When I lived in Vienna, in 2001-2002, I lived in the 11th District, Simmering, a roughish working-class suburb struck through with railway lines and motorway spurs. Specifically, I lived in one of the four huge brick gasometers of the former city gasworks, once Europe’s biggest, now redeveloped as a mixture of shops, flats and a concert hall.
One thing that cheered me, looking at the dire OVP-FPO government with its mixture of dishonest hacks and barely-contained racist scum, was that surely this provincialism was on the way out. With the enlargement of the EU, not only did Austria stand to make huge economic gains, but surely it would liven up a bit?
There was at least some evidence of change. Around the 11. Bezirk, huge infrastructure projects were going on. The railyards were being enlarged, all kinds of commercial property being built, new terminal buildings at the airport..everyone was looking forward to a good old fashioned concrete binge.