Stuwerviertel: Vienna′s Classiest Hooker-Hood
The Stuwerviertel is a neighbourhood in the 2nd district of Vienna, the Leopoldstadt. As such, it is rather infamous for being one of the few areas in Vienna where you still find a lot of street prostitution – often with illegal elements. Given that almost the entire neighbourhood comprises of Gründerzeit buildings from around 1900, wide streets with trees (very unusual for central Vienna) and the vicinity to the first district, I never really understood why the area could be that bad.
In recent years (progressively after 2000), the neighbourhood has attracted students and wealthier clientele. The development of subway line U2 led to major improvements and real estate prices went up dramatically. However, many people still have old rental contracts and so the Stuwerviertel is still considered somewhat dodgy by some.
The Stuwerviertel has the shape of a triangle: Starting at the Praterstern, it is framed by the Lasallestraße, the Ausstellungsstraße and the Vorgartenstraße, which runs parallel to the Danube. As an immigrant area, it has many ethnic shops and restaurants, but also residential corners that are rather quiet. The Prater parks are easily accessible from the Stuwerviertel.
Historic Development of the Stuwerviertel
Initially, the Prater was a hunting ground for the Habsburg court and not accessible for the general public. This changed when Emperor Joseph II opened this area in 1776 as a recreational zone. Speaking of the origins of the neighbourhood: It is named after the Stuwerstraße, which in turn carries the name of Johann Georg Stuwer who organised fireworks in the Prater after 1776.
The development of the Messezentrum, the Vienna convention centre, is linked to the great exhibition of 1873. It gave rise to the formation of a real estate bubble which caused a global economic crisis when bursting. The first houses along the Ausstellungsstraße were built in the 1880ies, by the early 19th century, the Stuwerviertel had roughly its current shape. As many neighbourhoods in the 2nd district, the Stuwerviertel had a significant Jewish population. Many of the Jewish residents left after the Anschluss or got deported and killed.
Today, the Stuwerviertel is associated with street prostitution, fuelled by the amusement park of the Würstelprater right next to it. That being said, the Stuwerviertel is neither an attraction (like the red light districts of Paris, Amsterdam or Hamburg), nor dangerous. It is just a normal neighbourhood in Vienna with lots of prostitutes on the streets. This is likely to change in the near future, as property prices are rising and the city of Vienna is trying to de-centralise prostitution (i.e. get it away from the Stuwerviertel).
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