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Unknown Photographer
Static load test of a new bridge across the Danube-canal (Stadionbrücke)
Austria, Vienna, September 24th, 1937
Gelatin silver print, 15,9 x 20,9 cm
Numbered „1158” and dated by an unidentified hand, as well as newspaper-clip with title on the reverse

The photographer took this image from scaffolding that was installed on a building in Vienna, at Schlachthausgasse 2, on the corner of Ludwig-Kösslerplatz. Other photographers were in place on the sides of the bridge. The photo journalist Fritz Zvacek (visible in the left foreground) even stood on top of a mechanic ladder to take pictures of the potentially spectacular event.

The Kaiser Josefs Bridge had been built for the world expo held in Vienna in 1873 and was renamed Schlachthausbrücke in 1919. It was the first connection between the third district and the Prater. This bridge with an effective span of 60m and a roadway width of 9,90m was not adequate anymore during the time of the first republic, when sports activities and the erection of the stadium in the Prater increased traffic considerably.

The new bridge was not an entirely new design; it was modelled on the previously planned Rotundenbrücke. The design and implementation of the iron construction was done by the Wiener Brücken- und Eisenkonstruktions AG in cooperation with the company Ing. Mayreder, Kraus & Co, that were responsible for the architectonic design of the bridge. With an effective span of 55,2m the roadway width was 12m – making space available for two tram tracks and two car tracks. These tracks however were only used for the first and last daily trip of the trams.

The position of the cars shows that at the time people were still driving on the left side of the road, as was customary during the times of the monarchy. In the first republic this caused a lot of confusion, as in some of the countries left and right side traffic was allowed in different areas, signposted in several languages. The general decree for the use of the right side of the road was decided in parliament in 1929, but wasn’t implemented everywhere right away. Especially Vienna refused the new rule for a long time, referring to the immense cost and complication of adapting the infrastructure e.g. the trams to the new side of the road. Only in 1938 after the Anschluss the right hand side traffic was finally implemented. On the opposite riverbank we can see the settlement Wasserwiese, seemingly hidden in the forest. The buildings on the right side belong to the depot of the Vienna State Opera, which had until the end of the monarchy been used as the k.k. Court Fourage Depot (horse food depot).

The Stadionbridge was opened for traffic in 1937 and cost 2,4 million Schilling to build. It was destroyed in 1945 during the Second World War. In the years 1959/60 Wagner-Biro built the new bridge standing on the spot until today, with an effective span of 26m.

Ulla Fischer-Westhauser, © WestLicht