- Besme, Victor-Jean-Constant
- (1834-1904)Born in Brussels on 5 February 1834, Victor Besme began his professional career with the railroads. In 1854, he took the examination for the post of highways inspector for the Brussels suburbs, and he was assigned to the position on 28 July 1858 by the Brabant provincial council.In 1862, Besme presented to the provincial governor a "General Plan for the Extension and Embellishment of the City and Suburbs of Brussels." Published in 1863, the proposal sought to meet growing demands, propounded most prominently by the duke of Brabant, the future king Leopold II, for orderly and aesthetically pleasing urban development in the wake of continuing expansion beyond the inner ring road. Besme chose the church at Laeken, then nearing completion, as the point of departure for a 27-kilometer long series of boulevards encompassing the nearby suburbs of Schaerbeek, Saint-Gilles, Ixelles, and Saint-Josse-ten-Noode. The creation of this belt of boulevards during the second half of the 19th century was largely the work of Besme. The boulevards Militaire, Louis Schmidt, Brand Whitlock, Saint-Michel, Reyes, Wahis, Lambermont, and Smet de Naeyer were completed between 1888 and 1910. In 1875, he drafted a plan for development of Saint-Gilles, including the vast public park of Saint-Gilles-Forest, which was finished in 1881. Consulted regularly by Leopold I n the work of urban development, Besme was appointed inspector-general of the public roads for the suburbs toward the end of his career in the 1890s in recognition of his achievements.His career as an engineer was paralleled by that of architect. He drafted plans for a number of public buildings, including schools in Molenbeek and Laeken, the national firing range of the Ministry of War, and the church and presbytery at Saint-Gilles. Besme died in Saint-Gilles on 7 February 1904.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.