Het Eilandje (The little Island), in the middle of a swampy tidal stream connected to the Schelde river, became part of the harbor of Antwerp in the golden age, when large numbers of cargo ships sailed into the city´s docks. When the port area consolidated later on, the island remained, between the Willems- and Bonaparte docks. It used to be a lively harbor quarter with the usual bars and nightlife.
By the 1980´s, Het Eilandje had become a rather abandoned and rundown neighborhood. The still populated sites in the area were indicated for urban renewal. State subsidies were considered to let inhabitants renovate their dwellings. However, this didn´t stop the decline of the neighborhood, which in the end attracted real estate developers and investors. Ground prices started rising and bit by bit gentrification took hold of Het Eilandje.
The municipality stimulated the redevelopment of the area by building the Museum Aan De Stroom (MAS), designed by Dutch architects Neutelings Riedijk, which opens in May 2011.