Donaukanal Canal, Vienna:
"Little Danube" & Urban Lifeline - Part II
In the course of WWII, the island between Donaukanal and Danube became the barrier for the last bastion of the Wehrmacht, fighting the advancing Soviet troops. Russian artillery destroyed most of the buildings along the canal on both sides. Most of the buildings there had been 19th century historicist buildings in the style of the Ringstraße, so I personally don't feel sorry about the loss. They were later replaced by ugly 1950ies houses (I do feel sorry about that) and only in the past 20-odd years, modern buildings with higher architectural standards are slowly being built. After WWII, the area of the Donaukanal was suddenly a cheap area in terms of real estate - despite of their central location.
Many for foreigners, often from the Balkan and Turkey moved in, not adding much to the appeal of the area. At the same time, the roads that ran along the canal on both sides became major traffic lines for Vienna. In the 1960ies, plans for an inner-city motorway were proposed - see also my article on the Gürtel for details. This was rejected in 1971, since the Donaukanal would have lost its recreational value. Instead, half-hearted revitalisation projects were started. The odd tree was planted and a few bars opened and closed again. Traffic increased, so did the percentage of foreign residents with a low social background.
Today, the Donaukanal is reasonably popular for jogging, taking your dog out for a poo or sitting by the shoreline. Especially during summer, there are many outdoor bars along the canal. However, the traffic prevents the area from developing into something genuinely charming. The city of Vienna tries hard to sell the Donaukanal as sort of a "lido in the city", but I don′t think many people buy that. Recent years saw at least a clear improvement of the shore that is part of the Leopoldstadt.
Modern Buildings along the Donaukanal Canal
Several fancy office towers (such as the OPEC headquarter or the UNIQUA tower) have added to the appeal of the area. Along the Donaukanal, you find 15 bridges for cars and five for trains. Verdict: Unless traffic decreases dramatically (unlikely) or some way is found to cut down on fume exhaustion, the Donaukanal will not become a second Seine. Sorry, Vienna.
Still, at least the Donaukanal is better off than the Gürtel Road, which was also spoilt by ever-increasing traffic. The Donaukanal is very central and the shores bear some green on most parts, making even an ugly 1950ies apartment block more attractive than a similar building on the Gürtel. Some of the city′s attempts to fake a "lido and promenade" do look rather promising as of 2008; whilst I am personally turned off by the huge amount of traffic right next to most leisure ventures, a fair amount of people seems to accept and enjoy the attractions that range from a pool on a boat to beach volleyball courses.
Return to "Donaukanal Canal - Part I"
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