- A commune within the Brussels Capital Region located southeast of the city, Schaerbeek derives its name from the stream that flows south to north and empties into the Senne River that is today vaulted over and which was known in the Middle Ages as the Maelbeek. The name signifies "stream in the forest." It is first mentioned in an act of 1120. Schaerbeek was nicknamed the "village of donkeys" and the road linking the porte de Schaerbeek and the church of Saint-Servais was labelled the "donkey's road" (Ezelweg) because of the many pack animals that traversed the route through the community carrying fruits, vegetables, and grains into the city. It was established as an independent commune in 1795. The demolition of the second town wall (1818), construction of the railway line to Mechelen (1835), and abolition of tolls (1860) led to gradual development. Urbanization was also promoted in 1824 when, under plans drafted by Jean Vifquain, the rue Royale was extended to Schaerbeek and, later, to the Château royal de Laeken. In 1865, it became the first commune after Brussels to build a covered market. The commune ceded a tiny parcel of land to Brussels in 1897 to facilitate construction of the Port of Brussels. Many immigrants, notably Turks, have settled in Schaerbeek in recent decades.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.