Exploring the history of Esch

Guide historique et architectural Esch-sur-Alzette

On 9 October 2020, the C²DH, capybarabooks and the Esch-sur-Alzette town council presented the Guide historique et architectural Esch-sur-Alzette at the Infofabrik in Esch. In this 480-page guide, Georges Buchler, Jean Goedert, Antoinette Lorang, Antoinette Reuter and Denis Scuto look back at the development of the “iron metropolis” through the prism of 140 places or buildings that have shaped the town’s history.

The idea for the guide first emerged in 2014, inspired by a book that had been published about the town of Beaune in France. The authors immediately began their research, working on the basis of several guiding principles. In the book, they describe the historical context of each site and building, reflecting not only on aspects related to the history of art, architecture and urban planning but also on how they fit into the area’s social and industrial history. Houses and shops, administrative, political, industrial, religious and cultural buildings, cemeteries, parks and gardens are analysed with concise texts and illustrated with historical images and contemporary photos by Christof Weber. The guide is divided into periods, from the early 19th century, when Esch-sur-Alzette was barely more than a rural village, through the golden age of the industrial town between 1945 and 1984, to the crisis and the urban revival of the past 30 years.

©University of Luxembourg. Video Denis Scuto.

The buildings are presented in chronological order based on when they were built or underwent major transformations. The guide tells the story of the town, its citizens and its heritage – a story that is situated at several levels, whether local, regional, national or transnational, Luxembourgish or European, or even, in the 21st century, global. It describes how parts of the town’s heritage have been saved, often as a result of public campaigns, while others have been destroyed. The guide is the result of a team effort with contributions from experts and enthusiasts with knowledge about Esch-sur-Alzette and other towns in the mining area of Luxembourg and Lorraine, a heritage as yet relatively unexplored. As the guide was being pieced together, a wealth of useful information was also provided by the public, largely in response to the 80 related articles published in the daily newspaper Tageblatt from April to July 2020.

The guide is complemented by a digital map accessible via a QR code and by 12 thematic tour routes based on the featured places and buildings.

A series of 50 short films presenting important sites and monuments in Esch-sur-Alzette has also been produced by Denis Scuto and is available on the C²DH website.

To order the book

see also

Doing Experimental Media Archaeology
One of the C²DH research success stories in 2020 was the replication of a Kinora, an early 20th-century motion picture device designed for home use. The Kinora first emerged at the end of the 19th century and developed into one of the most popular “home movie” machines of the early 1900s.
Analysing transnational events
WARCnet, a European network dedicated to web archives  Following on from the pioneering efforts of the Internet Archive in preserving web content from 1996 onwards (see the Wayback Machine, with 486 billion archived web pages as of late 2020), the 2000s witnessed a gr
Prospecting an in-between
East Belgium 1920-2020 is a virtual exhibition about the history of the Eupen-Malmedy-Sankt Vith region since it went from being German to Belgian in 1920. The virtual exhibition is the result of a collaboration between the German-speaking Community of Belgium, the Zentrum für Ostbelgische Geschichte (ZOG) and the C²DH.
Become part of history!
The Temporary History Lab, housed in the Annexe22 pavilion on Place de la Résistance in Esch from 26 September to 23 October, was the first milestone in the research project “Remixing Industrial Pasts in the Digital Age” (REMIX). The project, funded by Esch2022 a.s.b.l., was one of the initiatives organised as part of Esch2022 European Capital of Culture.
Digital exhibition
Can you imagine a day without your mobile phone, without watching TV or browsing the latest news online (or alternatively reading it in a newspaper that was delivered to your house at the crack of dawn)? For most people, the answer would probably be no.