The Praterstern is a meeting point for seven streets in the Prater area of Vienna′s second district, the Leopoldstadt. The name means "Prater Star" and refers to the star-shaped arrangement of these seven streets: The Praterstraße, Heinestraße, Nordbahnstraße, Ausstellungsstraße, Lasallestraße, Prater Hauptallee and Franzensbrückenstraße. At the centre of the historic Praterstern you will find the Tegetthoff memorial of 1886; however, the centre of the square was somewhat shifted in the course of a post-war re-alignment of the local train station. The central square of the Praterstern is surrounded by Vienna′s biggest roundabout.
Historically, the Prater was a natural landscape used by the Habsburg court as a hunting ground. The floodplains of the Danube made the area a chunk of wilderness in the vicinity of the city. This was to change only very slowly in the 18th century, when first streets were built. As of the late 18th century, today′s Praterstern was already outlaid by the seven crossing streets. Houses, however, were a rather rare construction in this area until well into the 19th century. This was to change with the development of the Nordbahnhof in 1838.
History of Nordbahnhof & Praterstern
The Nordbahnhof soon became the most important station of Vienna and in 1859, the shape of the Praterstern was formally determined by building a viaduct around the crossing. The major training of the Danube that occurred between 1870 and 1875 resulted in the development of new building land in this area – a real estate bubble burst in 1873 around the Great Exhibition in the Messezentrum, resulting in a global economic crisis. In 1879, the square was officially re-named into "Praterstern".
In 1945, the Second District became the last stronghold of the Wehrmacht and the advancing Soviet troops made this the final battle ground in their endeavour to conquer Vienna. In the course of the fighting, the Nordbahnhof was shelled and damaged. The ruins of the building remained there until into the 1950ies. Only in 1955, the Nordbahnhof area was finally re-developed. Soon after 1980, the subway line U1 ended here (it was extended since then).
Since 2008, line U2 crosses U1 here and a big underground station was developed in conjunction with the regional train network and a crossing of tram lines. Recent building developments along the Lassallestraße (offices and new residential buildings) helped to improve the neighbourhood, which went downhill pretty much permanently since the 1980ies. Today, this part of the second district is among the most "coming" parts of Vienna.
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