In 2015, Vienna celebrated the Ringstrasse, “Europe's most beautiful street.” The date commemorated was 1 May 1865, when Emperor Franz Joseph I officially opened the first section of the Ringstrasse to the public. The year of the emperor's death, 1916, marked the completion of the one of most extensive and most monumental urban expansion projects of the nineteenth century. Despite destruction during World War II and a small amount of demolition in the ensuing years, the Ringstrasse remains one of the most complete and impressive examples of European historicist architecture and urbanism.

Aside from the Thyssen research project led by Renate Wagner-Rieger, this chapter of Vienna's architectural history has been relatively neglected over the past few decades.1 The 150th birthday was seen as a chance to resuscitate its reputation, to raise the profile of Vienna and its Ring internationally and put it on a par with Paris and its...

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