First public park in Vienna
Welcome to Vienna! May I invite you into my residence, the Stadtpark? Sorry, I almost forgot to introduce myself: please allow me, Johann Strauss, Junior. Since 1921 I’ve been standing here – come rain, hail or shine – in the Stadtpark. That I’ve come to meet you is an exception, come along, I’ll explain on the way.
“There they used to sit, the ladies and gentlemen, and drank milk fresh from the cow. In the middle of the city.” Dairy halls were more than just a fashion in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They were dining institutions. No park, no tourist attraction could be without its Meierei – a small dairy farm. And the Stadtpark was no exception – its Meierei was even taken into account during the rebuilding of the Wienfluss river.
The Stadtpark was built together with the Ring Boulevard in 1860, the first public park in Vienna, designed by Josef Selleny and Rudi Siebeck, the one a painter, the other a landscape architect. I remember it like it was yesterday! Then came the Kinderpark in 1863, for the little ones. So, here we are. Here you can see the Kursalon, built by Johann Garben in 1867 – it’s hard to overlook his soft-spot for the Italian Renaissance. The underground station by Otto Wagner – a perfect example of Jugendstil (art nouveau). And the splendid portal – my park! The lovely ornamental garden atmosphere, the winding paths and the gardens! And look how lovely the Wienfluss river promenade is! And note the beautiful trees: the ginkgo, the rare Lombardy poplar, the Caucasian wingnut – my special favourites, fortunately they’re protected.
And here are a few of my colleagues:
let me introduce you, Lord Mayor Zelinka, the composers Franz Lehar and Franz Schubert – all bronze monuments like me. Only the painter Hans Makart is made of marble, the vain fop! But I’m gold-plated and I’m photographed the most. There are even copies of me in China and Cuba! But here is where I like it best – life’s good here in the park! But now I have to get back to my place, otherwise there’ll be a scandal. Oh, if you feel like something to eat, I can recommend the Meierei dairy hall – a magnificent villa!
Text: Lucia Czernin, Fotos: Christine Wurnig