To show the power of his empire, Emperor Franz Joseph I decided to organise a world exhibition to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his accession to the throne.
To do this, the walls surrounding the city were razed to the ground, and in their place a huge circular boulevard (the Ring) was built. Its prestige was to be greater than that of the Champs Elysées.
As the exhibition was rapidly approaching, it was decided to build a huge rotunda on the Prater (which had long been an amusement park) to display industrial products.
Fears that the Danube might flood led to major work to divert the river.
Despite a grandiose opening ceremony and the resources deployed, the exhibition was tarnished by the stock market crash of Friday 9 May 1973 and the cholera epidemic.