"A butcher at everyone's fingertips". Urban (de)regulation and butcher settlement patterns in Brussels, 1816-1866

Activiteit: Talk or presentation at a conference


On 9 June 1847, the Brussels meat market was transformed. Abandoning centuries of sales restricted to municipal meat halls in the city centre, the municipal council decided to allow meat sales from butchers’ homes. The intended goal of this deregulation was very clear: luring new butchers to settle in the city in a dispersed manner, thereby spreading meat retail across the city. This paper seeks to assess the degree to which this attempt was successful in spatially reshaping butchers’ locational patterns. Using addresses derived from professional tax records in a Geographical Information System (GIS) analysis, it explores Brussels butcher settlement patterns in the first half of the nineteenth century. While twenty years after the spatial deregulation a dispersed butcher settlement landscape had emerged, spatial deregulation is shown to have been much less a cause than a catalyst. From the early nineteenth-century onwards the traditional cluster of butchers in the city centre had been disappearing in favour of a more dispersed settlement pattern, an evolution which can only partly be explained by demand- and supply-side factors. The 1847 spatial deregulation, rather than creating new settlement patterns out of thin air, concluded a process of changing supply and demand infrastructure, population shifts and rental values which had been going on for five decades, decades in which modern settlement patterns had been slowly taking shape.
Periode21 mei 2021
EvenementstitelN.W. Posthumus Institute Conference 2021: Epidemics and Social Inequality
LocatieAntwerp, Belgium
Mate van erkenningInternational