Kaisermühlen – from a port city to council housing
Until 1875, when the Danube was not yet regulated, Kaisermühlen was situated on the right bank of a major arm of the river. It was mostly home to fishermen, raftsmen and ship millers. And this is how Kaisermühlen, which – literally translated – means “emperor mills”, got its name. The origins of the settlement can be traced back to 45 years earlier: a steamboat dock was built at the place where the Gänsehäufel is situated today, which significantly increased the economic significance of Kaisermühlen. In 1850, Kaisermühlen became a part of Vienna’s 2nd district known as Leopoldstadt. But the biggest changes took place after the Danube was regulated.
After the regulation, Kaisermühlen was suddenly situated on the left bank of the Danube. As the Alte Donau was now no longer driven by a current, there was no power to turn the ship mills. But the advent of the industrial revolution was making the ship mills redundant anyway, and they soon disappeared completely. The steamboat dock which had been built a few decades earlier had to be relocated to the city side of the Danube proper, a move whereby many innkeepers and carters in Kaisermühlen lost their source of revenue. The area was subsequently used for building tenement blocks (low-standard housing) in a grid pattern, with some land being appropriated by industrial firms.
The turn of the century for the first time saw a tram service operating on Wagramer Strasse and Reichsbrücke, thereby giving the periphery of Kaisermühlen access to public transport. During the war, Kaisermühlen with its numerous new, large council housing estates was one of the most important arenas of the February skirmishes in 1934. Following the Anschluss, Austria’s Union with Germany in 1938, the district was transferred to Floridsdorf, Vienna’s 21st district. Kaisermühlen has been part of the 22nd district – Donaustadt – since 1954, together with seven other former municipalities.
Kaisermühlen underground station was opened at Wagramer Strasse almost fifty years later.