- The rue Neuve is the main shopping street of the lower town. Extending 390 m (l,279 ft.), it runs between place de la Monnaie and place Rogier.Laid out in 1617, it was called rue Notre-Dame and served as a residential street for aristocrats and wealthy bourgeoisie, who built homes and gardens along the thoroughfare as space became scarce in the city center. Lawyers and higher civil servants arrived in the 18th century—Henri Van der Noot lived here. In the 1830s, the street ran only to rue de Malines. Hotels (du Rhin, de Saxe, de Wellington) catered, in particular, to the many English visitors who arrived to view the sights at Waterloo. The street was extended in 1841 following plans of Jean Vifquain to serve as a link to the newly completed Gare du Nord. It became the main north-south street in the city in connecting the Gare du Nord with the Gare du Midi and property values rose quickly. Its role as a transportation artery ensured the arrival of new hotels and commercial businesses. The first departaient store—J. N. Collard & Co.—was founded in 1856 and was followed by many others, including Cohn-Donnay, Vaxelaire, Hirsch, and Bernheim. L'Innovation department store is located near the middle of the street. In 1978, the shopping complex City 2 opened at the corner of boulevard du Jardin Botanique. The street remains today a center for retail trade.The rue Neuve was the first street to be serviced by trams, the first one-way street, the first to feature decorative holiday lighting, and the first major street in Brussels on which pedestrian-only traffic is permitted (1976).
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.
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