The restaurant 'la Bruxelloise' had as one of his best clients my father. He used to go there once a week - there was always a table for them. They moved to Phillipeville, wonder if they reopened the one at la ville basse. I don't miss this city actually... I will probably go to my mother's grave on tuesday, as I land to Brussels' south (pfff) and my mother is buried in Gosselies, about 10 min from the airport.
I have to say after looking at this latest installment that Charleroi looks as though it might make a comeback, that in the right set of circumstances it could be "discovered" for low-impact manufacturing and the arts. That would be nice.
There is much lamenting in the UK of a similar decline in the "high streets" of many an old industrial town, where the combined impact of the loss of industry, internet shopping, big-box stores and purpose-built shopping centres is squeezing out old-style small businesses, leaving just temporary bargain shops, betting shops and the like. Not many places seem to find a viable new concept.
Huge swathes of the US look just as you describe, Patrick. For a while in the 80s city fathers were spending gobs of money on putting in brick sidewalks, fake gas lighting and other "olde" touches to turn those areas into places where theoretically people would flood in to dine and shop. There was one such commercial venture in Baton Rouge that managed to go belly up in @a year and a half. Later the Federal gov't. stepped in but ultimately failed to save it. That's a pretty typical story, where it was proved that a deserted shopping area couldn't be revitalized by putting in cutesy expensive stores and restaurants -- things that don't thrive in the vacuum of no jobs and no reason to live in an area. As you point out and as Bjd said,