Session details


Dieter Schott (TU Darmstadt, History Department) and Martin Knoll (University of Salzburg)


Public Transport, Urban Experience, Tourism


This session aims to understand, how public transit shaped mobilities and urban experiences of both urban dwellers and tourists at times, when cities expanded quickly beyond the ‘pedestrian town’.
The set-up and diffusion of modern public transit networks in European cities from the 1880s onwards had major effects for the way how cities and their adjacent countryside could be experienced and appropriated by urbanites. New rail bound systems frequently took their departure from popular leisure destinations at the edge of the city such as scenic hills, forest parks, zoos, forest cemeteries, amusement parks or sports arenas. Before public transit became the principal agent for work mobility, leisure use frequently was almost as important. Public transport furthermore enabled tourists visiting cities to navigate and visit a variety of urban and peri-urban sites. Social and other inequalities in European cities were expressed in public transport in differentiation of user patterns and in widely diverging public policies towards inclusion versus exclusion.

The session addresses research questions such as the following:

  • How did public transit influence urban experiences of both urban dwellers and tourists?
  • How did urbanites gain and develop a more comprehensive image of the city and the landscape it was embedded in?
  • How did public transit systems tap the need for short term recreation and leisure at the edge of the city?
  • To which extent was the usage of public urban transport socially exclusive in the initial period, when and why did this change?
  • Did the cities as owners of public transport or as concession-granting authorities pursue deliberate policies to facilitate access and usage for lower-class citizens?

Three paper proposals have been accepted for the session, one by Stefaan Grieten (Flemish Architecture Institut) on the main railway station in Antwerp (1895-1905) as the creation of a new environment, Hester Margreiter (University of Salzburg) on Public Transport, Belle Époque Tourism. and Urban Development in Innsbruck (Tyrol) and New Orleans (Louisiana), and Michaela Závodná (University of Ostrava) on urban rail transport as part of daily life of the inhabitants of industrial agglomerations (1890-1914).


The Station that went to Town. The Main Railway Station in Antwerp (1895-1905) and the Creation of a New Environment


Stefaan Grieten (Flemish Architecture Institute (VAi))


Railway Station, Urban Development, Tourism


The dismantling of the 16th century ramparts of Antwerp starting from 1864 meant a breakthrough for the much needed modernization of the urban development. An important role in this brutal change was played by the pioneering railway infrastructure, that had started even before this demolition, starting with a small station (1836), replaced by a new building (1843) on the actual square in front of the zoo complex. The building history of this complex is closely connected with the rapid growth of the railway infrastructure, that altered the whole area, including the layout of the De Keyserlei (1867-1873), the avenue that connects the station area with the old city centre, and the construction of both a new station (1895-1905) and a new main building of the zoo (1895-1903). These building activities altered the area dramatically. The public discussion on the project of the station started many years earlier, and gives insight in the assessment of the projected station. More interesting however is the architectural response that was given, such as the highly imaginative and even utopian project of Coppieters & Moentack (1886), the front of the adjacent zoo building, designed by Emile Thielens, the Diamond trade building nearby, and several projects along the De Keyserlei. They illustrate that the railway station was an urbanistic game changer, that provoked the creation of a new environment, providing accommodation for entertainment, for professional and social networks of the Antwerp bourgeoisie, and a grand entrance for the arriving traveler. Although this environment was public, the architecture of both the railway station and the zoo building created the material decorum of specific audiences, thus emphasizing the inequality between several social groups using the same area.

The Population Needs to Remain in Fresh Air:” Urban Rail Transport as Part of Daily Life of the Inhabitants of Industrial Agglomerations (1890-1914)


Michaela  Závodná (University of Ostrava)


Urban Transport, Industrial Agglomeration, Pollution and Environment


This paper offers new knowledge on the changing perception of the relationship between urban space and urban rail transport; the case study deals with the urban landscape of the Silesian and Moravian industrial agglomerations from the 1890s to the First World War. It focuses on economic, social, cultural and environmental aspects and inequalities of urban transport and its role in daily life of inhabitants of these agglomerations as well as on unequal access to this type of transport.

Comparative approaches will outline the parallels and developmental specifics of the industrial agglomerations of Upper Silesia around Katowice (then Prussia, today Poland) and Ostrava-Karviná (then Habsburg monarchy, today Czech Republic). As a result of modernization, conurbations have emerged there, in which geographical boundaries, economic, political, cultural, migration, national and administrative relations have been uniquely redefined. The dynamic development of these urban regions had an impact on the genesis and operation of urban rail transport (steam trams, electric trams). 

In this paper, I will answer the following key questions:

  1. How did the approach of municipalities to urban rail transport change: was it driven by an economic incentive or part of the concept of public welfare? Was the urban rail transport an important tool used by the municipality to create a desired city image?
  2. Can we identify any inequalities in the access to this type of transport? And if yes, what was the dividing line – space, social status, gender?
  3. Were only economic factors taken into account in the establishment and operation of urban transport, or were environmental factors (the possibility of leaving the industrial agglomeration and “escaping” into the countryside) considered as well?

In conclusion, I will compare, how urban transport developed and operated in the specific conditions of Central European industrial agglomerations with the situation in Western European industrial agglomerations, as the current state of research permits.

Public Transport and Belle Époque Tourism. Interdependencies of Urban Development and Early Tourism in Innsbruck (Tyrol) and New Orleans (Louisiana)


Hester Margreiter (University of Salzburg)


Public Transport, Tourism, Inequality


The interdependencies of public transport networks and tourism as well as the modernization of transportation late 19th / early 20th century transformed urban space, especially in cities like Innsbruck (Tyrol) and New Orleans (Louisiana), until today: path dependencies created by Belle Époque transport infrastructures shaped both tourism and urban development in the long term. In both cities transport infrastructures from this era remain as urban landmarks and means of conveyance. 

Belle Époque tourism was developed in the context of industrialization and urbanization. Infrastructures for transport, accommodation, food, and entertainment were adapted to new needs and massively expanded. Increasing technological opportunities stimulated the construction of tourism infrastructures – and at the same time, modernization and change of urban landscapes were driven by tourism. 

The extension of the railway network from the middle of the 19th century enabled new transport routes and volumes, and sparked tourism, which in turn was an additional incentive to build further railway routes. Streetcar lines, electrified around 1900, played a crucial role concerning city growth and in connecting cities to recreational areas in their vicinities. Rails were the most frequent way to travel by the turn of the century. Long distance railway networks and streetcar connections were not only a means of transportation, but a technological attraction by themselves.

This contribution discusses the comparability of interdependencies of early tourism and the development of urban transport infrastructures in different cities – and includes the issue of social inequality in public transport and recreation. The accessibility of tourism infrastructures as landscapes of consumption was often framed by categories of class, race, and/or money. The case studies of Innsbruck (Tyrol) and New Orleans (Louisiana) are not to be set on equal terms but intend to show the limitations and possibilities of such a comparison.