History and development of the district of Servette Petit-Saconnex

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The district of Servette Petit-Saconnex has undergone a spectacular transformation over the past hundred years. A rural, forested area in the 19th century, it has become a densely-populated district that is now home to more than 15% of the city’s population.

Quartier du Petit-Saconnex / Servette

The district of Servette Petit-Saconnex only recently became urbanised: in the 19th century, the area was still covered by forest.

Development of the district: from forest to apartment buildings

Until the end of the 19th century, the current district of Servette Petit-Saconnex was in the middle of the countryside. The area was divided between forests and large bourgeois estates. Forest tracks led to the city from Petit-Saconnex, running alongside a small stream and through the forest and meadows. La Servette was a private home. The current rue de la Servette follows the line of the former main drive leading to the manor house (the Liotard house).

From the beginning of the 20th century, the district underwent rapid transformation. First individual houses were built followed by rental properties several storeys high. The district became urbanised and more densely populated.

In between the buildings, a few parks, old trees, street names or other anecdotes still bear witness to this rural past.

What do “Servette” and “Petit-Saconnex” mean?

The very name of the district recalls the forested past of the area. “Servette” comes from “silva”, meaning “forest” in Latin.

Petit-Saconnex, on the other hand, derives its name from the Saconay family that had a fortified house here before 1728. Dating back to the 12th century, this family owned the land of the Petit and Grand-Saconnex as well as that of Bursinel.

Gradual merging with the city

At the turn of the 20th century, the district of Servette Petit-Saconnex was increasingly close to the city:

  • In 1894, Petit-Saconnex was linked to the city by a tramway;
  • In 1924-1925, the Servette road was built to provide access to the newly inaugurated Cointrin Airport;
  • In 1930, it was voted that the municipality of Petit-Saconnex should merge with the City of Geneva.

Article modifié le 03.01.2023 à 15:21