Traditionally, Kärntner Strasse has always been one of the city’s most prestigious streets. Already in the 19th century, the big stores of the Austro-Hungarian capital were domiciled here, especially after the street was widened in 1873.
In connection with construction of the Vienna Underground, the first pedestrian zone of Vienna was created here in 1974 and originally comprised Kärntner Strasse und the adjoining sections of Graben, in 1988 and 1989, it was extended to the remainder of Graben as well as to Kohlmarkt, thereby creating the „Golden U“, a nickname inspired by both the turnover of the many luxury shops located here and by the layout of the pedestrian zone.
After roughly three decades, the pavement of the pedestrian zone with all installation elements had surpassed its technical life cycle – the design had become obsolete. The City of Vienna decided to refurbish the area in contemporary style: The work began with the near-total renewal of all installations, the structure of the streets and its pavement were brought up to the state of the art, which allowed for a significant reduction of current maintenance costs. In addition to many other measures, the outside areas of sidewalk cafés, as well as the kiosks, were rearranged, new trees were planted, benches and other seats were put up, and lighting fixtures were specifically developed for this site.
To this day, the pedestrian zone is one of Vienna’s streets with the highest turnover in terms of both shoppers and sales volume, and it is hard to imagine today that Kärntner Strasse used to be a four-lane street packed with moving and parking cars.