The signs of an industrial past may sometimes be apparent, such as industrial buildings or an old chimney here and there, but less conspicuous traces of a legacy may be seen just as often. This is the case in Zaventem. In the early 1900s, the municipality was famous for its tanneries, paper mills and vehicle manufacturing. Virtually all the Brussels newspapers purchased their supplies from the Zaventem paper industry. Blue-collar factory jobs were then replaced by white-collar office jobs.
Like most municipalities in the region, Zaventem used to be a mainly agricultural community but over time the municipality changed from a farming village into an industrialised area. The large farmsteads disappeared from the streetscape to be replaced by workshops and workers’ housing.