law created a lot of uncertainty in the higher circles of Brussels and Laeken, the residence of the King. By merging Brussels and Laeken with the still rural municipalities of Neder-Over-Heembeek and Haren, they hoped to correct the composition of the electorate of the new entity. The timing was perfect. The law was voted and the expansion of the territory of the current City was a fact.

In the following video, historian Roel Jacobs tells about the centennial history of the City of Brussels (in French and Dutch, with subtitles in French and Dutch):

A culture and heritage trail along the quays and banks of the Willebroek Canal will literally connect Brussels, Neder-Over-Heembeek, Laeken and Haren. Among other things, there will be four monumental murals, in collaboration with the Street Art Parcours of the City of Brussels.

Artist SOAZ (of La Belle Hip-Hop) talks about this first mural in the following video (spoken in French and with subtitles in French and Dutch):

For the 100th anniversary of the fusion, a special beer from the City of Brussels is being brewed. The recipe was developed in consultation with four residents, each from one of the 4 parts of the City of Brussels. Together they chose the right flavors and ingredients that will characterize this unique drink. The aromas of four flowers have been selected: poppy, chamomile, marigold and meadowsweet.

Aromas beer City of Brussels

Aromas beer City of Brussels

Production beer City of Brussels

Beer bottles

The Archives Service of the City of Brussels has taken on the task of making an inventory of the archives of the three annexed municipalities, with a view to establishing a Guide to sources relating to Laeken, Haren and Neder-Over-Heembeek before 1921. Short publications will make the project's progress known:

Created on 08/04/2021 (modified on 31/08/2021)

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