Introduction

Space never lies. Urban societies, historians agree, are distinct through their size, density and the spatial relationships that shape social interactions, which in turn are at the heart of urbanity. Yet, hitherto few studies have managed to integrate spatial data into a comprehensive database system that allows to map the complex web of social relations. Moreover, most GIS-based studies tackle cities at an aggregate level, while most social decisions and data are created at a micro-level. The major goal of GIStorical Antwerp is to build a micro-level data tool for historical Antwerp, but transferable to other cases as well, constructing a series of vector maps, linked to a variety of historical geo-data. Thanks to a unique combination of a critical mass of already existing databases and a clear focus on households as major agents of social behavior, we believe this cutting-edge tool will result in a truly innovative “integrated social history” of the city. This tool will, in the future, be developed through integration of new databases, which eventually will enable the members of the Centre for Urban History as well as other researchers to launch new research projects with unprecedented research possibilities.