Vienna: An Introduction

By J. Alexander Killion

Urban spaces have always evolved to accommodate the changing needs and desires of the people that live within them, but no previous transformations had ever been as sudden or dramatic as that of the industrial era. A drastically increased population, the presence of new, deadly diseases, changing military realities, outbreaks of urban unrest, and changing technology all combined to present unprecedented challenges for urban administrators in cities such as Vienna during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The following sections will explore the evolution of Vienna’s various urban infrastructures, from the immediate and obvious (walls streets, and waterways), to the less visible (sewers and waste disposal), and finally to the diffuse and intangible (foodshed) during the industrial era. Each of these innovations drastically altered the experience of living in the Austrian capital, making the city of 1914 in many ways unrecognizable to someone who may have seen it in 1814. The free flow of goods and people, the easy access to clean water and convenient disposal of waste, and the taming of the nearby river that continues to benefit the residents of Vienna today had their origin in the relatively short industrial period leading up to the First World War.

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