Cureghem is a district of the Municipality of Anderlecht, located in the East of Anderlecht. It is separated from the other neighbourhoods of the municipality by the Charleroi Canal. The territory is subdivided into several sub-districts – Studs, City Albert I, Slaughterhouses, Leemens, Bara, Revision, and the Triangle.
Industrialisation and Urbanisation of Cureghem in the 19th Century
The construction of the Charleroi Canal in 1832 facilitated the supply of coal for the industrialisation of Brussels and attracted more industries to Cureghem as well as its neighbouring districts, like Molenbeek. By 1834, two woolen cloth factories, six cotton printing and dyeing factories, three spinning mills and cotton factories, and one candle factory were operating in Cureghem. Moreover, Cureghem had its own railway built in 1841, which facilitated the transport and movement of goods and people in the neighbourhood.
The establishment of a new town hall in Cureghem in 1875 by the Municipality of Anderlecht, the opening of the slaughterhouses in 1890 and the construction of the new veterinary school in 1903 further contributed to the urbanisation of the neighbourhood.
Decline and Revitalisation
Despite its economic and industrial growth between the 19th and mid 20th century, Cureghem suffered under the lack of government interest soon after World War II, leading to a socio-economic decline. In 1950, the automotive industry in Cureghem was booming, there were 525 factories and craft enterprises in the area. Nevertheless, misguided policies by Brussels officials and the geographic isolation of the community contributed to its rapid decline and marginalisation.
The Brussels-Capital Region granted the Municipality of Anderlecht its first Neighbourhood Contract in 1997, targeting the area around La Rosée in Cureghem. This represented the shift from policies that had demolished the industrial buildings and the overall social setting to revitalisation of the district of Cureghem.
The right to vote, granted to foreign residents at the municipal level in 2006, has encouraged elected officials to take the interests of certain immigrant communities into consideration.
Cureghem in 2020
Cureghem is characterised by an architectural heritage, reflecting the diversity and history of the area. In 2014, the percentage of immigrants in the neighbourhood was 25% of the overall population of Cureghem. The majority of the immigrants in Cureghem are from Africa, Eastern and Southern Europe. Cureghem is one of the most densely populated districts of Anderlecht and of the Brussels-Capital Region in general, covering an area of 2 km² or 194 hectares. 25,641 people were living in Cureghem in 2011.
Cureghem is now flourishing with shops, markets, and museums, while its diversity in terms oflanguages, cultures, and people defines Cureghem as a place of potential investment.
Despite its central location, it still has been a bit forgotten by city authorities as well as inhabitants in the last decades. Since the late 1990s, there is an effort to lower the social and spatial divide manifested in this area. Still, for many people Cureghem remains a white spot on their mental map of Brussels. Thats why we want to tell you a little bit about it!