Discovering Vienna's History by Listening to Acoustic City Map


Original: Der Standard, January 28, 2016. "Akustischer Stadtplan lässt Geschichte Wiens hörend entdecken"

An acoustical city map allows discovering the history of Vienna by listening to its 300 cultural-historical recordings are guiding discovery tours through urban areas.

Vienna – We mostly rush in a hurry through the city center, without noticing our environments – similar to the cab horses equipped with blinders. Anyone, who wants to open their eyes and ears and can take the liberty to shift into a lower gear, has now the possibility to enjoy an acoustic journey through Vienna. The project “Acoustic city map” invites you to do so.

The Technische Museum Wien (Technical Museum Vienna) or more precisely, its branch Österreichische Mediathek (Austrian Media Center) combed through its extensive pool of audio records and matched 300 records to their places of origin. “It is exciting that there are so many audio records for places that do no longer exist”, says Media Center director Gabriele Fröschl. “The sound survived and is brought back to the place.”

Synagogues, Gestapo, “Wunderteam”

An example is Neudeggergasse in the 8th district, which housed a synagogue until 1938 and where council flats can be found today. Nowadays, only a sign reminds of the building of the Jewish community. And so does the audio record of the year 1909 that is available on the Media Center website. On this record, Zavel Kwartin, head cantor of the Synagogue Neudeggergasse, sings the “Haschkiwenu” and makes the request to lay down in peace at night and to wake up alive in the morning.

Football fans will be happy to listen to the sound file „Stadion Hohe Warte“.  An extract of a radio segment reports live from the fabulous 8:2 victory of the Austrian “Wunderteam” against the Hungarian team.

By strolling over the Morzinplatz close to the Schwedenplatz, a memorial reminds of the Gestapo-control center that was situated there during the NS-Regime. Stefan Zweig’s “Schachnovelle”, read by Curd Jürgens, illustrates the need to act just like in a chess game in order to fight for survival in times of persecution. An extract of Jürgen’s reading was located on this place of the acoustic city map.

15-hour Tour

Additionally to the audio records, the sites can be found on an online-map, illustrated with photos and basic data for the individual stations. The final product is web-based and accessible on the Internet for free at any time – as it is not an app, a download is not necessary.

Historian Georg Traska from the Austrian Academy of Sciences was responsible for the content development. He succeeded in pointing out stories to original locations and to make them easy to understand. “We, too, discovered a lot, “said Johann Kapeller from the Media Archive about the 15-hour tour.

Special tour „Wurstelprater“

Such a project needs a certain degree of slowness, says Traska. Everyone, who is in a hurry or for whom it is just too cold,“can always take this journey through Vienna from home,” explains Fröschl.

The sound-enriched city map can be discovered according to topics or districts and can link sites of daily life with historical documents. Depending on the user’s personal interest, the content can be filtered in categories such as politics, economics, culture and sport, or the user can take strolls to topics like “Jewish Community”, “Wurstelprater” and “Ringstraße.”

Link: Acoustic City Map