This section is from "The American Cyclopaedia", by George Ripley And Charles A. Dana. Also available from Amazon: The New American Cyclopędia. 16 volumes complete..
Antwerp (Fr. Anxers; Span. Amberes; Ger. and Flem. Antwerpen). I. A province of Belgium, bounded N. by Holland, and E., S., and W. by the Belgian provinces of Limburg, Brabant, and East Flanders; area, 1,094 sq. m.; pop. in 1869, 485,83:5, nearly all Roman Catholics. The province is almost an uninterrupted, flat, but chiefly composed of fertile soil, excepting some barren districts in the N. and N. W. The district called the "polders," extending along the Scheldt from Antwerp to Zand-vliet, originally a swamp, has been drained and converted into rich pasture and arable land. The principal rivers are the Scheldt, which borders it on the west, and its navigable tributaries, the Rupel, the Dyle, and the Great and Little Nethe. The province is rich in wheat, rye, barley, flax, hemp, fruit, cattle, horses, fish, honey, and tobacco, and in manufactures of cotton, lace, woollens, linens, silks, soap, spirits, refined sugar, salt, leather, and oil. The principal towns are Antwerp, Mechlin, Lierre, Turnhout, Boom, Gheel, and Zandvliet.
II. A city, capital of the preceding province, and the principal seaport of Belgium, situated on the right bank of the Scheldt, 45 m. from its mouth, and 29 m. by railway N. of Brussels, in lat. 51° 13' N., Ion. 4° 24' E.; pop. in 1869, 126,668. The recent removal of the old fortifications has vastly extended the area of the city. The old citadel, long regarded as a model fortress, has been razed, and the greater part of its site was sold in 1870 to the Prussian railway contractor Strousberg for 14,000,000 francs, under the condition that about half of the space should be reserved for the construction of basins, docks, and wharfs. The rest of the ground is to serve as a site for a new railway station. A new city, with tine boulevards, squares, and promenades, has sprung up on the site of the old ramparts and bastions. The new fortifications, constructed in 1862-'5, extend over an area of nearly 20 m. The new citadel (citadelle du nord) commands the river and is connected with the principal old fort by a new curved line of walls. The outer circle of detached forts, each provided with about 135 guns, are linked together by a military road beyond the reach of shells from an enemy outside. About one half of the enceinte is defensible by inundations produced by cutting the dikes.
The whole enceinte is expected to afford room for about 30,000 men in bombproof barracks. The cost of the new work is estimated at about 12,000,000 francs. Gun carriages and artillery appendages are made in the arsenal, and ammunition for ordnance and small arms in the pyrotechnic school. The magnificent dockyards constructed under the direction of Napoleon I. were demolished in 1814 in accordance with the treaty of Paris, but the two great basins were preserved and have been converted into docks, which are lined with warehouses. New dock basins (Kattendyk) were opened in 1860. An extensive system of canals affords facilities for inland traffic. The old part of the city retains its quaint Flemish characteristics. The Flemish language is spoken by the mass of the people and French by the cultivated classes. On the Place Verte is a conspicuous statue of Rubens, who lived and died here. Vandyke's is near the museum, and one of Teniers was erected in 1867. The cathedral of Antwerp, one of the most celebrated Gothic edifices of Europe, contains master works of Rubens and other celebrities. The churches of the Augus-tines, St. James, St. Anthony of Padua, and others, contain also remarkable paintings of the great masters.
In the church of St. George, opened in 1853, are frescoes by Guffens and Sweerts. The works of Rubens and Vandyke give the highest celebrity to the academy or museum of painting. The old bourse, which served as a model for the London exchange, was destroyed by fire in 1858. The new bourse is near the hotel St. Antoine. The hotel de ville contains line paintings. Among the other public buildings are the library and the botanical and zoological gardens. The city is connected by railways with all parts of the continent, has regular steam communication with English, Dutch, and German ports, and is a point of departure for emigrants to the United States. In 1840 the tonnage was about 350,000; in 1856, 900,-000; and in 1871, over 2,000,000. About 7,000 vessels annually enter and leave the port. The navigation and commerce of the United States with Antwerp for 1870 comprised 50 vessels entered and 48 cleared; the inward cargoes, chiefly guano and petroleum, were estimated at $4,528,093, and the outward at $2,040,147. The larger portion of the Belgian import and export trade, valued in the aggregate at 5,000,000,000 francs, passes through this port. - Antwerp was a place of importance as early as the 11th century, and was at the zenith of its prosperity in the 15th and 16th, with a population estimated as high as 200,000, and a commerce extending all over the world; and the Scheldt was filled with shipping of all nations, 2,500 vessels being there at one time.
Charles V., to protect himself against the citizens, added in 1507 a citadel to the original fortifications of 1540. A conflict in 157b-'7 between the local, German, and Spanish troops, resulted in the death of 10,000 persons and in the surrender of the citadel by the citizens. In 1583 the latter defeated the attempted seizure of the city by the duke of Anjou. On Aug. 17, 1585, the citadel capitulated after 13 months1 siege. one of the most eventful in history, to the duke of Parma, Spanish viceroy of the Netherlands. The prosperity of the place, shaken by these vicissitudes, was almost annihilated by the closing of the navigation of the Scheldt in the middle of the 17th century. Rotterdam and Amsterdam during this period superseded Antwerp in importance, and its commerce did not begin to revive till after the acknowledgment of the freedom of the Scheldt navigation by Holland in 1795. The citadel was captured in 1740 and 1792 by the French, in 1793 by the Austrians, and in 1794 once more by the French. In 1809 Bernadotte protected the city against Lord Chatham's attempt to destroy the port and the forts, in 1814 it was defended against the English by (arnot, the French governor, and surrendered only after the conclusion of peace, May 5. After the union of Belgium with Holland (1815) Antwerp carried on an extensive trade with Java, which has since been diverted to Dutch ports.
In 1830, during the Belgian revolution, the city was bombarded from the citadel by the Dutch general Chasse, who was finally forced to surrender his stronghold Dec. 23, 1832, after a siege by a French army of 50,000 men under Marshal Gerard. This ended the contest with Holland, and on Dec. 30, 1832, the citadel, almost wholly destroyed by the bombardment, was occupied by the Belgian troops, since which period the city has become the great commercial emporium and military stronghold of Belgium. The abolition by settlement in 1863 of the Belgian Scheldt dues had a happy effect upon the prosperity of Antwerp. In September, 1871, a great part of the city was destroyed by fire, but rapidly rebuilt. - The remarkable former artistic achievements of Antwerp are described in Schnaase's Niederlan-dische Briefe (Stuttgart, 1834); and among the more recent historical works relating to the city is L' Histoire de la villa d'Anvers, by Gens (Antwerp, 1861).
The Cathedral of Antwerp.