With the controversy surrounding Leopold II’s role in the atrocities committed in the Congo Free State and the realisation that relatively few streets, squares and in this case, tunnels are named after women, the Brussels regional authorities decided to call for suggestions from the general public for a new female name for the tunnel.
The tunnel that is 2.5 kilometres long and runs from just outside the city centre to the Koekelberg Basilica is currently in the final stages of renovation work.
Once the work is completed the tunnel will no longer be known as the Leopold II Tunnel, but instead bear the name of an artist that had a career that spanned 7 decades.
Originally from the Brussels district of Laken, Léonia Juliana baroness Cooreman, died last year in the South of France aged 92. The regional authorities added Annie Cordy’s name to a ten-name shortlist drawn up by a panel of experts. The singer and actresses’ name was added as it was the name most frequently suggested by the general public.
During the whole of last month those living in the Brussels-Capital Region were able to vote for their candidate of choice. They voted to posthumously honour a woman from a relatively humble background who become a household name and even featured in the Asterix album ‘Asterix in Belgium’ as the wife of the Belgians chieftain. Her name will be now be given to a tunnel through which around 80,000 motorists pass each day.