As stated, the outbreak started in a working-class neighbourhood at the Vieux Marché. It spread fairly quickly to the immediate surroundings, the south and southwest of Brussels. The working-class areas in the north and around the Chaussée d’Etterbeek in the very eastern part of the city followed in mid-June. In July we also see the disease becoming more prevalent in neighbourhoods with a higher average cadastral income. In fact, it is striking that the epidemic claimed victims in all sections of the population, but that in the more affluent neighbourhoods it took several weeks before the disease hit hard. Of course, we should also take into account that the citizens in houses with a high cadastral income were not all necessarily well-off. After all, many large houses were divided into smaller dwellings and rented out.
Moreover, in order to determine the specific spatial distribution of cholera, it is also important to take into account the composition and density of the population in the different streets and neighbourhoods. Unfortunately, the historical sources do not allow us to go down to that level of detail, but we do have the number of inhabitants per street. This means we can better examine the extent to which different neighbourhoods were affected.
For example, we can say that the cholera epidemic manifested itself very selectively in spatial terms. Figure 4 shows that cholera wreaked havoc (red and orange areas) in the lower-lying working-class neighbourhoods in the south (Marolles), southwest (Vieux Marché) and north (harbour area and Notre-Dame-aux-Neiges) of the city.
In addition, there were many deaths in the rural area to the east of the Chaussée d’Etterbeek, where likewise numerous workers were housed in small dwellings. Most of the higher-lying neighbourhoods, on the other hand, were relatively mildly affected (green areas). This is true of the commercial districts in the city centre, the residential areas around the Royal Park and the Leopold Quarter with its numerous embassies and consulates.