Although the Danube river has been inextricably connected with Vienna, for centuries, it had played only a subordinate role in the city of Vienna.
Unlike in many other cities, the Danube River, because of the numerous floods it regularly caused, was omitted from the urban area. Buildings grew up in Vienna on both sides of the Danube – but not up to the Danube. Only after extensive flood-control engineering and the creation of the New Danube relief channel, with Danube Island, in the 1970s, was the surrounding cityscape of the Danube of interest to builders.
The establishment of Donau City had its origins in the organization of the Vienna International Garden Festival in 1964.