Transforming a street: Before-After images of Vienna’s Mariahilferstrasse

The transformation of Vienna’s Mariahilferstrasse, one of Austria’s most prominent shopping streets, has turned a street for cars into a great public space for people (see my previous blogposts on the actual transformation and the end result). The 1.6 km long street now consists of two shared space areas and one pedestrian area and has become a vibrant, green and livable public space for Viennese citizens and in particular the residents of the two adjoining dense inner districts Neubau and Mariahilf.

During a recent walk along Mariahilferstrasse I took some photos which should better illustrate the street’s transformation as I combined them with freely available photos from the (not so long ago) past. Use the interactive white slider in each picture to explore by moving it to the left and right edges of the pictures!


Giving pedestrians priority

Despite 60,000 pedestrians vs. 10,000 cars using Mariahilferstrasse on a regular day, pedestrians were forced to use the often crowded sidewalks. The transformation redistributes road space to give pedestrians priority and allows them to walk around and cross the street more freely. People particularly love the pedestrian area and immediately started to use the whole space once the different street levels were removed.

  • Before-Mariahilferstrasse 3
    After-Mariahilferstrasse 3
    BeforeMariahilferstrasse 3After

Photo credits: CC GuentherZ – Wikimedia Commons / Andreas Lindinger –

  • Before-Mariahilferstrasse 6
    After-Mariahilferstrasse 6
    BeforeMariahilferstrasse 6After

Photo credits: CC Douglas Sprott – Flickr / Andreas Lindinger –


Giving space to people

The pictures should also show the amount of space that we waste not only for moving cars but in particular also for parking cars. Apart from occupying scarce public space, slowing down and removing these cars also made it possible to create great commercial and non-commercial places to sit and made it much easier and safer for people to cross the street, thereby adding positive economic effects as well.

  • Before-Mariahilferstrasse 2
    After-Mariahilferstrasse 2
    BeforeMariahilferstrasse 2After

Photo credits: CC R Arno – Wikimedia Commons / Andreas Lindinger –

  • Before-Mariahilferstasse 5
    After-Mariahilferstasse 5
    BeforeMariahilferstasse 5After

Photo credits: CC R Arno – Wikimedia Commons / Andreas Lindinger –


Sharing the space

The two “Begegnungszone” shared space areas also empower pedestrians (and cyclists) by forcing cars to slow down and interact with other road users. Given the amount of space wasted for parking cars, it comes as no surprise that more opportunities to sit were the biggest request from citizens during the comprehensive public engagement process. In this regard, diverse street furniture, water tables and many green elements create lots of opportunities for people to sit down and encourage conversations and interactions.

  • Before-Test

Photo credits: CC Douglas Sprott – Flickr / Andreas Lindinger –

  • Before-Mariahilferstrasse 4
    After-Mariahilferstrasse 4
    BeforeMariahilferstrasse 4After

Photo credits: CC Douglas Sprott – Flickr / Andreas Lindinger –

20 replies
    • masl
      masl says:

      well you would wonder if you knew how many peopla are still angry about this change.. i love it but many people are really pissed about that green politics in the district..

      • alex
        alex says:

        The problem is they didn’t remodel the street for being green! you know how many mom and pop shops has been destroyed in order to be replaced by the the corporate chains due to higher rent?
        These plans are made by the big corporations and they are using policies like green policies, etc in order to trick people
        I’m old enough to remember back in the days this street was full of boutiques owned by regular people like you and me to make ends meat!!! I knew some of them personally
        but that’s my opinion

  1. Simon
    Simon says:

    Ich steh absolut hinter dem Umbau der Mariahilferstraße. Aber Bilder vom Herbst und vom Sommer zu vergleichen ist komplett dämlich und sagt so gut wie nichts aus.

    • Vienncouver
      Vienncouver says:

      Die Vergleichsbilder sind vom 30.7. (Foto 1), 23.9. (Fotos 2, 5, 6) bzw. 11.10. (Fotos 3, 4), meine Aufnahmen vom 27.8. – natürlich schränkt dies die Vergleichbarkeit etwas ein, das ist leider den wenigen unter Creative Commons verfügbaren Vergleichsfotos geschuldet, ändert aber meiner Meinung nach nichts an der grundsätzlichen Zustimmung zur Umgestaltung.

      Und diese Umgestaltung wird auch im Herbst sehr gut angenommen. So hats vor 7 Tagen ausgesehen – ich denke ein Vergleichsfoto wäre hier genauso eindeutig:

  2. Daniele
    Daniele says:

    This is simply awful. Pedestrians had already a lot of space to move into, and it’s a waste of space to dedicate such a large road only to them.

    • Riccardo
      Riccardo says:

      Are you a car? I mean literally. Because that is the only logical reason someone could be pissed to leave space to people in a city made of people!

  3. M
    M says:

    Die Fotos die zur gleichen Jahreszeit aufgenommen sind um die Stimmung effektiv vergleichbar zu machen wirken nachher weniger grün. Ich find die MAHÜ FUZO nicht schlecht, aber ich finds blöd das sie keine reine Fussgängerzone ist. Durch die Radfahrer und Busse ist sie doch teilweise recht gefährlich und man kann nicht unbeschwert rumflanieren, wie zb. auf der Kärntnerstraße. Die Kleinkinder kann man auch nicht mit Roller oder Rad rumfahren lassen. Hab zwar keine Kinder, aber schade irgendwie!

  4. Jochen
    Jochen says:

    Before the green party took over, we didn’t had a problem with traffic jams .. after the changes in the mariahilferstraße, I lose 15 Minutes every day!

    The way the green party is conducting politics in Vienna, you can only describe as undemocratic, radical and authoritarian.

    Thanks to them I also cannot vote for the social democrats any more.

    • james
      james says:

      Such nonsense. It’s just one street which was always worth avoiding anyway. But was horrible to walk around during any busy period.

      There was even a referendum. So much for undemocratic.
      Compare the handful of streets that are pedestrianized to the thousands that are not.

      You are being selfish and won’t admit it.
      At least be honest and admit you only care about your own needs.

  5. David Groves
    David Groves says:

    On the Continent of South America the capitol city of Bogota, Columbia during the reign of the Penalosa Brothers Enrique who was the mayor and his brother Gil who graduated from UCLA and worked in Parks and Recreation, both worked to plan the longest pedestrian, bicycle boulevards in the world, and Bus Rapid Transit, Cyclovila.
    In 1999 the World Bank wanted to give the mayor Billions of Dollars to build out the automobile infrastructure, but he couldn’t do that and at the same time take care of his citizens health, education, and transportation needs. In 1999 the city was choking in gridlock, the mayor did not no which way to proceed and the Word Bank offered the city Billions of dollars to build out the automobile infrastructure Enrique who studied Economics at Duke wanted to take care of the citizens heath, education and transportation needs, but he couldn’t do that and at the same time to make his city more humane.

  6. porscheraser
    porscheraser says:

    Mir hat die alte Mariahilfer Strasse bei weitem besser gefallen.
    Vorallem konnte ich mit meiner Gehbehinderung auch zu den Geschäften hinfahren.

    Na ja, dann kauf ich halt woanders ein…. MAHÜ NEIN DANKE!!!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Izvorni članak: Slika: Mariahilferstraße, Austrija, gornja slika Douglas Sprott, donja slika Andreas Lindinger […]

  2. […] Eastern most section of Mariahilfer Strasse in 2017 after pedestrianisation. More images on Vienncouver. […]

  3. […] Without knowing too much about the transport policies some things do stand out. Although there seems to be a huge volume of motor traffic (far too high in my opinion), I did see a lot of cycling in Vienna (even though I only spent most of my time in the city centre). There seems to be a healthy mix of men and women of all backgrounds and a wide age-range of people on bicycles. Vienna also has a bike-share system that is very visible and obviously well used. Vienna has an extensive public transport system (of which the trams are most visible) and some of the city centre streets have been pedestrianised, sometimes very recently. […]

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