The "Sablon" is a quarter in the historic city center of Brussels, which includes the larger square "Grand Sablon" and the smaller "Petit Sablon".
For a long time the quarter was inhabited by the aristocracy, until in the 19th-20th century the square was occupied by a more modest populace, characterized by small workshops and warehouses. At this time, into which the older photo falls, markets were often held on the square: fruits, vegetables and fish were sold on Friday; meat, poultry, milk and cheese on Saturday.
In addition, the Grand Sablon became a renowned site for a sport called "balle pelote", a sort of handball. Every year the national tournaments took place here, where even the Belgian king was frequently seen.
After the 1960s, the neighborhood of the square began to change again, "Sablonisation" became a local term for gentrification. The ball tournaments were relocated and the old bars and shops were increasingly replaced by chocolate shops, antique dealers and hotels; for the average citizen, the place has become unaffordable. Once again, the district had become the heart of the Brussels upper class. Moreover, as is the case with many other public squares in Brussels, the Grand Sablon has been partially transformed into a parking lot.