Together with ‘t Zuid, the neighbourhood around the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Zurenborg is unique in Antwerp in that it is among the few areas in the city developed according to an urban plan in the late 19th century. The new neighbourhood reflected Antwerp’s growing wealth, linked to growing port and trade activities, well.
The northern – largest – area of Zurenborg, centered around Dageraadplaats (Aurora Square), was mainly developed for the middle class, while the southern area, around Cogels-Osylei, was mainly targeted to the well to do.
The most eastern corner, which currently includes a bus yard of De Lijn and a power transfer station, was more devoted to industries and logistics, including a gas factory and a terminus station of a regional tram system. Engetrim, a development and construction company, had the lead in developing Zurenborg. Before, Zurenborg was an agricultural area dominated by an estate belonging to the Osy family.
After World War II, there were plans to just start over and to build high rise offices. Fortunately that didn’t happen.
Nowadays Zurenborg has the reputation of being the fiefdom of middle class, highly educated leftist people. In Flemish they’re called salonsocialisten or parlour socialists. In French the term gauche caviar or caviar left is sometimes used. It’s not a flattering term. Detractors use it for people who say they are progressive and very much in touch with equality of opportunities and green issues; but they also love their comfort and travelling far by plane.
The symbol for them is the bakfiets or cargo bike used to transport groceries and children.
Zurenborg is very popular for its bars, restaurants and terrasjes, outside seating.