The poorest part of town

by Lorenzo Piccoli

Use-it, which provided me the means to go around Brussels since my arrival here last summer, is an admirable example of what can be plainly defined a very good idea. It would deserve another post. For now, I will simply share with you the description of the square where I live, as I just realized it was also part of the map:

The roar of cars makes it hard to imagine, but not so long ago, this was the peaceful village square of Sint-Joost-ten-Node, a little town just outside the city walls. It was in this village that all the rich Brusseleirs had their holiday houses and came to hunt. Right now, Sint-Joost is the poorest municipality of Belgium (average income: €7.954, average income of Belgium €15.535), and it has the highest percentage of people without a job (34%). But it’s also the town where people from 153 different countries live, as you see from the colourful shops, bars, and restaurants around the square of this densest and smallest (1km²!) of Brussels’ 19 towns. When you take the Pacificatierstraat / Rue de la Pacification, pay close attention to the houses. Suddanly the crazy mix of languages, colours and shapes disappears, and you’re in a street where all the houses look pretty and the streets are clean and empty.