World Exhibition 1873

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World Exhibition 1873
Vienna World Exhibition
Main entrance to the world exhibition grounds with the rotunda in the background

Main entrance to the world exhibition grounds with the rotunda in the background

Exhibition space 233 ha
Number of visitors 7,255,000
BIE recognition Yes
countries 35 countries
Exhibitors 53,000 exhibitors
Place of issue
place Vienna
terrain Vienna Prater Coordinates: 48 ° 12 '58 "  N , 16 ° 23' 44"  EWorld icon
opening May 1, 1873
closure November 2, 1873
Chronological order
predecessor Paris 1867
successor Philadelphia 1876

The World Exhibition of 1873 took place in Vienna from May 1st to November 2nd, 1873 . It was the fifth world exhibition and the first in the German-speaking area.

It was intended to present Austria's regained self-confidence after the lost wars against Piedmont / France (1859) and Prussia (1866). The project was supported by both liberal politicians under the Mayor of Vienna Cajetan Felder and representatives of the Austrian economy and agriculture. In the official program it was announced that the international exhibition should present the cultural life of the present and the whole area of ​​the economy and promote their further progress.


Rotunda and main portal with the decoration of the same, January 1873
The site on March 7, 1873

As early as 1857, publications were published in favor of holding an industrial exhibition to promote the economy, open up new trade markets and establish trade relationships. The Lower Austrian Trade Association and the Lower Austrian Chamber of Commerce and Industry have participated in the discussion since 1862 . Exhibitors who were already successful emphasized the tremendous benefit of such an event. Imperial resolutions to hold a world exhibition were published in 1866 and 1868, but were drowned out by the turmoil of the war year of 1866 and the announcement of plans for the Paris world exhibition in 1867. With the economic upswing, the world exhibition idea was resumed in 1867.

The industrialist Franz von Wertheim , at that time president of the Lower Austrian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Lower Austrian Trade Association , made a decisive contribution to this . Wertheim published a call to hold a world exhibition in the "Wochenschrift des Niederösterreichischer Gewerbe-Verein". With that the stone had finally started rolling. In 1869 a commission was set up with the task of making proposals on organization and funding.

Since the Cisleithan government (see Mayor's Ministry and Ministry of Potocki ) had not given a promise by spring 1870 , Wertheim put pressure on with the argument that England was already thinking of planning a world exhibition again. There were also inquiries from foreign exhibition committees to announce the date. On May 21, 1870, Minister of Commerce Sisinio de Pretis from the Potocki Ministry finally applied to the emperor for implementation.

On May 24, 1870, Emperor Franz Joseph I signed the decree to hold the exhibition. Archduke Karl Ludwig , brother of the emperor, was named protector and Archduke Rainer president of the world exhibition. On January 9, 1871, the experienced exhibition specialist Wilhelm von Schwarz-Senborn was appointed general director. His condition was that he was given unrestricted powers. In May 1871 he came to Vienna from Paris; at this point the concrete planning began.

On July 21, 1871, a draft law introduced by the Hohenwart Ministry to grant a state loan of 6 million guilders, which had been accepted in both houses of the Reichsrat , was sanctioned by the Emperor and subsequently announced. Half of the amount was a State to shot, the other half was a non-interest bearing advance referred that the through private subscription a guarantee fund guaranteed by industrialists and various companies.

On August 1, 1871, Schwarz-Senborn opened an office in the Kleinschen Haus at Praterstrasse 42; the street was the most important feeder from the old town to the world exhibition site. All administrative matters relating to the world exhibition came together at this address. The writer, journalist and local councilor Julius Hirsch, a confidante of Schwarz-Senborn, was appointed to the presidency. The section council in the Imperial and Royal Ministry of Commerce Georg Thaa took over the management of the office , the later central trade inspector Franz Migerka was entrusted with the editing of the official documents , and C. Mack took over the management of the official catalog. To support the administration, Schwarz-Senborn was set up by an imperial commission (organizational statute of September 12, 1871). This semi-official government body served to perform special executive tasks in the interest of the public.

In October 1872 the entire amount was used up for the construction work on the Prater and other preparations, and so the Auersperg Ministry was granted an additional loan of 9.7 million guilders with corresponding parliamentary resolutions, sanctioned by the Emperor on April 4, 1873. Deviating from the original law, the total budget of 15.7 million guilders has now been designated in the law as a non-interest-bearing state advance .

Due to the escalating budget overrun, Schwarz-Senborn was assigned a control body in June 1873, which was headed by Josef Fierlinger, Section Head in the Imperial and Royal Ministry of Finance. This administrative council had the task of controlling income and expenditure. At this point in time, a deficit could no longer be prevented as all deals had already been concluded.

Exhibition grounds and architecture

Site plan

The Wiener Prater , the former imperial hunting ground that Emperor Josef II had given the Viennese population as a recreational area as early as 1766, was chosen as the exhibition site . This area had a total area of ​​about 233 hectares, of which 16 hectares were built on. The area was about five times the size of the Champ de Mars in Paris, where the previous world exhibition had taken place.

The exhibition area was delimited in the southwest by the Prater-Hauptallee, in the northwest were the Praterstern and the former north station . In the southeast the area was bounded by the floodplains and in the northeast by the regulated Danube , which was only completed in 1870 .

The architectural management was in the hands of Carl von Hasenauer , who implemented the project with the architects Gustav von Korompay and Gustav Gugitz , among others .

In addition to its numerous pavilions, part of the layout concept were the green spaces with their quiet zones, water features and groups of trees. Thousands of "gas flames" were distributed in the exhibition area and provided a brilliant illumination of the area.

For the facade design of the largest halls, historicist styles were used, which encased the steel-iron structure of the supporting structure. Contrary to the typical construction of exhibition buildings in the second half of the 19th century, using scaffolding in glass-iron constructions for creative purposes, the Viennese builders found iron to be unsuitable as an artistic means of expression. The rotunda and the industrial palace are the most popular examples. The rotunda has gone down in history as the symbol of the world exhibition. The industrial palace was equipped with four gates, the south portal with the imposing sculptural decoration being the most striking.

The Schweizerhaus- or Tyrolean-style rooms, a subset of were represented, home style . Typical farmhouses were set up in the “International Village”. Among other things, a Vorarlberg farmhouse, two houses from Transylvania, a Gedeler house and housing examples from Croatia, Romania, Russia, Galicia and Alsace were shown. Examples of middle-class houses with interiors from Austria, Holland and Norway as well as an African hut and the magnificent palace of the Viceroy of Egypt were also presented.

The area consisted of a total of 194 individual pavilions with a variety of international architectural styles.

Important buildings (selection)

  • Rotunda : symbol of the world exhibition
  • Industrial palace: based on original plans by the architects Eduard van der Nüll and August Sicard von Sicardsburg
  • Machine hall: length 800 meters, exhibition area 40,000 m²
  • Art Gallery
  • Replica of the Ottoman Ahmed Fountain from Constantinople
  • Agricultural machine shop
  • Imperial Pavilion
  • Austro-Hungarian Lloyd Pavilion
  • Pavilion of the "New Free Press"
  • Pavilion of the Cercle Oriental
  • Northern and Southern Pavilions for Art
  • Pavilion of the Danube Steamship Society
  • Persian house
  • Egyptian assembly including mosque and minaret
  • Additive Exhibition Pavilion
  • Pavilion of the Carinthian coal and steel industry
  • Railway company pavilions
  • Agriculture halls West and East

Infrastructure in the world exhibition area

The logistical handling of the exhibition setup was carried out according to the most modern technology. Under the direction of chief engineer Wilhelm von Engerth , a construction department, a machine department and an administrative and technical accounting department took care of the planning and implementation of the work. So were z. For example, for the machine hall, 27 units of a transmission frame with a 794 meter shaft length and several steam engines are required, as well as eight boiler houses, which were sunk halfway into the basement to allow undisturbed supervision.

The water supply systems had to meet high requirements. In addition to usable and drinking water for restaurants and sanitary facilities, water was also required for maintaining the gardens and cleaning the exhibition halls. Water also had to be available for fire fighting. Three waterworks were built: a high-pressure waterworks with its own water tower, a low-pressure waterworks for the machine hall and a reserve high-pressure and fountain waterworks that was operated with an air tank . These could be connected to one another as required. The originally planned dimensions of the high-pressure waterworks were expanded soon after the opening, as the water consumption of some of the machines shown at the exhibition was higher than expected. For example, the special supplement to the international exhibition newspaper printed on continuous paper required an amount of water of "3 to 4,000 cubic feet per hour". To fight fires, 100 “fire changers” were installed in the halls and 160 hydrants outside.

The sanitary facilities were installed by John Lennings in London. With these patented English “water closets” (WC), the site had a standard that was otherwise only available to the privileged at the time. It was not until 1885 that this facility became the norm for new buildings in Vienna.

A connecting line was built from the north station to the exhibition station, which was positioned behind the machine hall. This connection met logistical requirements for the transport of the building materials to the exhibition grounds.

In August 1872, the number of 5,000 workers who were solely responsible for the construction of the exhibition buildings is documented. For these, the municipal administration built its own mass quarters with a total of 3,377 beds.

The opening

The opening ceremony. Wood engraving after a drawing by Vinzenz Katzler (1873)

The spectacular opening ceremony was held in the presence of numerous representatives from politics and industry in the rotunda of the industrial hall. Archduke Karl Ludwig presented the still incomplete opening catalog to Emperor Franz Joseph I and gave a speech. The emperor replied and opened the exhibition with the following words:

With vivid satisfaction I see the completion of a company, the importance and importance of which I fully appreciate. My trust in the patriotism and productivity of my peoples, in the sympathies and support of our friendly nations, has accompanied the development of this great work. My imperial benevolence and grateful appreciation are dedicated to its completion. I hereby declare the world exhibition opened.

Exhibition profile

Agricultural machine shop

The exhibition was both the venue for business issues such as the presentation of technical developments and inventions, increasing sales or establishing international contacts, as well as the stage for promoting intellectual culture and cultural history. The home of the exhibited products should be brought closer to the home of the exhibited products by imparting knowledge and emotionalizing the presentation of international cultural events. The subjects of industry, machines, agriculture and art were spatially separated due to the abundance of exhibits.

The Austrian exhibition was divided into 26 groups and 174 sections. In addition to the products of the industrial age, the arts and crafts and agriculture were represented with a wide range of products. The Austrian contribution "Education" with its social aspects received international attention. Cultural manifestations, living environments, food, furnishings and architecture from the exhibiting countries were also staged.

The “additional exhibition” was dedicated to a technical-historical review of the history of work and inventions from 1750 to 1873 from a purely Austrian perspective. The exhibition specialist Wilhelm Exner compiled numerous exhibits from public and private collections across Austria in a record time of eight months. In the pavilion of the additional exhibition there was also the “exhibition about women's work”, which was initiated by the tradesman Franz Migerka .

16 international specialist congresses also took place at the world exhibition .

Structure of the exhibition program in groups
  1. Mining and metallurgy
  2. Agriculture, forestry, viticulture, fruit growing and horticulture
  3. Chemical industry
  4. Food and beverages as a production of industry
  5. Textile and clothing industry
  6. Leather and rubber industry
  7. Metal industry
  8. Timber industry
  9. Stone, clay and glassware
  10. Haberdashery industry
  11. Paper industry
  12. Graphic arts and commercial drawing
  13. Mechanical engineering and means of transport
  1. Scientific instruments
  2. Musical instruments
  3. Army
  4. Naval affairs
  5. Civil and civil engineering
  6. The bourgeois house with interior decoration
  7. The farmhouse with furnishings and equipment
  8. National house industry
  9. Presentation of the effectiveness of museums for arts and crafts
  10. Church art
  11. Objects of the arts and crafts of earlier times
  12. Contemporary visual arts
  13. Education, teaching and training

Exhibitors and visitors

Costs - entrance tickets  
Monday to Friday 1 guilder
Sunday and holiday 50 cruisers
day and day of the award ceremony
25 guilders
Weekly card 5 guilders
Season ticket for men 100 guilders
Season ticket for women 50 guilders
Catalog by J. & L. Lobmeyr for the Vienna World Exhibition

The fact that more than 35 nations were won over to participate in the world exhibition was an essential prerequisite for the success of a world exhibition. The reasons for the numerous commitments were the many trips by Archdukes Karl Ludwig and Rainer as well as the exhibition staff to the Orient as well as the excellent diplomatic contacts Schwarz-Senborns.

The western industrial nations put the presentation of economic and cultural goods in the foreground, whereby the colonies were each exhibited separately. In the case of the eastern nations, the focus was on presenting their country and seeking contact with the western nations.

Around 53,000 entrepreneurs took part in the exhibition, around 9,000 of them from Austria-Hungary . Among the Austrian companies there were still well-known industrialists such as FM Hämmerle , Ludwig Lobmeyr , Franz Wertheim and Thonet .

The German Reich viewed the Vienna World Exhibition as a German event and sponsored the participation of 8,000 German companies. France initially hesitated because of the aftermath of previous military defeats, but finally agreed and, with almost 5000 exhibitors, was number three after Austria and the German Reich.

The British government did not expect any profit from new sales markets in Vienna and was reluctant to provide support. The co-organizer Lionel Nathaniel de Rothschild therefore also financed the exhibition from private funds. The other European countries Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Spain and Portugal were poorly represented, as they also saw a weak sales market in Austria. A prerequisite for the United States' commitment was the clarification of patent law to protect the exhibitors. Austria therefore created a legal basis according to which the exhibits were protected from imitation during the exhibition period. During the exhibition, the International Patent Congress took place, which was supposed to bring about a sustainable solution. The United States basically also represented the opinion of Austria as an unproductive sales market, which is why participation was limited to a few sales items.

Russia increased its performance immensely compared to previous world exhibitions, as Tsar Alexander II promoted economic concerns. The countries of the Orient and the Far East showed their agriculture and raw materials in addition to local art. Egypt's exhibition was shaped by the viceroy Ismael Pascha's personal interest in the world exhibition. His financial support enabled a representative display of raw materials and everyday objects as well as statistical material on geography and economy, lifestyle and living culture of the Egyptian nation. The participation of Morocco and Tunisia was made possible through private funding. Persia's exhibition was supported by his Shah. Viennese companies (including Franz von Wertheim) financed the Persian Pavilion for this purpose.

The Japanese Empire , a rising economic power under the rule of the imperial Meiji period, used the world exhibition for its extensive self-expression. As early as 1872, two preliminary exhibitions were shown in Tokyo as a practical test, in which over 6000 Japanese exhibits that had been selected for the Vienna World Exhibition were presented. Own workers built small pavilions, artificial watercourses, bridges and hills in the area. Even one of the national shrines, the Temple of Kyoto, has been recreated. The Japanese produced their own exhibition catalog. This illustrated book has long been considered the most reliable source for assessing the Japanese situation in the 19th century. In 1872 an "Art and Industry Museum" was opened in Japan, which archives exhibits from the Vienna World Exhibition. This exhibition house still exists today as a state institution in northern Tokyo.

The Brazilian Empire presented a show whose meticulous preparatory work had already begun in 1868. Wilhelm Theodor von Schiefler's German translation of the geographical description of Brazil by the Brazilian writer Joaquim Manuel de Macedo was published for the World Exhibition . It was exhibited in the Industrial Palace.

The Chinese court took an interesting and noteworthy position regarding participation in the world exhibition. The emperor refused an official participation with the reference to think little of the idea of ​​the competition and the exhibition, rather he would be of the opinion that the trade was a matter of the "subordinate classes". Thanks to the initiative of the Austrian Consul General in Hong Kong, Gustav Ritter von Overbeck, a display of Chinese goods such as tea, silk fabrics, lacquerware and ivory carvings. The Museum of Ethnology and the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna have some of these exhibits ready for viewing today.

List of exhibitor countries
North American wigwam
Persian house
  • Japanese Empire
  • Chinese Empire
  • Siam ( Thailand )
  • Persia (Iran)
  • Turkey with possessions:
Viceroyalty of Egypt, Tunisia, Arabian Peninsula
Caucasus, Khiva, Turkestan
  • United States of America
  • British North America (Canada)
  • Hawaii (Sandwich Islands)
  • England with possessions:
British India , Australia, New Zealand, Ceylon, Bahama Islands, Cape Country, Jamaica, Mauritius, Queensland, Trinidad, westafr. Possessions
  • France with possessions:
    • Algeria, Tahite, French India, French Guiana, New Caledonia, West Africa, Madagascar, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Réunion, Senegal, Rear India (Cochinchina)
  • Netherlands with possessions:
Dutch East Indies (today's Indonesia), Ndl.-Guiana
German annex construction, Krupp company pavilion

The industrialist Alfred Krupp from Essen was a notable personality among the exhibitors. He knew how to use the world exhibition for his entrepreneurial self-presentation. The leading steel producer from Germany staged its exhibits in its own pavilion. With a forged cast steel block weighing 52,000 kg, Krupp surpassed all of the metallurgical products on display. He was one of the proponents of the idea of ​​a technical museum in Vienna.

The Austrian company Philipp Haas & Söhne was represented in the entrance hall of the rotunda . With their exhibited upholstery fabrics, tapestries and carpets based on designs by Prof. Storck, they represented the high point of the Austrian textile industry.

The exhibition was eagerly attended by national and international experts who left a large number of printed publications on the Vienna World Exhibition. Part of it is currently stored in the archive of the Technical Museum in Vienna.

The exhibition grounds were open all day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and from June 26th until 10 p.m.

Restaurants, beer halls and cafés were distributed throughout the exhibition grounds. A curiosity was an Indian vigil that was set up by two New York restaurant owners in a shady part of the property. Blacks, Indians and mixed race served typical American drinks there. In their own music pavilion, orchestras provided permanent musical entertainment. Johann Strauss performed the work he had composed for the world exhibition, the "Rotunda Quadrille".

Awards to the exhibitors

Stollwerck Medal Vienna 1873
The exhibits of the mining and cast steel factory in Bochum, awarded with the honorary diploma

The assessment of exhibits in an exhibition and the award of medals were very important to the exhibitors and at the same time motivated them to participate as an exhibitor. The Viennese companies Lobmeyr, Haas and Thonet established their world fame by awarding their exhibits at previous exhibitions, as did the Cologne chocolate and confectionery producer Franz Stollwerck , who was awarded a medal and appointed purveyor to the court by Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria . The international jury consisted of 956 people. For example, on August 18, 1873, the award ceremony for the honorary diplomas took place in the Winter Riding School in Vienna . The jury selected 430 companies from exhibited masterpieces from all participating nations in the field of art and industry.

A total of 25,572 medals were awarded: 8,687 medals of merit, 2,929 medals for progress, 2,162 medals for employees, 977 art medals, 310 for good taste, 10,166 recognition diplomas and 441 honorary diplomas; 6,158 of these went to Austrian exhibitors. The designs of the medals are the work of the sculptors Josef Cesar and Rudolf Weyr .

Society and politics

The exhibition was also a first-rate social event and the backdrop to political agreements. During the six months of the exhibition, 33 ruling princes, 13 heirs to the throne and 20 princes paid a visit to the Viennese court.

In addition to personalities from Austria-Hungary , such as Crown Prince Rudolf and Gyula Graf von Andrássy , Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister, there were also members of many dynasties and noble houses, including King Leopold II , King Viktor Emanuel II of Italy , Charles XV. , the Prussian Crown Prince Friedrich III , the Prussian Crown Princess Victoria , Prince Albert of Saxony , Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia , Albert Eduard, Prince of Wales with son Prince Arthur, Crown Prince Friedrich of Denmark , Prince Nicholas I of Montenegro as well as diplomats from all over World to the visitors. For the imperial family, these visits were associated with the usual ceremonial representational tasks. Even the Empress Elisabeth , who usually shied away from public appearances, fulfilled her representative duties . The Iwakura mission also visited the world exhibition and reported in detail about it.

Three emperor agreement

On June 6, 1873, the Schönbrunn Convention was concluded between Emperor Franz Joseph I and Tsar Alexander II . On the occasion of the visit of Kaiser Wilhelm I , accompanied by Reich Chancellor Count Otto von Bismarck, on October 22nd, the German Reich also joined the agreement. This contract went down in history as the three emperor agreement .

International patent congress

At the initiative of the curator Wilhelm Freiherr von Schwarz-Senborn, a congress was included in the framework program that dealt with the ongoing debate on patent protection. The International Patent Congress to discuss international patent protection took place from August 4th to 8th, 1873 . The participants justified the supranational necessity and agreed on the basis for an effective and useful patent law.

The Persian Shah in Vienna

The greatest public attraction was the visit of Naser al-Din , Shah of Persia, who accepted an invitation from the exhibition commission. 40,000 curious visitors were admitted that day. The Shah arrived with a retinue of around 60 people on July 30, 1873 in a “ Separathofzug ” at the Penzing station, where he was received with a ceremony. He was then taken to Laxenburg Castle , where he resided during his stay. There are detailed and sometimes ironic reports in historical Viennese daily newspapers about the activities of the Shah during his visit to Vienna. After his departure, he left unpaid bills in Viennese shops, especially with jewelers, since, according to a local custom, Persians never paid in host countries because they believed that this would violate hospitality. The damage to Laxenburg Castle, where the Shah and his entourage lived, was so extensive that it had to be renovated.

Photography in the world exhibition area

Catalog of the Vienna Photographers Association, 1873

The General Directorate of the Vienna World Exhibition granted a license to take photographs in the World Exhibition Center. The contracted entrepreneurs Oscar Kramer (technical director: Gustav Jägermayer ), Frankenstein & Comp (technical director: Michael Frankenstein), J. Löwy ( Josef Löwy , technical director: Max Jaffé) and György Klösz founded the “ Wiener Photographen-Association ” for this purpose ".

As early as June 8, 1872, the construction progress on the site was documented photographically. The pictures were offered for sale in a separate pavilion. The entire image production comprised around 2,200 images. These were published in 1874 in the “General Catalog of Photographic Products of the Vienna Photographers Association for the 1873 World Exhibition”. In 1874 the members separated and divided the picture inventory among themselves. 250 of these photographs are archived in the Technical Museum in Vienna.

Problems during the exhibition

The roof of the rotunda turned out to be leaky. The water kept flowing through the roof into the interior.

The work to repair the elevator in the east transept of the rotunda was only finished on October 19, 1873 and opened to traffic. This was two weeks before the end of the exhibition. During that test drive, one of the telescoping tubes burst, causing the lift to get stuck.

The role of the exhibition director Schwarz-Senborn

Wilhelm Freiherr von Schwarz-Senborn, around 1870

Wilhelm Freiherr von Schwarz-Senborn declared before the government and the Reichsrat that the exhibition could be carried out with a budget of six million guilders before there were concrete plans for the regulation and construction work. In May 1871 preparations began for the construction of the world exhibition site.

Originally planned, simple regulation work on the banks of the Danube at Wurstlprater soon led to a mammoth project and caused costs to skyrocket. In the course of this, he ruthlessly let the old stalls razed, forcing the owners to build more expensive, socially acceptable buildings. He also forbade jugglers and stallholders to conduct their business even though they had official approval from the City of Vienna. With this step, Schwarz-Senborn wanted to ensure more safety for world exhibition visitors. This was the reason for the sharpest criticism from Mayor Cajetan Felder. According to historical newspaper reports, he succeeded in driving the Viennese masses from this area and thus ruining the formerly wealthy Prater landlords. This construction work at Wurstlprater on this scale was not part of Schwarz-Senborn's area of ​​responsibility. With his absolutist management style of usurping all tasks and wanting to decide everything for himself, criticism rained from the beginning. The progress of the construction work was delayed more and more, and soon the budget was too high. The budget had to be increased to 16 million guilders after a short time. The exhibition site was a chaotic construction site long after it opened.

During the exhibition, the confusion of the entire site arrangement and the confusing lack of planning in the exhibition catalogs were criticized.

The general manager approached his work in public with ruthless confidence. As a result, the expectations of the Viennese population regarding the material aftermath of the exhibition increased to a complete certainty of victory. It was with this feeling that small entrepreneurs and industrialists made exaggerated investments in order to be able to participate as much as possible in this success. The disappointment occurred shortly after the opening. An abundance of unfortunate events, such as heavy downpours days before the opening, which turned the Prater into a swamp, the Vienna stock market crash shortly after opening and the accompanying economic crisis with countless corporate bankruptcies as well as an outbreak of cholera epidemic in the Viennese slums, lasted in the first Months away from many visitors. Even the steadily growing number of visitors from September 1873 could no longer meet sales expectations.

The role of reporting

The organizer Schwarz-Senborn didn't have to worry about ridicule (October 1873)

With the arrival of Schwarz-Senborn in Vienna and the simultaneous start of preparations in the summer of 1871, national and international daily and weekly newspapers showed intense interest in the coming world exhibition. In the years 1872 and 1873, the topic dominated the Wiener Tagblätter to a particular extent. Many newspapers regularly printed world exhibition supplements. The supplement to the “Neue Freie Presse” entitled “International Exhibition Newspaper” was published in collaboration with Schwarz-Senborn and other organizers such as Wilhelm Exner. At that time, the reporting of the daily newspapers was influenced by business considerations, i.e. the increase in circulation, and therefore had an entertaining rather than critical character.

A newspaper founded for the exhibition, the “ Wiener Weltausstellungs-Zeitung ”, provided the most extensive coverage. This was published twice a week from August 18, 1871 to the beginning of 1873 and daily from 1873 onwards. After the end of the world exhibition, it continued to appear under the name "International Exhibition Newspaper". Another medium, the “Allgemeine Illustrierte Weltausstellung-Zeitung”, was supplied with articles by renowned experts and was regarded by some foreign commissions as their official newsletter.

During the construction work, the progress of the work was reported in as much detail as later on each individual exhibition day itself. In addition to reports on exhibiting companies, descriptions of the goods and cultural assets, the numerous visitors from abroad were a popular topic. The visit of the Persian Shah and his entourage was also of particular interest. While the media could be categorized into two groups before the exhibition began, namely the exhibition-friendly papers and the opponents, the critical voices in the media have spread ever more widely since the extent of the deficit became known.

Considerations about the financing and implementation of a world exhibition were discussed especially in economically oriented newspapers, and the lack of exhibition maturity of the Austrian economy, the unfinished expansion of Vienna, the general lack of housing, the too short preparation time, the cost overrun and, last but not least, the authoritarian and arbitrary actions of General Director Schwarz -Senborn were at the center of criticism. The media treated each other with deep distrust when it came to the selection of the companies described. The journalists were accused of receiving line fees from the industry. In addition, a number of joke and caricature sheets appeared, which prepared noteworthy events around the world exhibition as a satirical . These were among others the " Flea ", the " Kikeriki " and " The Bomb ". The shortcomings of the exhibition and the Austrian bureaucratism that surrounded it were also heavily criticized in literature.

Carried away by the economic euphoria at the time before the exhibition began, there were already 866 different sheets in Cisleithanien at the time of the opening, 355 of which were published in Vienna alone. After the economic turmoil in the same year, the number fell back to the previous level of 616. The newly founded paper by the founder of the “Presse”, August Zang , “Finanzielle Fragmente” had to stop its publication after the world exhibition because of violent polemics, as it was confiscated by the Imperial and Royal Public Prosecutor's Office.

In summary, it can be said that the wealth of material in historical reporting from the present day provides an important source of clarity for the events of that time.

Conclusion of the world exhibition

Expenditures in the amount of 19,123,270 guilders were offset by 4,256,349 guilders in income from admission tickets and court rents. The deficit financed from the state treasury was thus 14,866,921 guilders.

20 million visitors were expected, but only 7.25 million visited the world exhibition. November 2nd was the last and at the same time the most visited day of the World's Fair with 139,037 people.

Short term and sustainable effects

During the period of the exhibition, the Austrian, German, French and English newspapers repeatedly reported of exorbitantly high prices for private room rentals, hoteliers, restaurants and everyday goods. The author of the weekly column “Feuilleton” in the “Wiener Sonn- und Mondags Zeitung” on May 4, 1873 reports about a Fiaker who charged 40 guilders for the trip to the World Exhibition. He remembers that he took one on his tour of the exhibition Menu a "Backhuhn" to have discovered about 120 guilders.

Development of Vienna

Hotel Metropol , built for the 1873 World's Fair
The new Augarten Bridge , opened in 1873

The exhibition had a lasting influence on the urbanization process in Vienna . In order to cope with the expected number of visitors, the railway network was expanded to more than double its length from 1868 to 1873. In 1859–1865 the north station was rebuilt at the Praterstern , which became logistically important for the exhibition structure; a branch line was led directly into the exhibition grounds. Trains from the west, south and east lines could also be led directly to the north station via the connecting line (today's rapid transit line ).

The transport network was expanded in the entire area: From the Praterstern, the exhibition street so named in 1872 (from May 1, 1873, the Viennese horse-drawn tramway line ; since 2008, the underground line U2 has been running down below the street) led straight to the exhibition grounds; its main portal was accessible from the Prater-Hauptallee through the Kaiserallee leading to the rotunda (that's the name to this day), near which the terminus of another horse-drawn tramway line was set up. The north, north-west and Franz-Josefs-Bahnhof were connected by another tram line on May 1, 1873. From the north of the old town, the new Augarten Bridge, opened to traffic on June 6, 1873, took the place of an old wooden bridge in the 2nd district.

Another decision made by city policy in preparation for the World Exhibition in 1868 was the first Danube regulation , implemented in 1870–1875 , to prevent flooding in the suburbs and in the Prater. The new bed of the main river of the Danube, to the northeast just next to the exhibition site, was not put into operation until 1875, but it was already marked as finished on the plans of the site. The newly created right bank edge (today Handelskai and Donauuferbahn ) protected the area from flooding. In the year of the world exhibition, passenger shipping still took place on today's Old Danube , the main stream at that time, and in the Danube Canal (see below).

During the world exhibition, on October 24th, the first Viennese high spring water pipeline , which it was decided to build due to repeated diseases caused by polluted water, was ceremoniously opened by Emperor Franz Joseph I at the high jet fountain at Schwarzenbergplatz .

The exhibition area was developed with driveways and generous parking spaces. Street names such as exhibition street, Perspektivstraße, Rotundenallee, access street, Südportalstraße and Nordportalstraße still indicate this today. In the Prater, old, desolate stalls were razed and replaced by new houses. In the Kärntner Straße , the main street of the old town, in 1872 the local government provided a durable, noise-dampening road surface made of "bituminous limestone" in order to offer an attractive, metropolitan cityscape. This asphalt pavement was the first successful attempt to create a permanent road surface.

The Austrian Danube Steamship Company opened a liner service with six “steam buses” on the Danube Canal . These ran from the Sophienbrücke (today's Rotundenbrücke) and from the Karlskettensteg via Nussdorf upstream to Korneuburg . Due to lack of profitability, this connection was discontinued after the end of the world exhibition. The same fate befell the Leopoldsbahn and some tram lines in the Prater, which were built for the world exhibition.

Overall, the building boom that began in Vienna with the demolition of the city wall in 1858 and the construction of Vienna's Ringstrasse opened in 1865 continued unabated in connection with the world exhibition project. Some projects, such as the regulation of the Danube (see above) or the construction of the Kahlenbergbahn on Vienna's scenic mountain, could only be completed after 1873. In any case, the world exhibition year contributed significantly to the accelerated development of Vienna into an international metropolis of the industrial age.

Contacts and trade relations

The exposition of the countries of the Orient and the Far East was a first and quite successful attempt to convey a lively picture of the country, culture and economic goods. During the world exhibition, there was a lively exchange between the participating nations, and numerous trade contacts were established during this time.

Museum foundations

Schwarz-Senborn founded the "Athaneum" in 1872 with the support of Archduke Rainer. Schwarz-Senborn had entire arts and crafts collections collected for his institute to investigate raw materials and processing methods. The two communications from the Athenaeum contain extensive lists of all donations, books and samples, including 13 collections presented at the world exhibition, some of which were given by private collectors. On the one hand, a building in Gumpendorfer Strasse was to be adapted as a training and exhibition building; on the other hand, a wooden building from the exhibition and the Russian Imperial Pavilion were donated to the Athenaeum, which were to be used for the institute. After Schwarz-Senborn was posted to the USA, the Athenaeum was dissolved.

After the end of the world exhibition, there were disputes between Wilhelm Schwarz-Senborn, the Lower Austrian Trade Association, Trade Minister Anton von Banhans and other parties involved about the future use of the exhibits. The "Niederösterreichische Gewerbeverein" with Wilhelm Exner as exhibition expert prepared the establishment of the Technological Trade Museum for a long time . The exhibits of the "Athaneum" were originally planned in the exhibition concept. Exner sought cooperation with Trade Minister Anton von Banhans and managed to transfer the objects left over from the exhibition to the collection of the trade museum.

On the occasion of the additional exhibition, the idea of ​​founding an Austrian museum for technical developments and inventions was put forward. Wilhelm Exner and Franz Migerka, who were involved in the organization of the world exhibition, as well as other committed exhibition participants, such as the industrialist Arthur Krupp, were among the driving forces behind the implementation of this idea. In 1918 the Technical Museum for Industry and Commerce opened in Vienna.

Due to the valuable, established cultural relationships with the oriental exhibiting countries, the "Comité for the Orient and East Asia" was established in the pavilion Cercle Oriental of Emil Hardt in the oriental department of the world exhibition. During the world exhibition, the members already collected raw materials, trade goods and art objects from the East Asian region. In 1874 the Comité founded the "Oriental Museum" and incorporated the collection into the holdings. The Oriental Museum was renamed the " Austrian Trade Museum" in 1886 . When its director Arthur von Scala left in 1897 to take over the management of the “Museum for Art and Industry” (now the Museum for Applied Arts ), a large part of the collection changed hands with him. Since then, the trade museum has increasingly concentrated on trade contacts. In 1898 the facility was expanded to include an “Export Academy”. In 1907, oriental and handicraft goods were transferred to the “Museum of Art and Industry”, the “Anthropological-Ethnographic Department of the Imperial and Royal Natural History Museum” (today “Weltmuseum Wien”) and the “Technical Museum Vienna ”. When the Export Academy was dissolved in 1922, the remaining collection of goods was transferred to the "University for World Trade" of today's "Vienna University of Economics".

Further use of the site

Messe Wien, west side
Southern Art Pavilion in 2009

Shortly after the end of the world exhibition, the demolition of the building had already begun. The rotunda, the machine hall and the northern and southern pavilions for art remained for the time being. The machine hall was used as a warehouse. A newspaper article from 1923 reports on the two art pavilions that are used as studios. The northern pavilion was destroyed in World War II and rebuilt with a modified facade. The southern pavilion has been preserved to this day, and both are used as federal sculpture studios. The building in need of renovation is located between the Krieau harness racing track , which opened in 1878, and the Ernst Happel Stadium . The elevation known today as Constantine Hill was created from excavated material during the construction phase.

After the exhibition, the rotunda could not be demolished as originally planned for financial reasons, which is why it was still used for commercial events and exhibitions. After 64 years of use, the rotunda fell victim to a major fire on September 17, 1937.

The Krieau trotting track opened in 1878 on the south-eastern third of the world exhibition site .

The north-western two-thirds of the world exhibition site was used as the exhibition center by Messe Wien from 1921 to around 2000 and was heavily visited for decades, primarily due to the regular spring and autumn fairs (general fairs without a specific topic). Various companies have set up their own pavilions on the site. By 2004, four new exhibition halls and a trade fair and congress center were built on the northern third, owned by the municipal exhibition holding company, with funds from the City of Vienna (approx. 190 million euros). Reed Messen, an international trade fair operator, are now responsible for the display as the lessee; Since 2008, the new Messe Wien has been accessible via the Messe-Prater and Krieau underground stations .

After four years of construction, the new campus of the Vienna University of Economics was opened on the western third in 2013 . In 2015, the new Sigmund Freud University building was opened on the westernmost section of the former site .

The great crossroads of the former southern entrance to the rotunda and the exhibition grounds, the Imperial Avenue, with the bounding the southern edge of the WU-terrain Südportalstraße is since about 2007 maps, also on the electronic city office, as Rotundenplatz referred.


  • Friedrich Bömches (Ed.): Report on the world exhibition in 1873 . Self-published by the coastal exhibition commission, printing house of the Austro-Hungarian Lloyd , Trieste 1874 ( online version )
  • Friedrich Pecht : Art and the art industry at the Vienna World Exhibition 1873 , Cotta, Stuttgart 1873
  • Exhibit world. Vienna scene in 1873 . Editor Technisches Museum Wien, contributions by: Ulrike Felber, Manuela Fellner-Feldhaus and Elke Krasny German / English, ISBN 3-902183-10-1 .
  • Jutta Pemsel: The Vienna World Exhibition of 1873 . Böhlau Verlag, Vienna / Cologne 1989, ISBN 3-205-05247-1 .
  • Anna Minichberger: The Japanese lacquer work of the Vienna World Exhibition in the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts . Diploma thesis University of Vienna, Vienna 2007 ( online version )
  • Carl von Lützow (Ed.): Arts and crafts at the Vienna World Exhibition 1873 . EA Seemann, Leipzig 1875. ( online version )
  • Official exhibition report . Published by the General Direction of the Vienna World Exhibition 1873 (online version)
  • Mechanical engineering and transportation . Reprinted from the official report on the Vienna World Exhibition 1873, Vieweg, 1874 (online version)
  • Catalog for the Swiss section of the 1873 World's Fair . 1873 (online version)
  • Paul Pantzer (Ed.): The Iwakura Mission. The log of Kume Kunitake about the visit of the Japanese special embassy to Germany, Austria and Switzerland in 1873. Iudicium, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-89129-746-7 .
  • Hedvig Ujvári: Between the bazaar and world politics. The Vienna World Exhibition of 1873 in the feature pages of Max Nordau in “Pester Lloyd” (= History. Volume 17). Frank & Timme, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-86596-336-9 .
  • Wolfgang Kos, Ralph Gleis (Hrsg.): Experiment Metropole - 1873: Vienna and the world exhibition. Wien Museum, Czernin Verlag, Vienna 2014, ISBN 978-3-7076-0475-7 .

Contemporary newspapers

  • Vienna World Exhibition Newspaper. Central organ for the World's Fair in 1873 (August 18, 1871 to December 31, 1873)
    • International Exhibition Newspaper (January 4, 1874 to November 19, 1875) (online version)
  • International Exhibition Newspaper (supplement to the Neue Freie Presse) (May 1 to September 30, 1873) (online version)

Web links

Commons : World's Fair 1873  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e world exhibit. Vienna scene in 1873 . Publisher Technisches Museum Wien, ISBN 3-902183-10-1 , p. 55ff.
  2. Weekly of the Niederösterreichischer Gewerbe-Verein, XXIX, year 1868, p. 232
  3. RGBl. No. 87/1871 (= p. 228)
  4. ^ Wiener Weltausstellung-Zeitung, August 18, 1871, p. 4
  5. ^ Current use of the house
  6. a b c d e f g Jutta Pemsel: The Vienna World Exhibition of 1873. Böhlau Verlag, Vienna / Cologne 1989, chapter: Preparations, ISBN 3-205-05247-1 , p. 15 ff.
  7. Across land and sea. Vol. 15, 30th Bank, No. 34, 1873, p. 672, biography of Dr. Julius Hirsch.
  8. RGBl. No. 45/1873 (= p. 198)
  9. ^ Jutta Pemsel: The Vienna World Exhibition of 1873: The Wilhelminian Vienna at the turning point . Böhlau Verlag, Vienna / Cologne 1989, ISBN 3-205-05247-1 , p. 40f.
  10. a b c d world exhibit. Schauplatz Wien 1873 , chapter: Vienna becomes a cosmopolitan city, publisher Technisches Museum Wien, ISBN 3-902183-10-1 , pp. 83ff.
  11. ^ W. Schwabe, The Engineer Section of the World Exhibition 1873 and its tasks , magazine of the Austrian Association of Engineers and Architects, Issue XXVI, 1874, p. 275.
  12. W. Schwabe, The Engineer Section of the 1873 World's Fair and its tasks. In: Journal of the Austrian Association of Engineers and Architects, Issue XXVI, 1874, p. 286.
  13. ^ Adolf Dillinger, August von Conraths, guide and souvenir album of the Vienna World Exhibition 1873 , Vienna, not dated
  14. ^ Wiener Zeitung, May 2, 1873, p. 2.
  15. ^ "Official exhibition report, published by the General Directorate of the World Exhibition in 1873," Vienna 1874, KK Hof und Staatsdruckerei
  16. Wolfgang Piersig, An excursus through the most important world exhibitions from 1851 to 2005. GRIN Verlag 2008, ISBN 978-3-638-89274-2 , p. 51.
  17. Study by Hedvig Ujvári, p. 6. (PDF file; 292 kB)
  18. a b Irmgard Wirtz, Josef Roths Fiktion des Faktischen , Erich Schmidt Verlag, 1997, ISBN 3-503-03761-6 , p. 234.
  19. a b c d e f g h i j Jutta Pemsel, The Vienna World Exhibition of 1873 , Chapter: Great Event World Exhibition, Böhlau Verlag, Vienna / Cologne 1989, ISBN 3-205-05247-1 , p. 41f.
  20. Diploma thesis Anna Minichberger, University of Vienna (PDF; 9 MB)
  21. ^ Directory of the world exhibition literature, in: No. 1 of the "Negotiations of the Imperial Geological Institute of January 7, 1874". P. 92 f.
  22. a b world exhibit. Schauplatz Wien 1873. Chapter: Photographic scene of the world exhibition, publisher Technisches Museum Wien, ISBN 3-902183-10-1 , p. 11ff.
  23. ^ New Free Press, August 18, 1873
  24. ^ Official directory of exhibitors who have received awards from the international jury, 1873, p. 1.
  25. Illustrirte Zeitung No. 1520 of August 17, 1872, p. 117 (fig.), P. 118
  26. Study by Hedvig Ujvári, p. 8. (PDF file; 292 kB)
  27. ^ Wiener Zeitung, April 30, 1873
  28. ^ Margit Seckelmann: Industrialization, internationalization and patent law in the German Empire 1871–1914. ISBN 3-465-03488-0 , p. 151ff.
  29. Study by Hedvig Ujvári (PDF file; 292 kB)
  30. ^ Wiener Zeitung, July 31, 1873, Digital Reading Room Österr. National Library
  31. ^ Newspaper "Der Floh" from August 3, 1873, reading room Österr. National Library
  32. Welt Ausstellen - Schauplatz Wien 1873 , accessed on February 22, 2009.
  33. ^ "The Flea", May 17, 1783
  34. ^ Neue Freie Presse, October 20, 1873.
  35. ^ Wiener Sonn- und Mondagszeitung, November 3, 1873
  36. ^ Illustrated Wiener Extrablatt, May 28, 1873; Max Eyth: The bridge over the Ennobucht . Print on demand, ISBN 978-3-8424-6830-6 , p. 35f.
  37. ^ Die Neue Presse of November 3, 1873
  38. ^ Study by Hedvig Ujvári, p. 5ff. (PDF file; 292 kB)
  39. ^ Wiener Sonn- und Mondags Zeitung, May 4, 1873
  40. ^ Official daily newspaper Wiener Zeitung , Vienna, October 23, 1873, p. 1.
  41. ^ Foundation letter of the Imperial and Royal Lower Austrian Lieutenancy of March 30, 1872, in: Wilhelm Schwarz-Senborn: Das Athenaeum. A trade museum and training institute in Vienna, First Communication, Vienna 1873, p. 3f.
  42. ^ Wilhelm Schwarz-Senborn (ed.): The Athenaeum. A trade museum and training institute in Vienna, Second Communication, Vienna 1874.
  43. ^ Rudolf Mannhard: Schwarz-Senborn Wilhelm Frh. Von. In: Austrian Biographical Lexicon 1815–1950, Volume 12, Austrian Academy of Sciences (ed.), Vienna 2005, p. 10f.
  44. a b world exhibit. Vienna scene in 1873 . Publisher Technisches Museum Wien, ISBN 3-902183-10-1 , p. 76ff.
  45. K. k. Austrian Trade Museum (Hrsg.): The Imperial and Royal Austrian Trade Museum. 1875-1900. Vienna 1900, p. 2f.
  46. ^ Oriental Museum (ed.): Program for the establishment of an "Oriental Museum in Vienna". Vienna no year
  47. Jutta Pemsel, The Vienna World Exhibition of 1873 , Chapter: Review. Böhlau Verlag, Vienna / Cologne 1989, ISBN 3-205-05247-1 , pp. 75ff.
  48. ^ Ferdinand Neureiter: Dedication, in: Die kk Exportakademie in Wien, Verlag der kk Exportakademie, Vienna 1916, pp. 7-10.
  49. ^ Handelsmuseum in Wien (ed.): The Handelsmuseum in Wien. Presentation of its founding and development from 1874–1919. Vienna 1919.
  50. The Viennese product collection - origin and meaning. Final report. Vienna 2012, ed. by: Forschungsverein für Warenlehre, series: Wahre Ware . ISSN  2307-583X
  51. ^ "New Free Press" of May 2, 1923.