In the 19th century the Habsburg monarchy actually became a Danube monarchy: for it did, in fact, encompass the greater part of the hydrographic catchment basin of the Danube. Under its official name, the “Austro-Hungarian Monarchy”, the Habsburg Empire constituted the Imperial & Royal (Imperial Austrian & Royal Hungarian) Dual Monarchy. In the Habsburg self-image, great, almost idealised, importance was now attached to the river which connected the Habsburg lands – in word, literature, art and, not least, in music. The Imperial & Royal Danube monarchy was epitomised by Emperor Franz Joseph, who ruled the Empire from 1848 to 1916.
Vienna altered its cityscape in keeping with the new times: The inner bastions underwent drastic restructuring from 1857 onwards – when Johann Strauss the Younger composed his timely Demolierer-Polka – and gave way to the broad Ringstraße, lined by the sophisticated, magnificent architecture of the Hofoper, Heldenplatz, Neue Hofburg, Burgtheater, Parliament, Town Hall, palaces und ministry buildings. The outer Linienwall fortification was transformed into the Gürtel ring road. At the World Exhibition of 1873, the Danube metropolis presented itself as a centre of modern science, technology and industry. Through generous incorporation of the suburbs, the last being Floridsdorf on the Danube, the population had already exceeded the two million mark in 1905.