Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Leopoldstadt ("Leopold-Town") is Vienna's second district. There are 90,914 inhabitants (census 2001) over 19.27 km². It is situated in the heart of the city and, together with Brigittenau (20th district), forms a large island surrounded by the Danube Canal and, to the north, the Danube. It is named after Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I (1640 - 1705). Due to its relatively high percentage of Jewish inhabitants (38.5 per cent in 1923, i.e. before the Holocaust), Leopoldstadt gained the nickname Mazzesinsel ("Matzoh Island").
Places of interest include the Prater (from Latin pratum "meadow"), former imperial hunting grounds to which the public was denied access until 1766. The Hauptallee is the main artery, lined with chestnut trees, closed to motorists and known to sports enthusiasts from the annual Vienna Marathon. The area of the Prater closest to the city centre contains a large amusement park, known as the Volksprater ("people's Prater") or Würstlprater ("Sausage Prater"), and at its entrance there is the giant Ferris wheel ("Riesenrad") opened in 1897 which features prominently in the movie The Third Man and which has become one of Vienna's trademarks. There is also a miniature steam railway ("Liliputbahn") which, on its track through the woodland parallel to the Hauptallee, passes Vienna's Ernst Happel Stadium. The Schweizerhaus ("Swiss Hut"), an establishment boasting a huge beer garden, sells the original Czech Budweiser draught beer. The owners claim that, back in the 1920s, the potato crisp was invented there. Nearby you can find the "Republic of Kugelmugel", a micronation proclaimed in 1984 that became a landmark of the area.
Another, smaller, park in Leopoldstadt is the topiary-type Augarten, which is the home of the Vienna Boys' Choir and of a porcelain manufactory ("Augarten-Porzellan"). Sadly, its distinguishing marks are two disused Flak towers built towards the end of the Second World War.
In the mid-17th century, part of the built-up area used to be the Jewish ghetto. During the time of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, Jewish immigrants from eastern parts of the realm again flocked to Leopoldstadt. Today, the members of Vienna's Jewish community prefer to live there, and there are a number of shops selling kosher food. Several parts of the old residential areas have been gentrified, resulting in a gentle shift from Leopoldstadt's predominantly working class population towards a somewhat wealthier clientele.
- An entry from the aeiou Encyclopedia (in English)
- Leopoldstadt Online -- a private online project (in German)
- Zwi Perez Chajes School – homepage of the Jewish gymnasium
- The Schweizerhaus homepage (includes an English translation)
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