Actually, thinking back to the 1889 World's Fair in Paris and the Eiffel Tower, iron was definitely considered to be one of the most important elements of the modern world for a very long time. The fact that Brussels chose iron as the prime symbol again almost 70 years later proves how incredibly important iron has been to our world over the years.
I suppose I could add this to my other thread A bit of Brussels which is already 4 years old, but times change so it's probably best to start all over in a different year.
I agree that was a wise decision, as Brussels seems to really bustle in building, changing, and renovating.
I'm fascinated by those old roof lines, and noticed that the gleaming modern building in the picture just before the fancy tattoo parlor pays homage to the old roofs.
What is the standard of living in Brussels and the surrounding area? As pointed out, restaurant food is expensive. From the pictures, it would seem the populace is out eating and drinking all the time.
Edited because we simul-posted -- just as well, as I forgot to comment on the wonderful site of the 1958 fair. Agree that the design concept is excellent.
It is actually incredible that "the Atom' still looks like it was built yesterday. All praise to Belgium for looking after the structure so admirably. Even 59 years on it is definitely a survivor of so many things that are thought marvelous at the time, then in no time at all have fizzled out.
And Brussels is much smaller than Paris... K2, have you ever taken the Kusttram? I took it for much of the way, but not all. It goes practically from the Dutch border to the French one. Not very exciting along the sea, but I enjoyed it.
Whatagain, I'm sure your sad memories are at least a part of your dislike, though the immediate postwar period did see a lot of clunky building and above all rebuilding.
What neighbourhood were you staying in? When I was there for a while I was staying with friends in Forest|Vorst. Like many areas in Brussels, it is extremely varied in terms of architecture and population. There is a very sad, very poor-looking area along a railway line, and not far at all, an elegant neighbourhood uphill with very posh dwellings. My friends live in an in-between zone where there are all sorts of people, native Belgians, older and more recent immigrants, students etc. One of my friends is a Belgian whose parents are from Spain; he speaks Spanish as well as French and Flemish. Like Montréal, it is quirky and lacks the architectural harmony of either Paris or Amsterdam.
In terms of supermarkets nearby, there was only an Aldi or a Lidl; I forget which. I'd never been to one before, this was back in 2003. There were astonishing bargains on some very good items, and some odd Frankenfood; but many essentials were missing. Fortunately there were also some greengrocers and "ethnic" shops; Maghrebi, Southeast Asian, Congolese...
The views from up in the Atomium are great and I really liked how you lined up the spheres with the views. I am shocked by the psychedelic escalator, which seems dangerous even for people wearing bifocals. It's kind of cool and endearing how Brussels has embraced its giant vintage Coke sign. I love your "photochrome postcards" at the end of this excellent report.
Well, actually, there is no avenue Pierre Brossolette in Paris. There is a very short rue Pierre Brossolette in the 5th arrondissement but it does not have 54 numbers. However, the suburbs of Paris have countless Pierre Brossolette streets, and I assume that the photo is from one of those suburbs. 20 years ago, I could have found streets that looked like that in Paris, but now I am not so sure.
Edited to say: photo identified -- that is the city of Malakoff.
To add to what Kerouac says, the city of Paris requires buildings to be renovated before they get to that condition. The building where we had an apartment in Paris looked nowhere nearly that bad (no peeling paint) but the city ordered a renovation of the facade.
This was such a wonderful photo portrayal of the city! I will be traveling there for the first time in April 2018 and have been looking everywhere for interesting information through the eyes of a fellow traveler or a local. This makes me even more excited to be stopping by Brussels next year. Thank you!