A preliminary guide and history
Note: This is a work in process. It has grown out of my
course Fin-de-Siecle Viennese Culture and the Coffeehouse. Offered Spring II, 2001. It is a
work in progress and in no way put forward as complete.
Primary early source: This first version of comment on the Ringstrasse is based exclusively on Carl Schorske's version in his chapter on the Ringstrasse in his book: FIN-DE-SIECLE VIENNA: POLITICS AND CULTURE.
I have hopes of extending the comments and data from other sources as time allows.
- SOME GENERAL COMMENTS:
- The buildings suggest magnifying horizontal space without confinement.
- 1859 plan focuses on the circular flow.
- There is a certain irony about the ground itself. The three buildings on the
outer ring -- university, rathaus and parliament -- are built on the area
of the old military marching grounds, the champ de Mars. This area of
over 500 acres was reluctantly given up. Even the architecture of the
Parliament strongly suggests a style quite at odds with the militarism of the ground's history and reflects much more pacific dreams of liberalism.
- RATHHAUS QUARTER:
Museum of Art History and Museum of Natural History
- architect: Gottfried Semper
- theme of unity and splendor.
Gustav Klimt decorated the main lobby with female figures of each era of
art. This was in his early period before the radicalism of his "post university"
- architects: August von Siccardsburg and Eduard van der Null.
- The housing in this area tended to be aristocratic rentiers and
the business elite.
- SCHWARZENBERGERPLATZ AREA
- Early: in the 1860s. This was held by the highest social quarter who
invested in this area.
- TEXTILE QUARTER
- located in the northeast corner of the Ringstrasse.
- includes Concordiaplatz.
- the dominant owners here were textile manufacturers, members of the
- SOME TIME AND SOCIAL ORGANIZATION LINES:
- First Wave Of Building: Karntnerring: 1861-1865
Middle income housing. Smaller, uniform units. Classical
uniformity in the fašade.
- Second Wave of Building: In Rathaus quarter:
Eg. Reichsratsstrasse (behind Parliament).
Emphasizes differentiation in both fašade and interior and accepts
the stratification of society and accepts upward mobility.
- Theophil Hansen opened investment to wider circles with the
Gruppenzinshaus. This was a block-size building which was
actually 8 connect multiple-dwelling entries, each of which
could be sold to different owners.
This sort of housing helped to create a rapprochement of aristocracy and bourgeoisie because of the proximity of
- SOME NOTES ON OTTO WAGNER AND THE RINGSTRASSE.
- An early and unfamous Otto Wagner participated in the Ringstrasse-
related architecture, made a great deal of money and then, much later, became a critic of Ringstrasse architecture and moved far
- For nearly 25 years he worked on buildings of the Ringstrasse period,
but off the ring itself. He was at first pushed by his mother, who
owned several Ringstrasse buildings, and pushed by his own
driving sense of economic upward mobility. He emerged from this period of his life a quite wealthy man.
- Later he emerged as a stern critic of Ringstrasse architecture but was
involved in one extremely famous building that, while not ON the
ring technically, is visible from it and usually considered part of the ring.
This is the Postal Saving Bank Building.
- Wagner built this building between 1904-1906.
- There are some ironies connected with this. Wagner was a champion of progress and modernism. Yet the building itself if for a quite right wing conservative organization.
- The bank was conceived for the "little man" and had the concept of many small depositors uniting together to create a financial institution which could rival the big banks and the power and control of Jewish bankers. It was conceived by the Christian Socialist Party and was conservative and anti-Semitic.
- Mayor Karl Lueger engineered the placing of the bust of Georg
Coch in the square in front of the bank headquarters and itself on
the ring. Wagner agreed to this. The irony is that Coch was a great hero to the anti-Semites and conservatives.
- Despite the fact of this political conservative connection with the building, Wager was free to construct as he saw fit and the building is one of the great triumphs of his period of progressive architecture.
- This Postal Savings building is just across the ring from the
massive War Ministry building. These two bastions of conservativism are just diagonally across the ring from Dr. Karl
Lueger Ring near the Votive Kirche. This area symbolized the rise
of conservative power and thus two points on this rough circle emphasize the contrary political emphasis as many of the other
- SOURCES ON THE RINGSTRASSE IN ADDITION TO SCHORSKE'S BOOK
- Grimschitz, Bruno. DIE WIENER RINGSTRASSE. Bremen and Berlin:
- Lichtenbeger, Elizabeth. "Wirtschfsfunktion und Sozialstruktur der Wiener
Ringstrasse." In, Wagner-Rieger, VI, 24-26.
- Lorenz, Reinhold. "Politische Geschichte der Wiener Ringstrasse," in DREI
JAHRHUNDRETE VOLK, STAAT UND REICH. Vienna: 1944, pp. 487-489.
The allocation of glacis land for the church anticipates the general edit of 1857 releasing the area.
- Wagner-Rieger, Renate
- 1969: Editor: DIE WIENER RINSTRASSE, BILD EINER EPOCHE.
- 1970: WIENS ARCHITEKTUR IM 19. JAHRHUNDRET. Vienna, 1970.