(Pictures you can see by clicking on the link at the end of page!)
Empire Bridge, seen from the north bank of
Use motor vehicles in the basement underground,
Road train Lassallestraße – Wagramerstraße (B8 )
Location Vienna, between Leopoldstadt (2nd District)
and Danube City (22 nd District)
Prestressed concrete bridge construction, double deck bridge
Total length 865 meters
Width 26.10 meters
Release 8 November 1980
Altitude 157 m above sea level. A.
Location of the Empire Bridge in Vienna
The Empire Bridge is one of Vienna’s most famous bridges. It crosses the Danube, the Danube Island and the New Danube and connects the second District of Vienna, Leopoldstadt, with the 22nd District, Danube city. The building extends from Mexico place at Handelskai (2nd district) in a northeasterly direction to the Danube City and the Vienna International Centre (District 22).
The current kingdom bridge (Reichsbrücke) was opened in 1980, it is the third crossing of the Danube in the same axis, which bears the name kingdom bridge. The first Empire Bridge (also: Crown Prince Rudolf bridge when Project: National Highway Bridge), an iron bridge on current five pillars existed from 1876 until 1937. The second Empire Bridge, a chain bridge with two 30-meter high pylons on two river piers, was opened in 1937, it was next to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Giant Ferris one of the landmarks of the city of Vienna. After the Second World War it was the only intact Danube river crossing downstream of Linz in Austria and became the busiest stretch of road in Austria. On Sunday, the first August 1976 the bridge collapsed in the early morning hours on full width of the Danube into the water. In the accident, which was not foreseeable by the then state of the art, one person was killed. The meaning and emotional charge, which had received the bridge by its colorful past in the Viennese population, increased further by the collapse.
The Danube before regulation (centric is the location of the Reichsbrücke marked)
Some years after the devastating flood of 1830 was considering Emperor Ferdinand I to regulate the Danube and at the same time to build several bridges over the resulting stream bed. The plan was, among other things, a chain bridge approximately at the site of today’s Empire bridge, whose construction costs were estimated at two to three million florins. However, these plans came as well as future intentions, build stable bridges over the unregulated Danube, before the Vienna Danube regulation not for execution, the projects went not beyond the planning stage. All bridges over the Danube, whether for road or since 1838 for the Northern Railway, then had rather provisional character. Jochbrücken Those were trestle bridges made of wood, which were regularly swept away by floods or Eisstößen (bumps of ice chunks) and then re-built.
On 12 September 1868 eventually ordered Emperor Franz Joseph I, the nephew and successor of Ferdinand, the regulation of the Danube. At the same time, eventually, should be built "stable bridges". One of them should represent a direct extension of the hunter line (Jägerzeile) (today: Prater Road and the Schwimmschulstraße (now Lassallestraße). With the choice of this location a central urban axis should be continued, which ranged from the Gloriette in Schonbrunn over St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Prater Stern to the Danube. On the other side of the Danube, the bridge should join to the Vienna, Kagraner and Leopold Auer Reichsstrasse (since 1910 Wagramerstraße), which became a major transit route in the northeastern areas of the monarchy. The name of the bridge was accordingly to "Empire Road bridge" set.
First Reichsbrücke – 1876-1937
Crown Prince Rudolf bridge
Since 6 November 1919 : Reichsbrücke
Crown Prince Rudolf bridge since 6 November 1919: Reichsbrücke
Official name of Crown Prince Rudolf Bridge (1876-1919), since then Reichsbrücke
Use vehicles, trams (from 26 June 1898 on the current bridge single track) and pedestrian
crossing of Handelskai, Danube and floodplain
Construction iron lattice structures (river bridge), 341.20 meters
Total length 1019.75 meter (incl. bridge over Handelskai and floodplain)
Width 11.40 meters
Release 21 August 1876
Closure 11 October 1937
Toll 32 cruisers and 64 Heller per vehicle (up to 1904)
The by Franz Joseph commissioned bridge, which the main part of the 2nd district after the regulation of the Danube with the on the left bank lying part of the city Kaisermuehlen, the now Old Danube and the to 1890/1892 independent community of Kagran connected, was navigable from August 1876 to October, 1937. It has been renamed several times: During the construction period it had the preliminary name of Empire Road bridge, after its opening, it was Crown Prince Rudolf bridge. The term "Empire Bridge" but soon won through in general usage, as was said, for example, the stop of the Donauuferbahn (Railway) at the bridge officially Kommunalbad-Reichsbrücke. After the fall of the monarchy on 6 November 1919 it was officially renamed Empire bridge.
With a total length of nearly 1,020 feet, it was at that time the longest bridge connection over the Danube. It was 11.40 meters wide, the road took 7.60 meters and 3.80 meters, the two sidewalks. The original plan had provided a total width of eight fathoms (15.20 meters), the Parliament decided shortly before the start of the construction to reduce the width because of cost reasons.
The bridge consisted of three parts. The so-called Hubertusdamm, protected the March field against flood, and the flood area created in the Danube regulation (inundation) on the north, the left bank of the river was spanned by a stone, 432 meters long inundation bridge, which consisted of 16 sheets of 23 and 39 m width. Handelskai on the southern right bank of the river spanned the so-called Kaibrücke of stone with a length of 90.4 meters and four arches, each 18.96 m width. The actual current bridge was 341.20 meters long and consisted of four individual iron grating structures that rested on five 3.80 meter thick pillars, three of which were in the water. The distance of each pillar was 79.90 meters.
The current bridge seen from the north, from the left bank (St Stephen’s Cathedral in the background); recording before the summer of 1898, there’s no tram track
Construction began in August, 1872. Although at that time the stream bed of the Danube had already been largely completed, but not yet flooded. The Empire bridge was then, as the northern railway bridge Stadlauer Bridge and the Emperor Franz Joseph Bridge (later Floridsdorfer bridge), built in dry construction.
The building was designed by the Road and Hydraulic Engineering Department of Imperial Ministry of Interior, whose boss, Undersecretary Mathias Waniek Ritter von Domyslow, was entrusted with the construction management. Total construction cost of 3.7 million guilders. The metal construction had a total weight of 2,193 tons and was manufactured by Schneider & Co in Burgundy of Belgian welding iron.
The two piers on the banks were about five feet below the river bed, which is about eleven meters founded under the riverbed on so-called "blue Viennese Tegel" (a stiff to semi-solid floor similar to the clay which as sedimentary rock is typical for the Vienna basin). The pillars of the two foreland bridges (Kaibrücke and inundation bridge ) were established in shallow coarse gravel.
Of the four Danube bridges built at that time only the kingdom bridge (Reichsbrücke) was not opened to traffic when the new bed of the Danube on 14 April 1875 was flooded. Until 16 months later, on 21 August 1876, the birthday of the Crown Prince Rudolf, opened the Imperial Governor of Lower Austria , Baron Conrad of Sigmund Eybesfeld, representing the emperor, the bridge and gave her in honor of Crown Prince – contrary to the original plan – the name "Crown Prince Rudolf bridge". The opening ceremony was attended by a delegation from Japan, Minister of War Feldzeugmeister Graf Maximilian von Artur Bylandt-Rheidt and mayor of Vienna Cajetan Felder. The governor read a royal resolution, in which Franz Joseph announced the full imperial satisfaction with Oberbauleiter Waniek and several Engineers and Building Officers were awarded the Imperial Knights Cross. As highlight of the celebration the keystone of the last pillar of the ramp was set – under it were built into a cassette several documents, photos of the bridge, coins and medals.
The Kaibrücke over the Handelskai on the south, the right bank of the Danube, recording c. 1907
The bridge ramp and the four brick arches over the Handels on the south, the right bank of the Danube, it ( right) the bridge over the stream, recording from 1876
After the suicide of Crown Prince Rudolf in 1889, the bridge was popularly called "suicide bridge ". It was in the first years of its operation still not a very popular crossing of the Danube. Industry and trade settled slowly to the other side of the Danube. There were also no significant trade routes from north to March Field. Via the Old Danube, which it would have to be crossed, leading to around 1900 only a rickety wooden bridge.
In the first 28 years of its operation, the crossing of the Empire Bridge was charged. 32 cruisers and 64 Heller had to be paid per vehicle, which has been regularly criticized by newspapers in Vienna. Only after the villages north of the Old Danube in the year 1904/1905 than 21st district were incorporated, the crossing was provided free of charge and increased the popularity of the bridge. From 26 June 1898, the bridge was frequented by the tram. The occasion was the 50-year Jubilee of Emperor Franz Joseph. The route went (over the current bridge (Strombrücke) just single track ) for the moment to shooting range (Schießstätte) at Arbeiterstrandbadstraße and was on 22 December 1898 extended until Kagraner place. Operator was the Vienna-Kagraner train (WKB), which initially used for six railcars acquired from Hamburg. In 1904, the traffic operation of Vienna-Street Railways WKB.
The end of the bridge
1910 were counted in Vienna over two million inhabitants. On the left, northern bank of the Danube, more and more settlements and commercial enterprises emerged. This increased both the importance and the traffic on the Empire Bridge. Neither the load nor the total roadway width of less than eight meters were sufficient for this additional burden. 1930 damage was discovered at the bridge, which would have necessitated the refurbishment in the near future. In recent years, their stock weight restrictions has been to protect the bridge. Vienna’s city government first planned a conversion of the old kingdom bridge. In 1933, under the federal government of Dollfuss a new building was disposed.
During the three years of construction work had the old bridge remain usable – ie the existing 340 meters long by 4,900-ton Strombrücke was there moved by 26 meters downstream in September 1934, and connected with the banks. The move operation lasted only six hours, the traffic interruption to the reusability lasted three days. The suspended bridge was then three years in operation. Immediately after the opening of its successor bridge it was dismantled.
Second Empire Bridge – 1937-1976
The second Empire Bridge, circa 1975
Official name Reichsbrücke, from 11 April 1946 to 18 July 1956 the Red Army Bridge
Use private transport (2 lanes next to the tracks, 2 on the tracks), tram (2 tracks in the middle position), pedestrians (sidewalks 2)
Construction through the air: "Spurious" self-anchored chain bridge with reversed horizontal thrust); broadening of the inundation bridge used since 1876
Total length 1225 meters
Width 26.90 meters (including sidewalks)
Longest span 241.2 meters in the central opening, 60.05 and 61.05 meters in the side openings
Construction September 1934
Release 10 October 1937
Closure 1 August 1976 (collapse)
The second realm bridge had a total length of 1255 meters. The current bridge had a length of 373 meters and a maximum span length of 241.2 meters, the construction of the third largest chain bridge in Europe. It had two pylons made of steel with a height of 30 meters above road top, standing on two piers and with the bridge superstructure burd two steel chains carrying.
The bridge was staged as a symbol of the wealth and size of Vienna. So it was yet in the late 1930s next to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Giant Ferris emblem for the third city of Vienna declared and served as an internationally used symbol on all promotional literature and invitations to the Vienna Exhibition in 1938.
First, the Commerce Department announced a precompetitive, although that could win the architects Emil Hoppe and Otto Schonthal, the result of which, however, did not correspond with the Ministry and the City of Vienna. The final competition for the construction of the Empire Bridge was finally announced in Spring 1933 and awarded in November. As architectural advisor to the eight-member jury acted the architect Clemens Holzmeister. The jurors selected from 64 submitted, one of which even provided for a tunnel under the river Danube. The winning project was a chain bridge by architects Siegfried Theiss and Hans Jaksch. This design provided only two pillars standing in the water. Three quarters of the full width of the river should be free spans. The bridge would connect directly to the still-to-use, only to be widened inundation bridge of the first Empire bridge over floodplain and Hubertusdamm.
Construction began on 26 February 1934, two weeks after the civil war-like battles in February. The cost of 24 million shillings were imposed to one third of the city of Vienna, two-thirds came from the federal budget. There were only Austrian companies involved in the construction. The two pillars were erected in caisson construction.
Soon the first difficulties appeared. The ground, especially in the Danube River, on which the bridge piers and anchor blocks for the chains should be founded, proved to be less viable than the planners had anticipated. It was originally planned to have to shoulder a large part of the weight of the Strombrücke, primarily of the area lying between the pillars middle part of the bridge, of two chains that run on both sides of the two pylons and should be anchored right in the river on heavy, solid anchor blocks of concrete. However, it was feared that this abutment on the Danube soft soil by the large tensile forces of 78.5 million N (8,000 t) per chain would start sliding and could not be adequately anchored in the Danube ground.
Professor Paul Fillunger of the Technical University of Vienna became the largest public critic of the building. He was of the opinion that not only the foundation of the anchor blocks, but also the pillars of the Danube in the soft ground was irresponsible because the bridge would not have the necessary stability. Contrasting opinion was his colleague of professors, soil mechanics Karl von Terzaghi. In his view, the nature of the Danube soil was suitable for the pier foundation. The disagreement was part of a personal feud, which was publicly held. Together with his wife Fillunger took in 1937 due to a disciplinary procedure that ran against him at the Technical University of Vienna his life. The construction of the bridge was rescheduled after the proposals Terzaghis: the chains were not fastened to anchor blocks on the Danube ground, but directly to the two main girders of the steel supporting structure, ie on the bridge itself anchored.
In June 1936, the building was overshadowed by a shipwreck: the people steamer "Vienna" DDSG was driven to a pillar. The ship broke up and sank immediately. Six people were killed.
The final link in the chain was composed of 98 members on 16 November 1936 inserted. Thereafter the lowering of the support stand began to displace the chain in tension. The production of the concrete deck slab of the bridge deck and the installation of sidewalks followed in the spring of 1937, in the summer, the bridge was painted dark green.
From 1 to 3 October 1937 the stress test of the building took place in the stretched chains and the pylons were slightly rotated. Were then driven as a load test 84 trucks and 28 loaded with stones streetcars on the bridge and left to stand there for a few hours. All measurements were running satisfactorily, so that on 4 October the first tram of line number 16 was able to drive over the kingdom bridge. A day later, the bridge was unofficially released for streetcar traffic. To traffic it remained locked up to its opening.
A labor-and cost-intensive project such as the construction of the bridge was fully in line with the spirit of the Austro-fascist regime: the end of 1933, unemployment stood at 38.5 percent. The construction of the second Empire bridge can therefore be seen as a job creation project, similar to the construction of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road or the Vienna High Road.
On 10 October 1937, the Empire Bridge was officially opened. The corporate state government held a solemn state ceremony with President Wilhelm Miklas, Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg, Cardinal Theodor Innitzer, the Vienna Vice Mayor Fritz Lahr and Trade Minister Taucher who called the new Reich bridge as a "symbol of creating life force of the new Austria". Present were alongside architects, project managers and designers also a delegation of the opus "New Life" of the Fatherland Front, all workers involved in the construction of the construction companies and 10,000 school children. Soldiers of the armed forces lined the shore.
The Viennese city researcher Peter Payer writes about the pompous production:
"Conspicuously, propagated the carefully staged celebration the new model of society of the Austro-fascist government: the ending of the class struggle and overcoming social barriers through meaningful work and cooperation of all professional groups. [ …] The completion of the bridge was portrayed as unprecedented cultural achievement, as a joint work of all involved". – Peter Payer.
The event was broadcast live on the radio, the newspapers reported widely about it. At the event, postcards, envelopes, and a commemorative stamp was issued and even a "Reichsbrücke song "composed, in which was said:
"A thousand hammers, wheels, files,
thousand hands had to rush
the great work that was!
Salvation of the work that connects,
Hail to the work, healing our land!"
– Empire Bridge Song
The Empire Bridge in the Second World War
During the Second World War the German army used two support pillars of reinforced concrete under the Empire Bridge into the Danube, so that the building would not completely fall into the water when it was hit, but could be repaired. In addition, at each of the two pylons were erected platforms for anti-aircraft guns.
In early April, 1945, in the last days of the war, Soviet armies were moving from the south and west heading to the city center. The fleeing units of the SS blew up in their retreat to the north gradually almost all Vienna Danube bridges.
For the Nordwestbahnbrücke, the Floridsdorfer bridge and the Nordbahnbrücke the "defenders" of Vienna had by Hitler’s headquarters on the 8th April 1945 sought the permission for demolition, the Stadlauer Ostbahnbrücke was also blown up without explicit permission. With the Reichsbrücke, however, Hitler had personally for days the blasting ruled out, still yet at 11 April 1945, just on 13 April afternoon allowed, at a time when the southern bridgehead was already occupied by the Red Army, was the northern bridgehead without coverage in their field of fire and the German troops who had retreated to the left bank of the Danube, north west withdrew, for not beeing closed in by the Red Army. There was therefore no chance to blow. The Red Army occupied the evening of the 13th April also the northern bridgehead.
On 11 April, at the height of the battle of Vienna, the Russian troops with armored boats already had been advanced on the Danube to the Reichsbrücke (officially called by the Russians "Object 56") and had obscured the area. They went on the right bank of the Danube, about 500 meters northwest of the bridge, on land and moved slowly to the building.
Decades later, it was unclear why exactly the Empire bridge was not blown up. The Red Army, the Austrian resistance movement O5 as well as members of the armed forces later claimed they just would have prevented the explosion. One version said that, at the Battle of 11 April some soldiers of the Red Army should have gotten to the beachhead, where they destroyed the explosive lines. Another version was that Red Army soldiers were led by a knowledgeable local Vienna sewer worker sneaked through the sewer system of Vienna to the bridge to prevent the demolition. Clarity created in 2012 the analysis of historical sources with the résumé. Ultimately, it was Hitler himself which had prevented demolition of the bridge until the last moment. The Reichsbrücke was now the only intact bridge crossing over the Danube between Linz and the state border. She was thus given a status symbol, it was a sign of the resilience of Austria.
The city council renamed the Empire Bridge on the anniversary of the liberation of Vienna on 11 April 1946 in honor of the liberators "Bridge of the Red Army Bridge". Was also on this occasion by the city government to the left of the bridge driveway in the 2nd district an obelisk (reddish colored lightweight concrete on wood construction) erected with the Soviet Star on the top of which was in German and Russian to read:
"THE HERO WILL
LANDING GUARD SQUAD
– Obelisk, then plaque on the bridge
The obelisk was removed after 1955. The inscription was then attached on a bronze plaque that was mounted directly to the bridge. The bridge was at 18 July 1956 re-named Reichsbrücke.
Reichsbrücke in the postwar period
To the rebuilding of Floridsdorfer bridge 1946 the Reichsbrücke was the only way to reach Vienna coming from the northeast on the road. Although it was not blown up, it still suffered numerous losses, primarily by shellfire. In 1946, took place the first rehabilitation of war damage of the bridge, from May 1947 work on a larger scale was made. Thereby five hanging rods have been mended and repaired the vault of the inundation bridge. The smoke control ceiling above the Donauuferbahn has been replaced. At seven chain links had to be renewed a total of 26 blades. For this temporary piers were used on barges, which again ate on the river bed. The work was finished in 1952. On the Reichsbrücke originally was wooden heel patch installed, this was 1958-1960 replaced by granite stone pavement, which resulted in an additional load of 4688 kN for each pylon bearing. The enormous, newly ascended individual traffic led more often hinder the tram traffic on the bridge, therefore the tracks in the sixties by blocking lines have been declared not approved for individual traffic of the roadway. Now, congestion of vehicular traffic was the result.
Empire bridge collapse in 1976
The southern, right after the collapse of the banks, recording August 1976
Bridge debris on the north, left bank, recording August 1976
On Sunday, the first August 1976 Reichsbrücke 4:53 to 4:55 clock crashed to almost full length of the main bridge into the water. The first radio announcement was made at 5:00 clock. An eyewitness described the collapse as". The whole bridge has suddenly lifted a foot and then dropped loud crashing on the entire length".
On the Kaibrücke as well as on the Überschwemmungsbrücke (inundation bridge) the carrier collapsed in several places, but both bridges were standing. The Strombrücke itself broke into three parts, the middle part falling into the water as a whole and and the two outer parts obliquely hanging into the water. The south-facing pylon fell downstream and damaged heavily the stern of a passenger ship, the north side pylon collapsed in the other direction on the flood plain.
At the time of the collapse, five people were in four vehicles on the bridge: a bus driver in an urban articulated, two employees of the ÖAMTC in a roadside assistance vehicle, the driver of a Volkswagen Beetle, which had requested the breakdown service because of a defective tire following an accident as well as the driver of a minibus, who was employed as a driver at the ORF. The bus driver crashed his vehicle into the Danube and was rescued unharmed within hours. The ÖAMTC employees and the VW drivers were on that part of the Kaibrücke, which indeed broke and fell, but not completely destroyed, so that they could save themselves by foot. The ORF driver was trapped in his pickup truck and found his dead the day after the collapse.
Within an hour was a quarter of all vehicles of the in Vienna available Fire Brigade on the site of the collapse, it was the alarm given stage IV. Also, police, ambulance and army were represented by large contingents. The on the bridge located water pipes that supplied drinking water to the north of Vienna, put the Handelskai under water. Explosions were also feared because the gas lines running across the bridge were broken. There was on the scene for days strict non-smoking. First, many people were north of the Danube without gas, electricity, water and telephone. Already on the second August was, however, restored the supply.