Vienna: Do the Wires Ruin It? (contd.)

Continuing from my last post on the overhead wires of Vienna, here are some additional images.  (Click to enlarge.)   Decide for yourself when and where they’re unacceptable.



In this next one, the post on the right appears to be the power source for the streetcar wires, hence the especially heavy wire leading from it.




I think I agree with the comment on the last post that in front of plain building faces they’re fine, but that against the background of an interesting roofline and/or sky, the objectors may sometimes have a point.  Which doesn’t mean that these wires are still the least-bad way to power electric transit systems in most cases.  In the most sensitive spots you might resort to a Bordeaux-style in-track power source, but that would be pretty expensive to do everywhere.


In most cases, people do seem to get used to it.  Would you?


10 Responses to Vienna: Do the Wires Ruin It? (contd.)

  1. Scudder August 26, 2009 at 6:20 am #

    I want to know why we can’t attach span wires to buildings like they do in most of Europe. While the wires can be distracting at time, adding to the distraction would be additional structural poles between the curb and sidewalk to which the wires might be attached (which is how it ends up being done in most of the US). Getting rid of the poles does much to reduce the streetscape clutter and frees up a little extra sidewalk space, which can be critical in some areas where sidewalks space is so limited. So can anyone explain why they can attach span wires to buildings in most of Europe but not in the US?

  2. Jeffrey Bridgman August 26, 2009 at 9:54 am #

    I don’t think they are too bad…
    However I’m not sure if I’m a fan of having them attached to building. My home town in Japan has their streetcar alignment down the middle of the street with a single pole between the two track, minimizing the overhead space required. Check out the image I’ve linked to:
    Streetcar in Okayama
    It isn’t the best picture, but all I could find right now.

  3. EngineerScotty August 26, 2009 at 2:22 pm #

    For some reason, streetcar/trolley wires don’t bother me much; I consider them part of the charm in places like SF or Vancouver where they are ubiquitous.

  4. W. K. Lis August 26, 2009 at 7:09 pm #

    Attaching the wires to a building would be like attaching a clothesline to a house, or a shelf to a living room wall. Is it attaching to a brick veneer, drywall, or the studs or frame underneath. A brick veneer or drywall has little support and can be pulled out, why attaching it to the studs or frame of the building gives it more strength.

  5. anonymouse August 26, 2009 at 7:48 pm #

    They do it in parts of San Francisco. The problem is that you need fairly narrow streets with large solid buildings on them for it to really be effective. With an abundance of free time and google street view, I’m sure you could find a few more examples in other cities.

  6. Multimodal Man August 27, 2009 at 6:01 am #

    Here is an eyebolt and pulloff attached to a building in Seattle for trolley buses.
    2nd and Jackson:,+WA&sll=47.653544,-117.411263&sspn=0.210916,0.441513&ie=UTF8&ll=47.599197,-122.331616&spn=0.003299,0.006899&t=h&z=17&layer=c&cbll=47.599192,-122.331776&panoid=y2uF6usLghNwGGb3HSHIdg&cbp=12,178.76,,0,-22.8
    I believe there are newer buildings to which trolley wire is attached in Seattle. What needs to happen to make this more common is to require that land owners on electric transit corridors provide an easement to their facade for eyebolts for new construction. This would get transit agencies out of having to buy the easement, which may be part of the reason that we don’t attach to buildings as often. Buildings with big setbacks from the curb are probably another obstacle for reducing the number of poles required to hang wire.

  7. Jarrett at August 27, 2009 at 11:53 am #

    Multi Man. Do you or anyone happen to know whether this was done for the
    new streetcar line in Seattle? There are certainly large enough buildings
    there, and the official line, at least, is that they depend on the
    streetcar, so it would make sense …

  8. Multimodal Man August 31, 2009 at 7:29 pm #

    Benaroya Hall, built in 1998, is a more recent example. Note that there are poles but the guy wires to support the switch is attached to the facade of the music hall:,+Washington&sll=47.653544,-117.411263&sspn=0.210916,0.441513&ie=UTF8&cd=1&geocode=FW2j1gId9CC1-A&split=0&ll=47.608373,-122.336546&spn=0.001649,0.003449&t=h&z=18&layer=c&cbll=47.608464,-122.336628&panoid=8eWNbqYvL3oGuCJ-InUTwg&cbp=12,273.68,,0,-22.99
    Apparently there was extensive use of eyebolts when Metro rebuilt the trolleybus infrastructure in the 70s but there has been less use since then. I don’t believe the streetcar was attached to any building.

  9. Multimodal Man August 31, 2009 at 9:04 pm #

    A better angle on an eyebolt on Benaroya Hall, Seattle:,+Washington&sll=47.653544,-117.411263&sspn=0.210916,0.441513&ie=UTF8&cd=1&geocode=FW2j1gId9CC1-A&split=0&t=h&layer=c&cbll=47.608661,-122.336805&panoid=Cac9dbr3OM9Vaip1i8BH_w&cbp=12,218.24,,0,-27.03&ll=47.60876,-122.336894&spn=0.001649,0.003449&z=18&iwloc=A

  10. ryan March 17, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    I know this comment is way late, but the reason why these work is because they use it to power the streetlights too. Makes the whole system flow better. San Francisco has huge streetlights where their busses run, and it is a colossal waste! I prefer this in Vienna, its a design city.