The impacts of annexation on the daily life of the inhabitants
The Law of 30th March 1921, which officially established the annexation of Laeken, Haren and Neder-Over-Heembeek to the City of Brussels, had a significant impact on the daily life of the inhabitants of the three former municipalities.
In addition to the abolition of the town halls and the restructuring of police divisions, administrative services for the citizens of these suburbs were moved to the heart of the Capital. As a result of this centralisation, they now had to take long and frequent journeys to obtain information and certain documents.
Numerous changes were also made to the organisation of public life: fewer refuse collections, raised municipal taxes, relocation of local officials to the offices of the King's House, requisitions of police officers to Brussels' city centre without increasing the workforce accordingly, etc.
Despite political efforts to promote the expansion of Brussels and the creation of liaison offices to facilitate the transition period, discontent was palpable among the local population, as evidenced by the quick poll carried out by La Dernière Heure (French language daily newspaper) in the streets of Laeken on 13th September 1921. Asked about the annexation of their territory, the residents did not hide their disappointment at a decision that had been made "without a referendum and through parliamentary scheming".
In Haren and Neder-Over-Heembeek, the predominantly rural landscape which made it possible to supply part of Brussels with fresh products and offer holiday resorts for the inhabitants of the city centre was also affected by the construction works carried out as part of the development of the canal area. The rapid development of the resulting industrialisation ultimately led to the gradual disappearance of pleasure gardens, sailing boats and guingettes which had previously animated the banks of the canal.
Another major upheaval for the inhabitants of the former communes was the rapid change of (almost half) their street names, decided in 1922 by the Board of Mayor and Alderman of the City of Brussels in order to avoid duplicate street names within the Capital.