ITEM METADATA RECORD
Title: Sights/Sites of splendor. Shopping landscapes in nineteenth-century Brussels
Authors: Arnout, Anneleen
Issue Date: 21-May-2015
Abstract: This book is about the history of the Brussels shopping landscape during the nineteenth century. Although the increasing commercialization of the nineteenth-century urban landscape has long been a topos in historiography, the entirety and diversity of shopping spaces has not yet been the object of thorough research. For decades, historians of retail and shopping have mostly been concerned with rsquo; forms of retail, such as the cooperation, the multiple and – especially – the department store, which, so it was argued, gave rise to the birth of a modern culture of leisurely shopping. These institutes were most often studied in isolation, rather than in relation to each other and to the broader context of less spectacular shopping spaces. When more recent research turned the focus to the resilience of more ‘traditional’ retail forms – such as the market, ambulant trade and the small shop – scholars have been especially interested in the conflict between tradition and modernity. Again, only rarely did historians include more than two commercial circuits into their scope.
Although historians have tended to single out specific shopping sites, this isolation was nevertheless not a characteristic of historic reality. Markets, market halls, shops, department stores, arcades, auction houses, bazaars, branches of multiples and co-ops shared customers, streets and pavements with each other. Therefore, this book takes the shopping landscape as its object of study, with Brussels as its case-study. The history of shopping and shopping culture in the nineteenth-century city is re-evaluated from a spatial perspective. This reevaluation aims to engage with findings in research on early-modern retailing and shopping. Whereas historians studying the nineteenth century have long claimed the century’s modernity, scholars studying the early-modern period have demonstrated that many so-called rsquo; shopping- and business practices dated from before the nineteenth century and its department stores. Turning away from the traditional quest for modernity, this study searches for elements of continuity and discontinuity in both the shopping landscape and the culture of shopping that was engrained in it throughout the nineteenth century. It demonstrates the necessity of understanding the variety of shopping places in relation to one another, and the added value of tracing evolutions in shopping by examining the shopping scene as a whole.
This dissertation scrutinizes the development of the shopping landscape in nineteenth-century Brussels. It examines the different types of sites for shopping and their relation to each other and the evolving shopping culture throughout the century. The central question of this research centers on how these developments translated qualitatively in a shopping culture.
In this dissertation it is argued that the heart of the Brussels shopping landscape densified intensively throughout the nineteenth century. Never were there more shops in the center of Brussels than during the beginning of the twentieth century. Rather than revolutionary new types of shopping sites, the century of ‘modernity’ brought Brussels a growing variety in the number of sites for shopping. Shopping in these sites increasingly and pre-eminently became an activity for pedestrians. Shopping and strolling in the city center molded into one activity. Window-shopping turned into an independent and indispensable part of rsquo;. Shopkeepers capitalized upon that fact by increasing the size of shop windows and creating spectacular designs and displays. The surroundings of the street too were increasingly fitted out to facilitate the practice of shopping for leisure. Sidewalks were constructed and possible obstructions were banned from the streets, including rsquo; commercial practices, such as street markets, displays of itinerant traders and so on. As such, the development of the shopping landscape was reflective of the ambitions of the bourgeois liberal city council for a ‘modern city’, and it added to the realization of these ambitions as well. The evolutions in shopping were indeed strongly intertwined with the council’s projects of beautification, sanitization and rationalization, while equally demonstrating the limitations of the council’s policy.
This book demonstrates that shopping cultures (and –subcultures) were linked to the type of goods on sale and the locations in the city rather than to the type of retail oulet. The growing array of ‘sites for shopping’ contributed to the evolution in the Brussels shopping culture. Although no traces could be found of a retail or shopping revolution, the practices and contours of shopping in Brussels did evolve as the nineteenth century progressed. This book demonstrates that the development of the shopping landscape and its culture presented a complex process that ran back and forth, now coincidentally and then in a more orchestrated manner past the newer and older places of the nineteenth century. The eye-catching institutions – including arcades, market halls, auction houses and department stores – took on the role of a catalyst agent in a dynamic shopping landscape. These new sites for shopping and the broader shopping landscape they were engrained in were characterized by a search for splendor – even if that search did not always lead to the desired results. nbsp;
This book is about the history of the Brussels shopping landscape during the nineteenth century. Although the increasing commercialization of the nineteenth-century urban landscape has long been a topos in historiography, the entirety and diversity of shopping spaces has not yet been the object of thorough research. For decades, historians of retail and shopping have mostly been concerned with rsquo; forms of retail, such as the cooperation, the multiple and – especially – the department store, which, so it was argued, gave rise to the birth of a modern culture of leisurely shopping. These institutes were most often studied in isolation, rather than in relation to each other and to the broader context of less spectacular shopping spaces. When more recent research turned the focus to the resilience of more rsquo; retail forms – such as the market, ambulant trade and the small shop – scholars have been especially interested in the conflict between tradition and modernity. Again, only rarely did historians include more than two commercial circuits into their scope.
Although historians have tended to single out specific shopping sites, this isolation was nevertheless not a characteristic of historic reality. Markets, market halls, shops, department stores, arcades, auction houses, bazaars, branches of multiples and co-ops shared customers, streets and pavements with each other. Therefore, this book takes the shopping landscape as its object of study, with Brussels as its case-study. The history of shopping and shopping culture in the nineteenth-century city is re-evaluated from a spatial perspective. This reevaluation aims to engage with findings in research on early-modern retailing and shopping. Whereas historians studying the nineteenth century have long claimed the century’s modernity, scholars studying the early-modern period have demonstrated that many so-called ‘modern’ shopping- and business practices dated from before the nineteenth century and its department stores. Turning away from the traditional quest for modernity, this study searches for elements of continuity and discontinuity in both the shopping landscape and the culture of shopping that was engrained in it throughout the nineteenth century. It demonstrates the necessity of understanding the variety of shopping places in relation to one another, and the added value of tracing evolutions in shopping by examining the shopping scene as a whole.
This dissertation scrutinizes the development of the shopping landscape in nineteenth-century Brussels. It examines the different types of sites for shopping and their relation to each other and the evolving shopping culture throughout the century. The central question of this research centers on how these developments translated qualitatively in a shopping culture.
In this dissertation it is argued that the heart of the Brussels shopping landscape densified intensively throughout the nineteenth century. Never were there more shops in the center of Brussels than during the beginning of the twentieth century. Rather than revolutionary new types of shopping sites, the century of rsquo; brought Brussels a growing variety in the number of sites for shopping. Shopping in these sites increasingly and pre-eminently became an activity for pedestrians. Shopping and strolling in the city center molded into one activity. Window-shopping turned into an independent and indispensable part of ‘shopping’. Shopkeepers capitalized upon that fact by increasing the size of shop windows and creating spectacular designs and displays. The surroundings of the street too were increasingly fitted out to facilitate the practice of shopping for leisure. Sidewalks were constructed and possible obstructions were banned from the streets, including rsquo; commercial practices, such as street markets, displays of itinerant traders and so on. As such, the development of the shopping landscape was reflective of the ambitions of the bourgeois liberal city council for a ‘modern city’, and it added to the realization of these ambitions as well. The evolutions in shopping were indeed strongly intertwined with the council’s projects of beautification, sanitization and rationalization, while equally demonstrating the limitations of the council’s policy.
This book demonstrates that shopping cultures (and –subcultures) were linked to the type of goods on sale and the locations in the city rather than to the type of retail oulet. The growing array of ‘sites for shopping’ contributed to the evolution in the Brussels shopping culture. Although no traces could be found of a retail or shopping revolution, the practices and contours of shopping in Brussels did evolve as the nineteenth century progressed. This book demonstrates that the development of the shopping landscape and its culture presented a complex process that ran back and forth, now coincidentally and then in a more orchestrated manner past the newer and older places of the nineteenth century. The eye-catching institutions – including arcades, market halls, auction houses and department stores – took on the role of a catalyst agent in a dynamic shopping landscape. These new sites for shopping and the broader shopping landscape they were engrained in were characterized by a search for splendor – even if that search did not always lead to the desired results. nbsp;

This book is about the history of the Brussels shopping landscape during the nineteenth century. Although the increasing commercialization of the nineteenth-century urban landscape has long been a topos in historiography, the entirety and diversity of shopping spaces has not yet been the object of thorough research. For decades, historians of retail and shopping have mostly been concerned withlsquo;modern’ forms of retail, such as the cooperation, the multiple and – especially – the department store, which, so it was argued, gave rise to the birth of a modern culture of leisurely shopping. These institutes were most often studied in isolation, rather than in relation to each other and to the broader context of less spectacular shopping spaces. When more recent research turned the focus to the resilience of more ‘traditional’ retail forms – such as the market, ambulant trade and the small shop – scholars have been especially interested in the conflict between tradition and modernity. Again, only rarely did historians include more than two commercial circuits into their scope.
Although historians have tended to single out specific shopping sites, this isolation was nevertheless not a characteristic of historic reality. Markets, market halls, shops, department stores, arcades, auction houses, bazaars, branches of multiples and co-ops shared customers, streets and pavements with each other. Therefore, this book takes the shopping landscape as its object of study, with Brussels as its case-study. The history of shopping and shopping culture in the nineteenth-century city is re-evaluated from a spatial perspective. This reevaluation aims to engage with findings in research on early-modern retailing and shopping. Whereas historians studying the nineteenth century have long claimed the century’s modernity, scholars studying the early-modern period have demonstrated that many so-called ‘modern’ shopping- and business practices dated from before the nineteenth century and its department stores. Turning away from the traditional quest for modernity, this study searches for elements of continuity and discontinuity in both the shopping landscape and the culture of shopping that was engrained in it throughout the nineteenth century. It demonstrates the necessity of understanding the variety of shopping places in relation to one another, and the added value of tracing evolutions in shopping by examining the shopping scene as a whole.
This dissertation scrutinizes the development of the shopping landscape in nineteenth-century Brussels. It examines the different types of sites for shopping and their relation to each other and the evolving shopping culture throughout the century. The central question of this research centers on how these developments translated qualitatively in a shopping culture.
In this dissertation it is argued that the heart of the Brussels shopping landscape densified intensively throughout the nineteenth century. Never were there more shops in the center of Brussels than during the beginning of the twentieth century. Rather than revolutionary new types of shopping sites, the century of rsquo; brought Brussels a growing variety in the number of sites for shopping. Shopping in these sites increasingly and pre-eminently became an activity for pedestrians. Shopping and strolling in the city center molded into one activity. Window-shopping turned into an independent and indispensable part of rsquo;. Shopkeepers capitalized upon that fact by increasing the size of shop windows and creating spectacular designs and displays. The surroundings of the street too were increasingly fitted out to facilitate the practice of shopping for leisure. Sidewalks were constructed and possible obstructions were banned from the streets, including ‘unsuitable’ commercial practices, such as street markets, displays of itinerant traders and so on. As such, the development of the shopping landscape was reflective of the ambitions of the bourgeois liberal city council for a ‘modern city’, and it added to the realization of these ambitions as well. The evolutions in shopping were indeed strongly intertwined with the council’s projects of beautification, sanitization and rationalization, while equally demonstrating the limitations of the council’s policy.
This book demonstrates that shopping cultures (and –subcultures) were linked to the type of goods on sale and the locations in the city rather than to the type of retail oulet. The growing array of ‘sites for shopping’ contributed to the evolution in the Brussels shopping culture. Although no traces could be found of a retail or shopping revolution, the practices and contours of shopping in Brussels did evolve as the nineteenth century progressed. This book demonstrates that the development of the shopping landscape and its culture presented a complex process that ran back and forth, now coincidentally and then in a more orchestrated manner past the newer and older places of the nineteenth century. The eye-catching institutions – including arcades, market halls, auction houses and department stores – took on the role of a catalyst agent in a dynamic shopping landscape. These new sites for shopping and the broader shopping landscape they were engrained in were characterized by a search for splendor – even if that search did not always lead to the desired results.
nbsp;
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: TH
Appears in Collections:Cultural History since 1750, Leuven

Files in This Item:
File Status SizeFormat
Proefschrift Arnout.pdf Published 80807KbAdobe PDFView/Open Request a copy

These files are only available to some KU Leuven Association staff members

 




All items in Lirias are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved.