Etterbeek emerged on the edge of a stream (beek) and the area, dotted with fields, ponds, and watermills set in an undulating landscape, became a favorite promenade place for city residents. Located in the center of the Brussels Capital Region, the commune was founded well before 1100. Its existence is attested to officially in 1127 and the name was spelled variously (Le-trebecca, Latrebacke, Itrebeek, Jetterbeke). The name Etterbeek first appeared in 1138. From 1312, it formed part of the cuve of Brussels. It grew slowly—only 2,944 inhabitants in 1846—but after the abolition of tolls in 1860 it began to develop rapidly. The Brussels-Namur railway line passed through the borough and a large barracks was built opposite the army field grounds that are occupied today by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the Dutch-language division of the Université libre de Bruxelles. Etterbeek has lost several slices of territory to Brussels, including the plain of Linthout, expropriated in 1850 to build a military training ground, the Eggevoord tract purchased by the city in 1853, which became part of the Léopold district, and also the grounds on which the Vrije Universiteit now stands.

Historical Dictionary of Brussels. .

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