The production of a political urban space. Antwerp city council and the construction and development of the Leopoldlei and its neighbourhood, 1857-1876
Faculty of Arts. History
University of Antwerp
This paper examines nineteenth-century urban space from a political perspective. Local governments, institutions, and organisations used and produced (im)material urban spaces to express, legitimate, and expand their ideologies and power. In the nineteenth century new trends in urban planning enabled municipal authorities to claim the urban landscape in an even more visible and penetrating way. Although this urban space was the result of negotiations between multiple political actors, historical research usually interprets nineteenth-century urbanism in the light of a liberal idea of progress and romantic-nationalistic sentiments. By focusing on the development of a specific neighbourhood through streets, street names, and statues, this research scrutinizes how liberal as well as Catholic municipalities and interest groups contributed to the symbolic, aesthetic, and practical politicisation of the material landscape and how differently or similarly subsequent city councils integrated this space in their policies.