So far, all of my international visitors have fallen hopelessly in love with Vienna, envying me for its rich culture and history. However, my father-in-law, a Texan investment manager and fierce Republican, had some trouble getting used to the Viennese way of life.
During our sightseeing tours, he noticed the multitude of Gemeindebauten, Vienna’s internationally-acclaimed public housing projects that have their origins in the era of Red Vienna between 1918 and 1934. When I explained that the city provides affordable housing he was confused, to say the least. How could a city intervene with the competition on the free market? And what would happen to people’s incentive to work if they got given cheaper housing for non-achievement?
One of our excursions took us to the 19th District. As we got out of the subway station, he went pale: Was this Gemeindebau seriously named after Karl Marx, the ultimate communist? He ended up taking photos from every possible angle to show to his colleagues at home – a refreshing change to the myriads of photos of Schloss Schönbrunn and Stephansdom tourists usually take.