Did you know that naming stations is not always neutral? Usually station names simply repeat the pre-existing names of public places nearby. In other cases, public authorities have opted for names that convey the values of the dominant social groups and celebrate the national official history. For instance, by choosing the name ‘Austerlitz’ for a railway station in Paris, the French celebrated Napoleon’s victory. However, Londoners named the railway station ‘Waterloo’ after the place of his defeat. Transport geographer Frédéric Dobruszkes investigated the socio-political background of all the 69 metro stations in Brussels and found interesting examples.
Instead of being named after the main squares nearby (place Van Meenen and Barrière de Saint-Gilles), Horta station in Brussels was named after Victor Horta, the master of Art Nouveau architecture. This choice did not come from a local place name but from political considerations: Art Nouveau was used in building the identity of the new Brussels-Capital Region in the 1990s. As this case highlights, station naming can be a political act rather than a coincidence. So, do you know why your station is called as it is?